Hot! Ask: 12/12/11

Have you ever drafted or draped? Do you have any tips for folks who have never done it before?


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. I’m a learner sewist but grew up with a patternmaker for a Mum. If I’m honest, I learn more when I draft my own patterns than I do when sewing from a commercial pattern.
    I think it’s because it forces me to think hard about the construction, the cutting, the techniques and the end product. I’ve ended up with a few bummer projects but I learned some important lessons about the entire sewing process. Maybe it’s a bad habit of mine, but given I paid for expensive sewing lessons and learned less in those that I have when going alone, I’m going to continue drafting (and making muslins before cutting the good stuff – very important lesson there!) and learning with the internet as my sewing tutor and cheerleader!

  2. I leant Patternmaking at Tech, but I love using commercial patterns now ‘cos I am super lazy. But I really should draft myself a post-children bodice block (and skirt block) with added tummy to lay over my patterns to make sure they will go around my girth, before I cut into the fabric!
    A good habit it so check the seam lengths – front to back, ensuring they are the same. Pivot over any curves
    And the seam run around the neckline – you can butt the shoulders together, as though they would be when they are sewn, with the seam allowance hanging over – and draw the correct neckline in – things can go wrong here!

  3. I have drafted (invented?) my own patterns for non-clothing items. I am still so bad at following commercial patterns that I am not anywhere near knowledgeable enough to draft/drape my own patterns!

  4. I have made slopers and done a bit of flat pattern. I’m all self taught and desperately want to learn to drape. I don’t live in an area where I can take a class and the few text books I’ve been interested in are a real investment. I’d love to find an online source.

  5. Draping is a great way to create a dress. You can start with a simple bodice on a tailors dummy and then start to pin fabric to the dress. The most flattering drapery follows the body and you can really learn how to use fabric on the bias. Use a mock fabric similar to what you want to use and then photograph the stages. You can teach yourself this, and learn how different fabrics fall without cutting into them until you have what you want.