Draping on the stand 0.17 – the Schiaparelli blouse

So I have finally got to the end of my draping classes. I have been learning to drape for a nearly a year – dresses, skirts, top, and bias draping. My final project is to drape a blouse that brings all my learning together.

I chose to try to copy a Schiaparelli blouse that I had come across on Pattern Vault. Schiaparelli is known for her witty but wearable designs, her clever cutting and her amazing originality. This 1949 outfit features a great fitted jacket with two pockets – one on top of the other, a skirt with the darts orientated towards the side seam, but the best thing, to my mind is the blouse. It is made in two separate but identical parts. You wear just one as an asymmetric, off the shoulder blouse, or you put one on top of the other (like the pocket, get it?). The blouse comes up the neck a little ensuring that when worn together the two blouses create a nice neckline under a four button suit. I actually saw this pattern on eBay recently, but it went for over £200! This became my challenge for my final project – to make a two part blouse that I might incorporate in my SWAP, all being well.

It is a fascinating design, and I have never seen anything quite like it. The left side features buttons; the right side is fastened with hooks.

Draping the blouse (three hours)

Up until now we have not draped sleeves, but my tutor Daniel brought in a pair of plastic arms to allow us to try draping a sleeve. These are available from Morplan. The only muslin available in the last two weeks of terms was rather heavy, but I managed to get a rough version of the blouse. Of course the drawings are beautiful rather than completely accurate so we will have to see what happens!

I marked the moulage carefully. The shoulder seam, cross marking where the sleeve started, the waist, and every pleat – shoulder, front right and back waist. Then I took it off the stand,

Truing the moulage and making a paper pattern (three hours)

One of the things I have learnt, due to my flat pattern cutting experience, is that it is often useful to redistribute pleats and darts a little once the moulage is flattened, in order to create more symmetry and balance. I like (where feasible) all the pleats to be of the same width and spacing. So I measure how much has been suppressed at each pleat, add it together and divide by the number of pleats. I did this at the shoulder and at the front waist. I created seam allowances and facings at the waist fastening, and drew in the buttonhole placement adjacent to the front waist darts, at the waist. I left the unusual and uneven shaping at the back as I felt  it was necessary for the design.

As this is a close fitting kimono sleeve I had also to draft a gusset. This is where my tutor came into his own. If I had not been in a class I am not sure I would have worked out that we needed a gusset, but Daniel said I needed one, mumbled about Pythagoras theorem and then found a book for me to work from. Actually it was a pretty simple diamond shape with sides measuring 8cms.

Draping a schiaparelli blouse
Laying out the moulage and marking the pleats

Once this was complete, I drew around the outline, finding that the fabric now fitted almost exactly to the width of the paper showing that the original was probably made for 36″ fabric. Discoveries like this fill me with wonder. I feel I am actually following in the footsteps of a great designer. Even when I was trueing the pleats, although I knew they were not exactly as Schiaparelli had intended, I had somehow cracked the code. I drew the hems in freehand as none of the curved ruler gave me the sweeping curve I had in mind. I put the newly pinned pattern back on the stand and it seemed to work.

Making a toile (one hour)

With draping on the stand most of the work goes into making the pattern. Often the drape itself goes rather quickly (although I spend quite a lot of time just looking at it and thinking about it – especially how it will make up and how the fastenings will work). But once you have got pattern more or less right the first toile is really about fitting the garment to your own measurements.

I used some very light weight muslin (cheesecloth). To make the toile (just one half of the garment) I needed to sew in the darts and insert the gusset.

And then just to sure I slipped it on. At 6am, before work, over my yoga top.

It may be a little bit loose, but I like the generous, droopiness of it. I have bought three metres of some soft cotton/silk and will  make it up in due course.


18 Responses

  1. thedementedfairy

    This is very intriguing to my mathematical brain…I know I wouldn’t have the patience to actually try it for myself though! This will be a stunner I’m sure…nearly there now!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks so much Pips. I hope it will work! The back comes round the the front at the side – that is the clever bit. And the buttons, to hold it all together.

  2. Mary Funt

    Looks fabulous. The drape in muslin gives the general idea but it looks so much better in the soft, drapey cheesecloth. This will look wonderful in your soft cotton/silk. The draping class must have been such fun.

  3. Anne

    This will look fabulous in your chosen fabric. A fascinating pattern. I enjoyed your description of the draping process for it. Some of the people in my class are draping for the final project, though I’m not.

  4. Mary

    Wow. This blouse will be so artful and unique and how much do I enjoy the mental gymnastics involved in cracking the Schap code? I’m hoping once you have finished you can lay your eyes on the actual pattern pieces and compare. Marvelous work Kate!

  5. Stephanie

    Wonderful work, Kate, and such an interesting thought process. I am loving this!! I’ve had on the backburner that Schiaparelli bathing tank top with fish for ages. I’ve been planning to knit a similar one as a running tunic, believe it or not, but I keep on putting it off.

    • Stephanie

      PS Forgot to add that I love the idea of this in an ethereal fabric, given the gathering at the neck. Looks like you have done a perfect job of it and I can’t wait to see your final fabric.

  6. SJ Kurtz

    Oh, I love that you draped this pattern! I would treasure the envelope for the sketchy art more than anything.

    Pretty much, you make a second sleeve as the first, and you’ve got a whole top.


  7. Abbey

    I am delighted for you that you’ve cracked this blouse! Schiaparelli was truly a masterful visionary (indeed, so much so that even your cheesecloth blouse looks lovely!) and this design is so special. Very eager to see the silk-cotton version in the end!

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