Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Draping the toile

I have researched pattern cutting of the time, for since in books on Madeleine Vionnet, the pioneer of bias cutting, as well as in Janet Arnold. However it was immediately clear to me that the only real option for this dress was to drape on the stand. Using what I had discovered in books on draping as well as (notably) my research at Blandford, I came up with a plan on how to drape regarding the placement of the grains.

I decided to use a cheap, drapey fabric that would accurately mimic the flow of the required top fabric, instead of cheap calico (which is too stiff, but is what I might normally use due to economy).

There was nothing for it but to get started so I spent a morning draping and re-draping. I have not created patterns in this manner for over a year (during the 'Candide' project in second year!) so it took me a while to get used to in but in fact I discovered that just as with flat pattern drafting, with or without systems, there was nothing to it but to keep trying. After a while, and a few changes, I managed to achieve something which I felt bore resemblance to the design. However what I did discover was that, as I had anticipated, in fact it was not possible to completely transfer the illustration onto the mannequin (that I had padded up according to my model).

Firstly, it was impossible to create the exact same line across the side of the thigh as they didn't match up to be a continuous line! I therefore just had to make a decision and came up with something as close as I could which retained the same feel.

Secondly, if I created the same flared elements at the skirt hem on the front, with godets inserted as suggested by the illustration, the silhouette of the skirt changed completely. I decided to eliminate the godet idea and keep the skirt pieces whole.

I also found elements of the bodice difficult to drape, but hope that this could be changed at the fitting when it is on an actual, moving figure.

Additionally, lthough I did not want to make the dress have a train, purely for practical reasons, I left the hemline very long so that it could be set at the fittings.

Difficulty was found when I un-pinned the pieces and set them on paper to trace them but I measured all pieces carefully, checked them against grains, and made adjustments as I felt best.

Here are selected photographs of my draping progression:


Adding more pleating across the bodice:

Cutting into the seam allowances releases tension and allowed me to get a smoother, more accurate fit to the mannequin.

Godets in the skirt hem give the wrong silhouette. The skirt is altogether too wide:


Raising the bust and releasing tension along this seam line:

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