In June I started to learn a new skill – draping, or modelling, on the stand. The summer term covered dresses; this term it is skirts.
In case you don’t know what I am talking about we are making patterns for garments using the draping method. We take fabric, work with a stand or mannequin, and create a shape that we can turn into a dress, or a skirt. It is a completely different technique to the other way of making patterns for clothes with a piece of paper, a set square, a set of measurements and a pencil. It is quite freeing, and less constrained. It has lots of rules but there is plenty of opportunity to create unique designs and styles.
I have been sharing my thinking and some pictures of skirts that could be created this way. And I have had lots of interesting feedback to share.
My favourites are the last three in the small illustrations, of which the final two would probably be most practical or wearable for me. I’m sure you will come up with something ‘less predictable’ than variations on the classic – are you looking to end up with something you can fit into your wardrobe, or treating it as a design experiment?
Mrs Mole put the same thing another way
It is all well and good to wrap fabric around a body or mannequin and do clever pleats and such but does it say anything about the wearer other than, “Look at my big hips/butt”? I find most of these very shapeless and awkward…sorry…my mind will not climb that mountain.
Finally a very honest comment from Anne, who is also learning about Japanese design at an evening class.
These (Japanese style) garments don’t fit into my style.
Here is my take on this.
Draping encourages creativity as it doesn’t have to start with a sketch or a clear idea. You can let the fabric do the creating, and test things out in practice. I wear skirts for work, most days, and many of the styles I currently wear – variations on a straight skirt, or an A line, can easily be created with flat pattern cutting. So the draping allows me to go much further with design and fabric than I can easily envisage. I am still working within my relatively novice skills, and in a class with a set of projects.
So to answer the three commenters.
- Yes, I am trying to make something I can wear. This is the whole point of sewing for me.
- I want a garment that fits well, looks attractive, that is “wearable”, and “flattering”.
- I also want a bit of fizz, a little incitement – a small rebellion in my rather conservative world, perhaps?
So in summary I want to make something a little different, but not too outlandish, or ridiculous.
And there is one more point, from Mary.
But if you remotely think you would have an opportunity to wear a full length skirt with a sheer overlay and embroidery I would love to see it!
I think she is saying that while the design might not be outlandish, when might we have an occasion to wear something “special”? I remember when I first started making clothes in the 1980s. My teacher encouraged me to make stunning OTT garments – using beautiful fabrics, surface embellishment, colour and detail. She made me push the boundaries of my own skills and design choices. If I said “I could never wear a satin, patchwork jacket” she suggested wearing it with jeans. Or a T shirt. Or trainers.
In my view Avant Garde pattern cutting is not an “occasion” issue. You can wear draped or creative patterns every day. It is how you wear them.
My circle dress might look amazing on Michelle Obama at a state banquet in heavy weight crepe backed satin. But I like it in cheap, market-stall fabric, on a Saturday afternoon, with trainers. I went to the park with the grandchildren and felt just great in this dress.
What do you think? How far would you go? Would you wear something that made your “hips/butt” look enormous? Would you have a design experiment that you would never be able to wear? Do you stick to boring classics? Or do you make things that are “out there” but never actually wear them.