Fashion Draping Dress Making Basics is taught by Paul Gallo. By working in muslim, Paul will teach you how to make a very basic pattern of a bodice, skirt and sleeve – this will end up being a sloper for creating future garments.
Lesson 1 – Introduction
Paul does a quick three-minute overview of the class, showing what he will teach you to create and how it can be easily manipulated to look like different clothing. Then, if you are interested, he tells you a bit about himself.
In the introduction Paul also advertises his own product, called Getta Grip Sewing Clips. They sell for about $20, and do look quite useful. However I thought that they were somewhat expensive, given that they are used to hold bits of material in place; in fact I can go down to the stationery store and buy fold-back clips for a lot cheaper that will do the same basic job. Benefit with the fold-back clips, is you can get them all different sizes, beneficial for working in tight spaces of thin fabric.
Lesson 2 – Preparing the Muslin
You will need to know what the grain and a cross-grain are as Paul says that the cross-grain should generally be horizontal to the body as it has more give in stretch. If you have made several clothing patterns, you should already have an understanding of grains.
As the title suggests, this lesson is mostly how to prepare your muslin fabric for proper draping. It covers topics such as how much material to cut, how to draw an accurate grain-line on the fabric for reference when draping, how to make sure your fabric piece is squared (i.e. not warped along a particular grain), and finally how to appropriately iron fabric for best results.
Lesson 3 – Draping the Bodice Front
Paul begins by discussing the differences in dress forms that you can buy. I would have loved if he went into a bit more details about quality of each mannequin, popular brands and so forth. It would have been nice if he suggested the possibility of the “duct-tape mannequin” that you can make yourself (it’s not perfect but it works, and its exactly your size so if your making something just for you… then go for it). He does mention that the adjustable dress form does have the hole down the centre front, meaning that you will need to pin on the other side of the form (this makes more sense when you watch the video). He shows you how to solve this problem.
He starts to show you how to place the fabric on the dress form, making sure that the grain-line follows the centre-front of the dress form. You will learn how to pin your mannequin, making sure that when you start pinning the side-seams that your earlier pinning won’t let the fabric slip. My first few draping projects didn’t use this pinning angle, and let me tell you it can make a huge difference and save you time.
You might be tempted to pull your fabric into place, but rather you should smooth the fabric into place with your hand.
Finally for this lesson Paul will show you how to mark your fabric so that when you unpin your dress form the material will be representative of your pattern piece. As he goes he gives you little tips like how to mark your seam lines.
Lesson 4 – Draping the Bodice Back
Did you know that dress forms don’t have shoulder blades? I didn’t think of that. Of course you need to take this into account when draping to make sure that there is room to move in the garment. To correctly drape the bodice back you will need to mark your grain-line for the centre back seam, and your cross-grain to place across the shoulder blades. This hold your fabric true to the grain. But consideration for the shoulder blades doesn’t stop there; Paul proves that you need to consider the ease in that area for movement. He does this by actually pinning ease into the fabric – a very interesting technique.
Apparently back shoulder darts are only 1/2″ wide. Did anyone else know that? I didn’t. Paul does mention this may vary depending upon the dress form’s size (he is using a size 8). What I really want to know is what the other standard measurements are. Not everyone is a size 8 in pattern sizes… Hey it’s not uncommon for up to a size 20. So what is the standard sizes of back shoulder darts for all sizes?
After showing you how and where to make darts, Paul finalizes by marking the fabric for when he unpins the fabric.
Lesson 5 – The Skirt
Determine the location of your hip – this is where your largest girth is. Generally for mannequins this is about 7″ down from the waist, however in my experience this isn’t necessary so for the “average” person; such as the largest part of my hips are actually between 9 and 10″ below my waist. Paul uses this location for the cross-grain of your fabric, and suggests that you marks both the front and back at the same time.
The front and back sections of the skirt is essentially the same; pin straight up at the side seams and centre seams, then gather the excess into a dart (or two depending upon body shape).
Lesson 6 – Truing the Muslin
You will really need a see through ruler, or a french ruler – I bought a few french hip curved type rulers at a metre long material.
This is the step that will allow you to check your lengths and make sure that everything will match in the end when sewing.
Join the cross marks that you made (at places like darts and each corners). As you do this for both sides, check that the length is the same for both front and back pattern pieces (where the seams will join obviously) and if possible check on your mannequin as well. Some areas don’t necessarily have to match in length even if they end up joining, for example your front and back neck; although the distance from the neck to the shoulder should match. By following your cross marks (and not the pin lines we marked, you will get a much more accurate fitting (pinning the darts for example might have accidentally be curved rather than straight).
Don’t forget to square off areas that join, such as the neck; you want the edges of the seam to join nicely.
Another standard measurement that you will need to learn is that your pattern pieces will need to drop by 1″ at the armhole (the material doesn’t come all the way up to your pit for example).
It’s in this tutorial that Paul shows you how to add your seam allowances, and just how much to add for different areas of the body (i.e. the neck will use a different seam allowance than the rest of the bodice).
Lesson 7 – Building the Sleeve
This lesson will refer to the class materials, however Paul does show you how to use your own sloper measurements to get customised fit (after all isn’t that what the class is about). Mark your grain line, and your cross grains at your sleeve cap, bicep and wrist lengths.
The only part that needs close attention is when he is drafting the curve of the sleeve cap.
Honestly before watching this lesson I had absolutely no idea how to draft a sleeve pattern… and now it just seems so simple! Just remember to check your measurements.
Lesson 8 – Checking Your Drape
Didn’t measure correctly earlier, or forgot? Well now Paul will show you how to “fit” your muslin to make sure that everything fits perfectly together. This is done before converting everything into a paper pattern as basically a safety measure: everything needs to fit nicely on a sloper.
It’s not as confusing as it sounds, really your just pinning everything together – blouse, skirt and sleeves – as part of the final truing process. Check that your seams line up and that fitting or design ease is still in the pattern.
This step is especially important if you have adjusted measurements anywhere during Lesson 8. By doing this check you are trying to simulate how the garment will appear when more “finished”. Also, make sure the check your garment for fitting ease – its important for you to be able to move and breathe in what you plan to wear!
Lesson 9 – Drafting the Pattern
Add any seam allowances that you need. Paul adds 1/2″ rather than the standard 5/8″, which in respect is probably much easier to measure out on a clear ruler. I personally find that 5/8″ is too large for a seam allowance, so will probably do 1/2″ or less myself, but this is a personal preference.
Paul uses a pattern wheel to trace out his fabric pattern onto a piece of paper. If you don’t have one of these tools, you might find this step a little difficult. My best suggestion is to pin through the fabric and into the paper… There are also option of coloured wax paper, where pressure will transfer markings onto the paper.
An important step that you need to remember whilst tracing your pattern is to add pattern notches – without these it will be difficult to line up your material appropriately – especially if you draft more complex designs from this sloper. Include your notches at dart legs, and add any punch holes to mark your dart points, bust points, and so forth.
When drafting the bodice section Paul shows you important tips on how to make the pattern piece for both the left and right fronts (or backs), rather than the idea of cut on fold. I’m not 100% sure why you would not just make your pattern piece cut on fold – unless of course you are making a proper sloper which is to be later manipulated asymmetrically. If you plan to make a standard dress out of the drape you just made, cut on fold works fine in most cases.
Taking this drafting stage one step further, Paul shows you how to add facing to your sloper – for example around the neck line. It seems fairly simple after he shows you how to create the pattern – in fact you will probably go straight ahead and start mocking up your own patterns in no time.
Label your pattern:
- Include a style number, such as #12013 (1st pattern for 2013);
- Pattern name, such as Craftsy Dress Sloper;
- The piece name, such as Back Skirt;
- The size, such as Size 8; and
- The number of pieces to cut.
Lesson 10 – Constructing the Dress
Now this lesson I found to be quite interesting; in terms of why did they include? Surely if your drafting your own pattern slopers – or fashion patterns – you already have an understanding of how to cut and sew basic sewing patterns. Paul also discusses the standard tips such as wash and dry your fabric first, but once again you should probably already be familiar with these sorts of things.
At least for simple clothing, once you learn the basics of draping it’s all pretty straight forward; and can even be done by habit. The most important tip is to remember your grain-lines.
I love how the video editor has darkened all relevant lines drawn during this class – as well as highlighting any lines being spoken about. Whilst Paul has used a blue pen, it isn’t always easily seen, and the video editor has made a great decision by adding those virtual lines.
Throughout most of the videos Paul uses the mannequin’s princess lines to determine where the darts should be placed. Unfortunately not all dress-forms (particularly home made ones) have these lines as a guide. I would have liked a basic guide on how to determine placement of those lines (is it half the distance between centre-front seam and side seam for example?).
If you are interested in learning how to drape fabric and make your own sewing patterns, then I do highly recommend this class. Paul explains it so simply that even a beginner could learn how to do it (though I suggest have some basic sewing experience first).
I honestly couldn’t say if this was a pro or a con about the class; I really want to buy a proper dress form now. So far I have drafted clothes specifically for my size, however I am interested in selling my patterns now and thus need more standardised sizing.
Again, I do really recommend checking out Paul’s class on Fashion Draping: Dress Making Basics.
*Update* Paul has released another class on Craftsy called Fashion Draping: Bias Design (read my review) that you may also be interested in. It’s aimed at the people who have mastered the basics and want to take the next challenge.