Why Draping?

Lots of sewers can draft flat patterns using measurements and that works well for most but sometimes you have a client who needs a  more custom approach. About 4 years I helped this fellow sewer make a duct tape dummy for herself and she has been using it to make sweatshirts and loose tops but when she wanted to make more fitted blouses she asked for my help. Here is what we started with:4-dressform-front5-dressform-back

Gingham was going to be my best choice for this project just to start with making a sloper or basic shell to get her dimensions as you can see her left shoulder is quite high and forward while the right shoulder is sloped and narrower. You can see the center back marker line curves toward the right and forward as well. If we wanted to be able to make a pattern for the back without a center back seam and cutting separate left and right backs we need some real substantial darts. Let’s get draping!1-back-drape The center back is drawn in and what we need are 4 darts to make the gingham stripes as vertical and horizontal as we can.2-right-side-drape3-left-side-drape Once the back is done and pinned tight I can move to the fronts. These will always be cut separately so they are draped that way too.8-two-fronts12-dressform-back-final11-dressform-final Now we are ready to make some paper patterns and see the real dimensions!9-fronts Can you see when I stack the two fronts how much bigger the left front is? What is the difference?7-two-inch-shoiulderThe left shoulder is 2 inches taller and the side seam is one inch wider and the armsyce is almost 1.5 inches lower too.14-make-left-front Here we are making a left front pattern and I have to include that I use my SA Curve tools for all the curved areas. Claire, the designer of the rulers just sent me my latest order for the rest of the collections and they are wonderful!rulers

The back pattern looks like this:15-make-back-pattern Paper is pinned under the gingham panel and will be traced with a needle spiked tracing wheel  and all darts drawn in too.ruler-center-back-sloper With the darts sewn into the gingham and attached to the fronts I am holding a metal edged ruler along the center back so you can see the curve of the upper spine. Now that is where the 4 darts really do a good job of making the curve. Also with the center back the ruler shows the curve to the right:ruler-back-sloper

And a front view:ruler-sloper-front

While one shoulder is 2 inches taller than horizontal, the other shoulder is almost 2 inches shorter than the horizontal line. No wonder no commercial patterns worked. To measure all these points and plot them on paper would have been very labor intensive and if your client cannot stand for too long as mine could not, it would have been very hard on both of us…luckily the duct tape dummy never complained, she let me stick pins into her and was very patient…ha ha.

After all this we realized that my client have changed in the past 4 years and her curve now was more pronounced so I added more padding to center back and stitched the sloper as a cover to her dummy:

left-side-sloper-coverright-side-sloper-cover

Next time we tackle a princess seamed blouse and really discover more fitting issues!

Nancy, my fitting model is coming by this week for her wrap front blouse try-on  and I will show you the alterations I made to her pattern before cutting…Lord knows you have had enough visual stimulation with this post!

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42 Responses to Why Draping?

  1. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Theresa….more to come…more complicated and more fun!

  2. Tia Dia says:

    Wow. This is so amazing! And a perfect essay in pictures about why custom fit garments make any shape look fabulous. Thank you for the lesson!

  3. Carolyn Gazerro says:

    Great job. Thanks for taking the time and patience to let your readers understand how and why you make your alterations.

    • mrsmole says:

      Looking through blogs of people with near perfect bodies makes me want to share the type of people that need a little more help and what can be done. Thanks for your nice comment, Carolyn!

  4. Shams says:

    I think of you as the Queen of Fit and the Queen of Seemingly-Hopeless-Projects, Mrs Mole!

  5. mrsmole says:

    Hopeless? OH NO….maybe a little helpless and I am always willing to lend a little help. I do love the best fit we can manage without having to bring out the magic wand!

  6. Julie Boyer says:

    Impressive my friend!!!

  7. Jane Urbach says:

    I have used gingham for pattern making, it sure makes things easier. I gave up on the 400 pound wheelchair bound customer I had (with the 40 mile round trip) as he didn’t want to get any new material, and i was trying to make things work with very heavy denim,. Then he gave me; I think it was canvas you might stretch on a frame for oil painting, for my first pattern after the newspaper. I am not even sure if my sewing machine would have sewn anything but 2 layers. When he got snippy because I was not getting done fast enough, I took what i had done, and put it and his paper patterns, denim and canvas in a bag and left it on his porch. I will admit to bogging down, but was struggling with my own migraines, Fibro and cranky husband, so better to cut the tie and go on to something else. Sorry about the whine. You certainly will make the gingham lady look nice by giving her a pattern that fits rather than sags around her. It will make her physical problems much less noticeable. Bravo

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Hell’s Bells, Jane…join the group! In the past 8 years I have “released” some of the most inconsiderate, nasty, demanding, always late, forgot my checkbook clients. Mr Mole, bless him, carts all their finished and unfinished crap to their homes or place of work and drops off a huge box like he is the UPS man…then he comes home. I never include a bill…it’s my way of saying…”I don’t need your business and I did this for free”. Couldn’t you just sing??????

  8. Marsha says:

    I love this! Make the clothes fit the body, not the body fit the clothes. Maybe I should grumble less when I have to make my own adjustments, which are certainly minor in comparison.

  9. Carolyn says:

    I am in awe of your ability to fit a variety of customers! The visual on this was awesome and so helpful. Can’t wait to see the next installation.

    • mrsmole says:

      Me too! Throw in a blouse with princess seams front and back…let’s see that makes 7 separate pieces plus a collar and facings…whew…and what pattern is she using? Silhouette #700 and adding a collar from the same pattern line #600.

  10. Hats off to you! This is WAAAAYYY beyond what I’m capable of, and frankly, what I’m probably willing to even learn in the future…but you do it so well and with such grace! (Which is of course why I would bring anything to you rather than muddle about with it on my own!)

    Lucky customer – she’s going to look terrific! Thanks for sharing more insights as to fitting and creating patterns. It really does help to understand how things are put together, even if I don’t anticipate using it regularly myself :)

    • mrsmole says:

      Never say never, Cheryl. As our population is aging surely you will know someone who needs some serious altering in the future. You would be surprised at how many women write to me from all over the US and Canada asking for help with their formal dresses. If only we lived closer things would be easier! Beyond looking better in her clothes after the alteration to her patterns and dummy just imagine how nice it will feel to have clothes that don’t tug in all the wrong places and ride up and can’t button properly…if my clothes fit it is one less thing to think about…who doesn’t want that?

      • Monique says:

        YES, this is great and as it should be. Wonderful work! What a difference this will make in how your customer feels (also about herself) in her clothes.

  11. BeaJay says:

    Thanks for such an informative post. Amazing the difference between the two sides. I know I have issues with sway back etc – at the moment I am still trying hard to fit a pattern out of packet. Once I manage that I shall have to start looking at all of my body’s oddities………. hmmm…. maybe I don’t want to look and a wrinkle will do. Great work you are doing – not only with your clients but bringing this information to us.

  12. accordion3 says:

    In my professional life I work with many unsymmetrically shaped people. They may be weak or incapacitated on one side only, or in their legs, or a combination of things. I find their clothing choices fascinating. Some of them clearly care and have gone to some lengths to ensure clothes that look good on top of ease of dressing and laundry survivability. One relative of a nursing home resident went on to create a business for herself in selling clothes for residents. Lots of vibrant prints in several flattering shapes, deep armholes and necklines with pretty buttons. All made up in a bombproof polyester that many laundries have tried to kill.

    • mrsmole says:

      Bombproof polyester…I love that description! Your cat is such a divine model on your blog…I love calico cats! Deep or lowered necklines and armholes are the key to comfort and yes yes…pretty buttons! Thanks for dropping in and safe bike riding!

      • accordion3 says:

        Thank you for visiting! Fifi was from the shelter and took 6 months to warm to us. Now, 2.5 years later, she dominates the house!
        The business still exists, it is called Petal Back Clothing – http://petalbackclothing.com.au/products – you may get some ideas. The pretty buttons have been superseded but the bombproof 😜 fabric remains. It is actually pleasant to touch and wears very well.

  13. TrishB says:

    I agree with everyone who has said they are in awe of your brilliance! How lovely to make clothes fit properly for someone with those challenges. She must feel so much better in these custom-made garments, rather than having to make do with what’s available.
    Like other people who read your blog, I am learning so many new skills due to your photos and wonderfully clear explanations. Thank you so much!

    • mrsmole says:

      Hopefully you never have to make such complicated alterations but at least this post shows that we all have nothing to complain about with our bodies when we have to do a single shoulder adjustment or FBA…that’s minor!

  14. Elle says:

    Amen with TrishB! Your skills are marvelous. Thank you for sharing them!

  15. Pella says:

    Fascinating , I’m looking forward to the next installment.

  16. I wish I had thought to use gingham on my mum when I fitted her very rounded back. She has osteoporosis and is very bent now. I used calico and fitted to her body – I can’t remember so much laughter for a long time – I think she quite enjoyed being drawn on!
    Well done for helping enable your client to feel – and look – great.

    • mrsmole says:

      Isn’t it a blast being able to run a marking pen all over the muslin fabric and change things? How nice that you were able to help your mom with her pattern changes, Kim!

  17. Gjeometry says:

    Oooh, looks very complicated, but you make it seem easy!

    • mrsmole says:

      You can do the same Catja, pin out what you don’t want (darts, tucks, seams) and save what you do want and mark necklines higher or lower and bust points, anything you need to transfer back to the paper keeping the grain lines perpendicular or parallel with the floor. There are classes on Craftsy for draping now so you don’t have to enroll in college…just watch it when you want.

  18. Lynn says:

    This is a beginner question, but how do you transfer the markings after you have pinned the muslin on your client? Do you draw between the pins?

  19. mrsmole says:

    Good question, Lynn. I use a felt tip or gel pen to draw between the pins and then fill in the dart legs and increase or decrease in side seams. Once the gingham piece is laid on top the blank paper I use these needle tip tracing wheel
    http://www.wawak.com/products/product.cfm/pid/10885/Needle-Point-Tracing-Wheel
    to mark the paper beneath. Under the paper I have a soft cutting mat that allows the needle tips to pierce the paper. Then I trace across all the little holes with a pencil. Add seam allowances and you are in business!

  20. Alethia says:

    I need to get those curved tools!!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Claire was running a special on them…write to her at her Etsy address and tell her you saw them here. I love them in the 2 different widths as some pattern use 5/8 and others use 3/8.

  21. symondezyn says:

    That is a challenge indeed! I feel blessed having only a few alterations in comparison to fit myself, but as you say, bodies change, and it’s good to know there is hope for those who have more challenging figures to fit :) It must be very rewarding helping someone feel better about themselves – especially with all the crusty clients you have to deal with LOL.

    I really MUST get a dummy one of these days… not sure the claustrophobia could handle the making of a duct tape one but it’s awfully tempting!!

  22. mrsmole says:

    Well Amanda, you will need 2 friends to help cut tape strips and follow the video (Jean Haas) that I used. But in the end you and your 2 friends will all have dummies and lots of laughs! Do it in the winter so you don’t get too hot standing still!

    • symondezyn says:

      LOL if only I HAD two sewing friends that lived nearby…. my mum sews though, so perhaps I can convince her and my boyfriend that they, too, need dummies hahaha!! ^__^

      • mrsmole says:

        Tell your mother and boyfriend that it would make it easier for you to sew for them if they had their own dummies…see if they take the bait!

      • Carolyn Gazerro says:

        A body form is well worth the time and effort. I use mine all the time. It was part of a Master Seamstress course I took many years ago. Body has changed do to added years but padding is the solution. Form was poured with chemicals when mixed hardens.

  23. whoah, the joys of custom sewing, aye Mrs. Mole?? :)

    • mrsmole says:

      When you compare this to hemming pants, mostly black and brown, in stacks of 12 at a time…I’d take pattern work any day, Lena!

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