Draping Panel

Thank you for coming to our 2019 panel on draping! We hope you learned a lot and are excited to try out your new skills. Practice makes perfect! Below are some important highlights and notes from the panel to help you continue to improve!


Important materials for draping:

  • A dressform. These can be expensive, a decent starter brand is PGM, and you can find used ones on sites like craigslist from time to time, however these are not likely to be exactly your size as they are industry standards. If you want to make your own form you can try out this tutorial or using this pattern It is NOT recommended that you make a “duct tape” dressform as the glue in the duct tape will ruin your pins as you attempt to drape and pin things to it as well as if you’re making skin tight things most duct tape dress forms are not exactly your size due to the amount of layering required.
  • Fabric Scissors. Most of you who sew know that you don’t use your fabric scissors for ANYTHING else. For those of you new to the craft, go buy a fresh pair and keep them safe. For the purposes of draping on a form you want a pair with a blunt tip, not a micro tip. Large or small will do.
  • Pins. Don’t cheap out on pins. You want “extra fine” ones either with glass or metal heads. Cheap pins are often blunt (which leads me to throw about 1/3 away out of a pack), and have plastic heads which, while aren’t a big issue for draping, can be problem when you go to use them for any task that requires ironing. Clover is a trusted brand.
  • Crepe Tape. For the demonstration I used 1/4″ crepe tape for better visibility but generally I prefer 1/8″ when I work at home as it is easier to manipulate into curves. Sometimes it is called “chart tape” but beware that some chart tape is vinyl and will not work for this usage.
  • Fabric. For the purposes of the demonstration I used cotton muslin. It is semi transparent and easy to manipulate, but if you’re the garment you’re patterning for is in a much heavier fabric or a stretch or a knit, it is best to drape in a fabric as similar to your actual fashion fabric.
  • Pattern paper. after you’ve finished draping your pattern you’ll want to transfer it to a flat pattern. You can use butcher paper or I use what is called “good guide” pattern paper which comes with a grid printed on it for marking grain lines easily. If you’re local to the bay area you can buy “good guide” in small quantities at Fabric Outlet and in large quantities at Apparel City . You want to most likely avoid using regular printer paper because it is so heavy. Often you trace through pattern paper so it is much thinner and lighter weight.
  • Tracing Wheel. You can get these at any sewing store. I got my favorite one I currently have at daiso in the craft section. Once you know what you’re looking for they’re easy to find.
  • Rulers and curves. The best ruler for patterning in my opinion is a thin see through 2″ x 18″ with a 1/8″ grid. This will allow you to add seam allowances without and trouble. Curves are a matter of personal preference. I have one from a local school that I love b/c it is clear so I can see if i’m going over trace marks by accident. You can purchase it here. It is excellent for tight curves for making bodices and crotches, but if you want a longer curve for hips and skirt shapes I recommend this one.
  • Pencils. I generally say stay away from most mechanical pencils except this type as the lead is often too thin and snaps as you are pressing against a ruler which is super frustrating. Traditional and drafting pencils work just fine.



Follow up books for reference:

Draping for Fashion Design by Hilde Jaffe and Nurie Relis
Draping for Apparel Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong