October 22, 2010

First draping experiment

Calling this a draping experiment is not entirely correct. Although I made it by shaping the material on Mary, it has little to do with the time-honoured craft of draping.I actually have a book on the proper technique of draping at home now (on loan from the local library. did I mention I love libraries?) and I'm dying to try it out. If I could only find Mary a way to stand. I went looking for options yesterday and once again, I returned empty-handed. Now E has offered his assistance...

This top started out as this 80's monstrosity, bought for 1 euro at second hand stall at the market. Not the roughly cut-off sleeves which I serged before washing the shirt.
There were large breast pockets and there was a notable difference in colour between the fabric inside and outside of them. As a result, this shirt was a poor candidate indeed for any kind of normal resizing or refashion.
Until I realised I could try and enlist Mary's help.

I started out, as I've shown before, by cutting the sleeves off and the sideseams open. Then, I put the shirt on Mary back-to-front and started laying the new front into pleats trying to achieve a pleasing shape. At that point, I wrote the earlier post about it. Then, I had to iron the shirt and re-do the pleats. The real challenge was creating a back and sleeves to match. I don't think the back really matches the front (which is in fact a bit of a pet peeve of mine) but I wanted to keep the collar and I didn't have that much fabric to play around with. The old top front of the shirt is now the back yoke and the rest of the back is made up from the fabric of the old sleeves. Darted and with an invisible zipper in the center back seam.
The sleeves were draped for what was left of the old front (minus those pockets). I actually only draped the sleeve head and the added the rest free hand. I think I did well for a first try. There should have been a bit more ease in the sleeve head (I had to ease the arm scye into sleeve a little bit...) and usually, my sleeve hems hang more straight, but it does look like a sleeve.

One of the big challenges of making this top came when I had to go from pinning and bits of hand basting on the dummy to actual construction. Suddenly, I had to determine where put the side seams exactly. And whether or not I had actually added sufficient ease for wearing... I made the body first, stitched it together and then I put it back on Mary to make the sleeves. I think that was the right order, knowing where the side seams are is quite practical when draping a sleeve.
When all was done, I couldn't find a zipper in the right colour. So today, I decided to break with my usual habit and buy an overpriced one at the fabric store. Now, my top is finally finished.

It's nice to wear because the fabric is ever-so-soft. The pleats are quite a bit lower and less straight then I originally envisioned them. I had pulled them taut on Mary, so I think it has to do with the added ease. Unavoidable really. There is a bit of a grainline issue with the back yoke. Which is, of course, terribly off grain and it sometimes shows. The worst thing is the fact that the whole garment twists a bit. The tight gathers on the hip somehow pull the side seam a bit to the front. I think that is caused by two things: the sheer weight of that pleated section and the weird grainlines at the side seams which are a result of all that pleating.
Regardless of all that, and of my usual fussiness, I think I will wear this. It's quite a departure from my usual, rather structured things and yet, it is sort of my style, the colour colour suits me and, despite being fussy about cut and fit, I always believe in wearing my learning curves ;)


  1. Re: Mary's stand - I assume that you've tried to go to Value Village or someplace like that to pick up a used coat stand? That's the direction I'd go, if I needed a legless mini-me to get up off the table!

  2. wow! what a pretty and beautiful piece. it reminds me of paris for some reason. my favorate part are the sleeves and how it looks from the back. so graceful!

  3. Wow, this looks amazing! You did a fabulous job!
    I look the look from the front the best, I like the unusual neckline and the subtle draping at the waist and hipline. Very interesting look.
    Re Mary, I couldn't do without the stand for my mannequin (mine is Bessie, and I love reading the names people give their forms!)