Review: Drape Drape 2 and a give away!

Late to the party, I finally secured copies of a book called Drape Drape along with the second in the series, Drape Drape 2. I know the Japanese versions (of which there are three now) have been making the circuit but these titles are now available in English and are published by Laurence King. Or rather, I see Amazon lists Drape Drape 2 as not having been released yet but it will be very soon. If you’re interested in the book, I would go ahead and pre-order it. Part of the reason I didn’t get it before is because these were on back order any time I checked. These books have been very popular and I was fortunate to get them from the publisher. I was sent an additional copy to give away to one lucky winner so read on to win.

Since there are many reviews and samples to be viewed across the web, I decided to do something a little different for mine. Namely to digitize one of the styles and assess the pattern’s quality.  I couldn’t do the one I really wanted (#2) because I didn’t have enough fabric or, I didn’t have enough of the right kind of fabric -most of these styles are best suited for knits- so I did pattern #4.

The patterns for each style (14 of them) are included full size, printed on large sheets attached to the back of the book. As with any medium in which patterns are lain on top of each other, it can be a bit confusing. Because I did not read the instructions, I was expecting the one piece to be intact -although a bit of forethought and introspection would have clearly shown this wasn’t possible.  Not all patterns come in all sizes which are S, M, L & XL. The style I selected comes in S/M and L/XL. Keeping in mind that sizes are relative and these are Japanese patterns, the XL is probably the equivalent of a US medium so that’s what I picked.

Once I digitized the three pattern sections and joined them together, I was able to check seam lines and all that. I have to say, these are nice patterns quality wise or at least this one was. To be sure #4 is one of the simpler styles but all the seam lines and notches matched. Jumping ahead (I didn’t take a picture of this), the patterns were also well balanced, impressively so. Even with such a wide variety of possible body shapes, the side seam was exact as were the shoulder seams. As I said, impressive.

Since this style comes in two sizes, I also checked the grade -which was also nice. For my pattern, I kind of threw all of that out though and regraded it and relabeled the sizes. By that I mean I digitized the XL, renamed it to Medium and then graded it for sizes XS-XL. I had no reason to do it, I just wanted to see how the lines would hold up, whether the pattern would keep its form and shape if put through the wringer.  Generally, a well engineered pattern has structural integrity to take this kind of use. If it can’t, then it is too delicate to be adapted beyond a size or two and really could stand re-engineering. And by the way, I’m not suggesting anyone should run off and put these styles in production. This review is intended to fuel your creative side that might not get enough fun challenges to stretch your experience and skills. You can learn all kinds of things putting something like this together.

Probably the biggest downside is inherent to the styles themselves and has nothing to do with the pattern quality, book content, author or any of that…and that would be cutting. Cutting out some of these styles would be extremely challenging although there are ways to make quicker work of this with a few tips and work materials you’re probably not using. Coincidentally enough in the forum this week, I posted a tutorial on cutting samples (one-off single items). Had I known I was going to review this book, I might have used one of these patterns for it instead but I can always update the tutorial to show cutting and marking for more complex styles.

It occurs to me I haven’t posted a photo of the sample. Hmm. Mine is not so pretty, being a mock up, it is not finished and probably never will be. I may adjust the pattern a bit and reuse it later though. The neckline is a bit too low for me; my fabric was some kind of suede-ish heavy knit and hangs too low in front since neckline isn’t stabilized with seaming.

“For whatever reason, this style makes my dressform’s shoulders look wide and her hips, narrow. Maybe this style will do that for people too?

As far as whether you should buy it ($14.50) or its predecessor ($16.50), keep in mind it is a somewhat awkwardly translated text with challenging styles and required execution -although the sewing skills needed are quite basic.  While diagrams and illustrations are clear, it wouldn’t be appropriate to expect the same sort of hand holding common to US home sewing books. I think that anyone with basic sewing skills, simple equipment and a few hours of free time could expect a good result. For me these styles aren’t particularly wearable but that shouldn’t dissuade any who feel as I do. If you need to stretch and are looking for a fun challenge, any of these style could be a great project. I think this book might be a fun activity for people who wish to inspire sewing in teens or young adults.

Now for the giveaway!
Leave a comment on the blog -any entry qualifies- from today through next Thursday to win a copy of this book.  Unfortunately I must restrict this to residents of the US; two recent winners were overseas and the shipping costs were $18 each time.  Good luck!

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  1. Faviola Uzcategui says:

    I’m in Venezuela, but if you can send it to a p.o. box address i have no issue with paying the fee to receive it!. Def, adding it to my cart :)

  2. Kathleen says:

    If someone abroad is willing to cover partial shipping, that would be fine with me. I’ll put in $5 towards that since I’d paid that for domestic shipping anyway. Mexico/Canada would be $8 and all others would be $12.

  3. Christina says:

    I am so not a regular Japanese size. (Women who are in the 5’10” to 5’11” range are as scarce as hen’s teeth in Japan, and size 11 wide-width shoes? Fuggedaboutit!) I have drooled over Drape Drape for years, but I am not confident that I can grade up from super-petite to tall sizes & still have something that looks great. But I will try if I win the book.

  4. Esther says:

    I’ve eyeballed this book and debated whether to add it to my wishlist or not. You’ve helped me make up my mind. I’m always up for a pattern challenge.

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Kathleen. I have drape drape 1, and used one of the patterns in a mashup with my own bodice. It’s definitely a super interesting book, and I’d love to own Drape Drape 2.

  6. Beth says:

    I would love this book. I love sewing books and almost always learn something new from reading them. I have a stylish 15 year old daughter that sews and I also enjoy sewing for her and myself. I am an irregular shape and must alter patterns to fit myself. So, I need all the knowledge I can to make proper changes to patterns.

  7. catx says:

    I’m loving that the Japanese sizes are for short people — the major pattern companies over here almost never provide ‘misses petite’ options with their ‘designer’ patterns (and let’s not get started on how poorly sized ‘misses petite’ often is — it’s a shame the only halfsize patterns these days are vintage).

  8. Jilly Be says:

    I’ve been curious about these books for some time; the reviews I’m seeing for this version are all very positive, so I would love to be in the winner’s circle for this one! Thanks for doing this :)

  9. Kysha says:

    Hi Kathleen, I miss you all at FI now that I’m not doing my children’s line anymore. I still read many posts and would love to be entered in the contest!
    In spirit

  10. Paul says:

    Definitly looks like a T-shirt with an interesting twist. It would make for a great beach cover-up or more with additional length to the body. I think I have seen similar items on Taobao here in China.

  11. Loved your review, it looks like a fun book I am much more inclined to tailor a shape, and this is a good direction for me to be inspired towards! I can’t imagine the time must take you to play around, but grateful we get to benefit, too!

  12. Interesting design, fine workup here and great forum tutorial, Kathleen! The step-by-step process marrying industrial to small-scale mockup production – and what you discovered as you went – is invaluable.

  13. Liz C says:

    I would love to win this!

    My 16 year old daughter is teaching herself to both sew and create clothing (on a very teenage level), and is in the Japanese size range; I know she’s love the book.

    I would too! I like the sample you mocked up, and think it might work on my figure.

  14. Anne says:

    This book looks like the challenge I have been looking for, for some of my students. I am always trying to give them inspiration when they are learning pattern manipulation and this book sounds like it would have some great ideas for them to utilize for their knit blocks! Plus the idea that they are starting with fashionable designs is a bonus :)

  15. Renee says:

    I tend to err towards woven fabrics /tailored styles for my patterns and sewing, though rarely (if ever) make anything for myself. These drapey, stretch patterns could be just the ticket for some overdue selfish sewing to mask my soon-to-be post baby bod ;-)
    Thanks so much for actually doing a technical review of the pattern (including the grading) – so refreshing!

  16. Teijo says:

    For anyone interested, the Japanese women’s letter sizes usually assume the following nude measurements:

    Small—Bust:72–80 Waist:58–64 Hips 82–90 cm
    Medium—B:79–87 W:64–70 H:87–95
    Large—B:86–94 W:69–77 H:92–100
    XL—B:93–101 W:77–85 H:97–105

    The standard height range for these sizes is 154-162 cm.
    (To derive imperial equivalents divide by 2.54)

  17. Sharon Denaro says:

    Love your website Kathleen! I’m always looking to increase my knowledge in patternmaking and the garment industry as a whole. It’s interesting to see what a style looks like as a pattern.

  18. nowak says:

    Thanks for the review!

    I have some of the Pattern Magic books and I wonder if this one complements them or if it is less interesting, if one has Pattern Magic already?
    My other question would be if one has to use the patterns that come with the book (which will not be my size anyhow) or if one can use the information in the book to make patterns in any size one wants?
    Thank you, if you might find the time to answer this.

  19. Pam says:

    I would love to have this book. Your mock-up looks very cool to me (and if it really makes my shoulder wider and narrows my hips, I’ll make a closetful of it!) Now that you’ve warned me about the low neckline, I think I’d make that my 1st project!

  20. Stephanie K says:

    I’ve used both books (with some awkward translating) and can recommend them for the challenge. I’m not a production sewer, but always enjoy the challenges you set, and these books definitely fit that brain stretching bill. My clients benefit from all of this (and I do give your website credit!) and so do I.

  21. Kathleen says:

    Teijo: good idea about posting sizes, I didn’t think of that. Here were the listed sizes, btw, the patterns say sizes are listed on pg 33 but they were on pg 7

    S 78-58-84 hgt:153 (31-23-33, hgt 5’0″)
    M 82-62-88 hgt:158 (32-24-35, hgt 5’2″)
    L 86-66-92 hgt:163 (34-26-36, hgt 5’4″)
    XL 90-70-96 hgt:168 (35-28-38, hgt 5’6″)
    Conversions to imperial weren’t included and I rounded those for brevity.

    Ann: I would like to know my thought process on grading the sleeve too. I have no idea if it is right, it was just my best guess. For grins, I also printed off a size XS and size XL. I don’t know what I’ll do with those. I could give them away I suppose but they aren’t my property to dispose of.

    Anyway, grading: I started with the back part and rotated the pattern so that the sleeves were off to either side as they normally would be. Then I graded the left side (viewer’s left, not the wearer’s) till it looked somewhat correct. Then I copied the outside sleeve edge grade over to the right “sleeve”. Once that was done, I positioned the shirt into its correct orientation (as I showed it, I don’t know if that is correct but it was for working on it) and copied the left rules and put them on the right. Reversed of course.

    Kysha: I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I just thought you didn’t like us anymore. You don’t have to be a business owner to join the forum, think about coming back. We miss you too.

    Nowak: First, the book is called drape drape but it is not about draping. It is not about patternmaking at all, flat or draped. It is just photography and sewing instructions to accompany the patterns. It works out to $1 or so per pattern but then you have to trace them off (I found that a bit challenging).

    Lois: thanks for the mention of Carolyn’s blog; I couldn’t find anything for this particular book but she’s done some nice samples of other Japanese patterns.

  22. Lisa Brazus says:

    Kathleen when you said that most of the designs are for knits does it specify the stretch % for the pattern or do you just have to experiment? They sound interesting. I am surprised that I have never heard of them before or seen them when I have searched the many titles on Amazon. Thanks for the post and addtional comments on the sizing.

  23. Felicity says:

    I would love to try some of those designs, not to mention I have been dreaming about trying a Japanese
    sewing book. Count me in!

  24. Mary says:

    Ohhh, I would love a copy! Thanks for the chance.

    I’m surprised that in the grading, with no side seam between the front and back pieces, that the back and front necklines only changed in the expected way, but did not get any closer together or farther apart.

  25. LeslieW says:

    I, also, have been drooling! My new studio will be ready in early October, so I could try out some of these designs. It is good to stretch/challenge the imagination and skills once in a while.

  26. nowak says:

    Thank you, Kathleen.
    Tracing off patterns would not be a problem, I grew up (sewing wise) with Burda (and Neue Mode at that time) sewing mags, so that’s what I am used to.
    But since I am far out of the sizing range I know now, that the Drape Drape books are at least two I do not need to buy. (Which is good thing concerning shelf space. :-) )

    But I know now some people whom I can recommend it because they are shorter and most of the sizes are petite or even “ultra petite”. And also for those who are afraid to draft a pattern themselves.

    Thank you again!

  27. Firoza says:

    Kathleen, this book seems really interesting, so please count me in among those willing to pay the overseas shipping charges. I’ve read all 3 Pattern Magic books, and the one irksome thing that I found is that most of the patterns looked as if they would best flatter a relatively flat-busted (cup size B at most) figure. The drape-drape books seem to have patterns designed for the curvier (as in, lower waist-to-hip ratio) figures. Is that true?

  28. Kathleen says:

    Lisa: I don’t see anything about percentage of stretch so experimentation is in order.

    Mary: I graded this (caveats abound, still playing with it), this wasn’t the book’s grading.

    Nowaks: I suppose it is a difference of philosophy; I don’t care whether I can wear a given style and I don’t care whether it is my personal taste. I want to make a given item because it represents a challenge. Perhaps this kind of distance is easier for those of us who spend most of our careers working on designs that have no personal appeal for us. This is not a trial or situation to endure; it can be great fun and very rewarding. I have never understood how people (not a comment about you, just across the board) judge a design or execution as being “good” or “bad” based on their personal preferences. It has nothing to do with that. In fact, in industry, a designer who can only design what they like personally is considered to be limited in both creativity and skills.

    Firoza: not sure I know what you mean by curvier being lower waist to hip ratio; curvy means the opposite. I could not say for sure which figures are most flattered by the patterns but forced to make a blanket assumption, would guess these patterns were designed for slender, more petite women.

    Tora: this isn’t a business book. It is a bad idea to use home patterns for manufacturing.

  29. nowak says:

    Kathleen: I understand completely that designing can be very much fun and very rewarding, even if one will never wear or use the garment.

    It is more my personal choice to restrict myself to garments I will wear and (mostly) to books I will use. The difference might be, that sewing and designing is not my profession and I simply have to restrict my ressources. Be it time (sewing is not my only hobby, I have more time consuming ones also…), be it shelf space. Or space for storing fabrics. (Trips to India a very bad for both, need a lot of time while doing it and a lot of storage space afterwards. ;-) )

    I know (learned the hard way) that if I do not sometimes say a very big “NOOO” to myself, I am ending up in chaos. Which ist not good.

    If it was just about what I feel like… but one day has only 24 hours and I did not finde a possibility yet do discard sleep alltogether. :o

  30. Melissa says:

    I’m intrigued. From what I’ve seen it looks like the “Drape, drape” books’ styles are like something Madeleine Vionnet would have done if knit outerwear was more acceptable in her day.

    Thanks for offering this give-away.

  31. Susan says:

    Woo! It would be great to read through these before I embark on my Draping 101 course for my design degree. I have a similar shirt and would say that yes…this silhouette does tend to bring out the shoulder width and suck in at the hips. Great for a stick figure…not so much for a woman figure. :)

  32. Britta says:

    I have been a fan of yours for a few year now! I have your book (super informative and dense!) and I have never posted on your site. I guess the contest has inspired me to do so.
    Thank you for the technical analysis of the patterns and your insights into the style and ways to use the book.

  33. J Hodson says:

    I’ve been wanting to make some knit things for myself (for once!) and learn more about working with knit material. This book sounds like a great way to do both. I would have to grade them for 5’10”!

  34. Luanne Mayorga says:

    I am excited to read this book and try it out! Thanks for the information on it Kathleen. It is valuable that you digitized the pattern and made the comments on the quality of the pattern.

  35. bente says:

    I made something like this (style in photo) for fun 5 years ago. I love to play with shapes and I think Kathleen is right; this style would make shoulders look wider and hips look more narrow.
    And, Japanese designers (and Japanese in general) are very perfectionists..they go for the perfect. I am not surprised that everything matched in the pattern.

  36. Anne says:

    I started sewing again after a very long family-work, etc. lapse (I now have grown children!) and have been enjoying dusting off and improving my skills. The blogs and all the new ideas available are fantastic. So many new things to try! I’ve been checking this book for awhile and would love to experiment. Thanks for posting your review and for the chance to win a copy.

  37. Mary Teri says:

    I am intrigued by these designs, and would be thrilled to win your giveaway. Lately I’ve been immersed in constructing very traditionally-tailored garments, but would love to try sewing some of the unique clothing featured in this book. Thanks for considering me!

  38. Firoza says:

    Kathleen, I was referring to a figure which has a 27″ waist and a 38″ hip — going by the technical definition, that makes it a figure with a lower-than-normal waist-to-hip ratio, and hence it is a curvier-than-normal figure. Isn’t that right? I am curious about the definition of petite — going by dress sizes, petite sizes are for figures 5’4″ or shorter. Do petite sizes also impose a limit the horizontal measurements of the figure? Thanks much for the reply — irrespective of the figure size, this looks like an interesting book.

  39. Eleyna says:

    Most of the garments I make are structured and made with wovens. I’d love to dabble with knits and draping more often.

    Thanks for the great offer!

  40. Ken Simmons says:


    I love this book and the other volume too. Some entries are real brain teasers and will definitely stretch one’s understanding of alternate ways of cutting cloth.

  41. M-C says:

    I have this book and love it. I have it in Japanese, but as you see I don’t think the instructions make that much difference. So please keep the book for someone else. But if you wanted to giveaway your graded version, well, that’d be different :-). I think I’m about a Japanese 4X. More exactly I take their small and their XL and grade up that much to myself. Sigh.

  42. Brina says:

    I wasn’t going to get into the drawing–but I would love to look at the drafts of these clothes. Then maybe I’ll donate the book to the local public or university library. Not much stuff like that here in the rural South.

  43. No whammies! No whammies! Deconstructing crazily-draped knit garments is my favorite! This book was made for me! Thank you for the opportunity, but mostly for bringing it to my attention. You’re the best! Now back to your book that I just bought… xxxAngie

  44. Mia Arenas says:

    I would love to have a copy of this book. I normally flat pattern everything but sometimes I do have the need to drape garments. I think, depending on the design, it works out faster to drape than to draft depending on the garment.

  45. Mia,
    As Kathleen said above: “First, the book is called drape drape but it is not about draping. It is not about patternmaking at all, flat or draped. It is just photography and sewing instructions to accompany the patterns. It works out to $1 or so per pattern but then you have to trace them off (I found that a bit challenging).”

  46. Bernadette Williams says:

    Kathleen, thank you for sharing this and for providing your expertise to us on an ongoing basis. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

  47. Annie Rose says:

    Thanks for the review! This book looks really interesting and I’d like to enter the drawing if it’s not too late. The book looks like it has a similar concept as a book I purchased a couple years ago called Wrap & Drape Fashion. It’s fascinating to see how such bizarre-looking shapes can turn into clothing.

  48. There’s no doubt that being able to pattern and grade your own garments saves you money. It’s one of the most lamented skill sets I hear about from people who wish they had it. There is a certain kind of empowerment that only someone with this knowledge can truly understand. Walking into a manufacturer with this packet, graded, seam allowances in place, is one of the most liberating positions to be in as a small business owner. I wish for this moment.

  49. Avatar photo

    We do have a winner. I can’t announce it yet because the winner may not have intended or wanted to win and so, may decline it and then I’d have post the alternate which makes it all so confusing. Anyway, I have also drawn an alternate name. I’ll post the results once I hear from the winner.

  50. Quincunx says:

    *wanders back in from the week’s archives post, where the winner was posted*

    Oh dear me, no wonder you had to wait for the announcement, that was delightfully ironic. The random number generator is blind. :D

  51. Allison says:

    Hello Kathleen

    Ijust purchase books 1 and 2 from Barnes & Noble. I am a new sewer and was intrigued by what appears to quick sewing…1 and 2 pieced patterns.

    Challenge is the size. Can you recommend a tutorial that would help me with grading. I’m a US 16.


  52. Kathleen says:

    Correcting an oversight, Teijo won. Luckily for us, he is a Japanese translator and has purchased the Japanese language version as a point of comparison to this one. Time permitting, he will report later as to any awkwardness in the text.

    Hi Allison, I’m very encouraged by your ambition! Unfortunately, I don’t know of any tutorials that would be helpful for these styles. I don’t even know of any books. These are rather complex and would need the eye of an experienced grader. Which doesn’t mean you couldn’t attempt it and I certainly hope you will. The only suggestion I have is that you trace off all sizes of whichever styles you’re interested in and use the overlapping lines as a guide to grading up to your size. Good luck!

  53. Frances says:

    Did you know the variation of using strip knit? When the front is horizontal strip (grain direction) and the back becomes vertical strip? Very cute!!

  54. Johanne Ratté says:

    I bought a couple years ago Drape drape 2 on Etsy with a japanese girl. So It’s all in japanese! I had some problems to do pieces who are more complicated, but now I try to do the 2 pattern gather blouse and ???$#@&*. It’s not very simple. If somebody had the translation in English (photo of all guides) I can send to you for exchange an another pattern. I have the last one in English!

  55. AmyInNH says:

    Something doesn’t look right about the right sleeve, creeping up the arm pit.
    Noticed on The Great British Sewing Bee this garment looks better on someone with curves, to support the draping down the side. And the neckline looks much deeper on this version, than the one on the show.

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