Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Green Dream - my first draped dress...

Yes, I do wish I went about things more systematically sometimes... To choose a very luscious, expensive silk for a first draping project might not have been the most reasonable thing... However, I have discovered that I work much better on the spur of the moment, the whatever-the-heck I feel like doing in a given moment, and that can barely ever be planned.

In my defense though: I DID buy and watch the draping classes from Paul Gallo over at Craftsy, as well as the "Sewing with Silk" class with Linda Lee - both highly recommendable.

This came out

I definitely want to do more/mostly draping in the future. I find the process much more creative and fun from the first moment on. I have never cared for the tracing and cutting out paper patterns...
This green ombré silk was just amazing to begin with. It looked so good just thrown over the doll! Which ended up being one of the biggest challenges - not overworking it, so the fabric itself could speak...

However, there are definite draw-backs to draping... Let me elaborate...
With an expensive fabric like this, you don't want to cut right into it. And you even have to stay away from pinning too much, since pins leave little visible holes in fabrics like this...
But you need fabrics that drape similarly, or actually, exactly the same way, which well, will you ever happen to have them? I obviously didn't, but went with a cheap synthetic satin and a light cotton.

My draped dress is made up of only two pieces - yes, like I said, I didn't go easy on myself. Worst of all, one side didn't even have a seam, but I let the fabric run from the front around the waist to the back...

On the other side, the fabric from the front gathered with pleats into a side zip.

While I now knew roughly how I wanted the draping to be, I still didn't dare cut into my silk. I draped  it on the doll without cutting, just folding under the edges and then slip-stitching along what was to become the shape of the final dress:

Using clothing pins I draped the zipper side and again fixed everything with slip-stitches.

Finally I was ready to take it off the doll and carefully cut along my markings, leaving some extra seam allowance wherever possible (above all, I didn't really have much extra fabric...):

Above is the front part with the skirt part to wrap around to the back...
Below is the second part of the dress, which makes up the back bodice. The white selvage edge got folded under to form the back neckline.

Here you see the zipper side up close. The dress is very comfortable AND flattering, due to the draping around the mid-secion...:

The other side is a bit of a crunch where the back bodice part "corners" into the waist... But most of the time my right arm is pretty much in front of all of that, so it's really not too bothersome...:

A definite draw-back to constructing garments this way is that you can't really plan the finishings on the inside very well. In my case, I had no idea how to finish any edges when I started. It also turned out that I didn't want any hard edges, which basically meant hand-sewing a lot.

Since there is a traditional way of hand-rolling hems in Switherland, I feel obliged to give you a mini-tutorial.
Fold your edge over about 1cm. Right at the fold, take about 5mm of fabric on your needle and pull it through:

Now go right under the fold and take about 1mm, or really just 2-4 threads worth of fabric on your needle, and again, pull it through, but don't pull it tight yet!

Repeat these two steps about 5 times or so, always leaving the thread quite loose:

Now pull on the thread carefully:

And voilĂ , the edge rolls under magically!

This is what the front looks like. I used this for my sleeve:

For the hem I used catch stitches:

I am curious to hear your opinions about this dress! I have to say, I think it doesn't photograph too well - the satin moves so swiftly, causing shadows that bother me much less in real life than in the pictures... and the draping in the photos is NEVER in the right place, while in real life it is "allowed" to move however it wants to...

I might have liked it a touch longer, but I actually really didn't have any more fabric...

The back is a tiny bit crooked, due to the wrapping action on one side. But hey, it is an asymmetrical dress anyway...

That's all for now, so go drape for yourselves, it's so much fun! :-)
I will post again soon, there is a lot to catch up on. Here is a glimpse of what's next:

Take care,



  1. Wow - spur of the moment really does work for you; this dress is absolutely beautiful and a gorgeous fit!

  2. excellent work,congratulations Katja, evi

  3. This is really spectacular. A great job. It must feel fantastic on swishing around you!

  4. So very beautiful! I am so glad you are posting to your blog again!!

  5. Oh thank you so much for the compliment, and also for welcoming me back! ;-)

  6. Thank you Sofie. Yes, it is a gorgeous feeling - can't wait for summer!

  7. Thank you very much Gabrielle!

  8. This dress is so awesome and it suits you so well. You have inspired me to try to do draping too!