Paper draping

Today I thought I’d show you how I created a fitting shell for the newest dress form I got. Sure, one could do a lot of measuring and finagling to come up with a fitting shell but it strikes me as too much work as compared to easier ways to do it. Mind you, I don’t have a problem doing it the long way if it produces a superior result but I don’t think it does.

I like to drape with paper, specifically marker paper. Now of course I could do it like everyone else on the planet and drape muslin over the form but muslin (or any fabric) gives too easily. When you pull the fabric off the form, lines are curved where they’re supposed to be straight so you’re never quite sure which line to follow when you make your pattern. Then you have to sew up a test draft of your drape, fiddle with it -it never looks like you want it to- make adjustments, then another pattern, then another test sew and so on. Like I said, too much work for a basic fitting shell.

Draping with paper doesn’t require any special rules, don’ts or any of that. Line up the grid on the center front and you’re fine. Just make sure the paper spans the center front so you’re not waylaid by the center bust dip.

Once I’ve marked off the lines using the broad side of tailor’s chalk, I digitize it.  Once it’s in my CAD program, I clean up the draft to make sure all the seam lines match, clean up any squiggly lines, mark dart ends and all of that. Below is a screen cap of the pattern. On the left is the digitized version. On the right is the pattern with seams, drills and darts evened up and shortened.

So all that’s left now is to prove the drape by sewing up a test muslin. Three views of my test drape appear below.

Perhaps this proof shows why I think a paper drape for a basic fitting shell is better. I went through one iteration cycle and voila, I was done. I hope that was helpful, class dismissed.

PS. I ran off a little sooner than I planned (had to go make dinner) but I realize this fitting shell isn’t perfect. However, it is close enough that I can make the pattern changes without needing to sew up another one. Specifically, I need to lower the back waist darts at least two inches and the front darts, maybe about one inch.

There is an additional tutorial on a related topic that will be posted in the forum tomorrow. Members can find that here.

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