Monday, January 10, 2011

Draping Circular Skirt (Part II): Measurements and Dress Form

I am as impatient as you are probably. But this part needs to be done: We need to take measurements and mark the dress form. Until recenty, the draping process I eagerly observed watching episodes of Project Runway, as well as my favorite Signé Chanel documentary was a complete mystery. Was there a system at how they applied that black tape to a dress form? Or, how did they know how to place the fabric on the form?

I tried to understand the logic but have never managed to do it myself,.. that is until now. So, what is the answer to successful draping project? Like in many other things, the key is preparation. And in draping the preparations are: taking measurements, marking permanent and style lines on the dress form and, finally, preparing the muslin.

Taking Measurements:

For the circular skirt project, you will need to take three measurements and make sure that the measurements of your dress form correspond to yours.

Reality Check:
You will most likely find out that the front and the back sections of your waistline (and hipline) differ in size. Correct measurement and marking preserve the balance of the garment and  allow your garment to hang properly from side to side. Before I took the measurements, I placed twill tape around my waistline and hipline, pinned both ends together and marked imaginary side seams on both tapes with pins.

Front and Back Waist Width – Hold one finger between your waist and the tape band and breathing out. Measure the front waistline from side to side. Measure the back waistline from side to side.
Front and Back Hiplines – measure around the fullest part of your hips, from side to side, for the front and for the back hipline. Keep the feet together.
Hip Height – measure the height from your hip line to your waistline. It would make it easier for your if you tie twill tape around your waist and your hips before you take this measurement.

Preparing the Dress Form

For draping, it is very hellpful to mark a dress form with so-called ‘permanent demarcation lines’. Use twill or bolduc tape fixing them with fine dressmakers pins. (I prefer shorter fine dressmaker pins, as they are hardly visible and do not disturb the drape of fines fabrics). Use as many pins as necessary to prevent the tape from shifting, appr. every 2” (or 4-5 cm.).

In this project, I made sure that my form was true to my measurements - I have already padded it around the waistline and hips using some fiberfill and woven fusible interfacing. Let me know if you want to know how I did it, I will be happy to provide you with some resources and tips I used.

I marked the following lines

Neck Width (NW)
Place the tape around the neck as low as possible in a nice curve. You will need this measurement to mark center front and center back.

Center Front (CF) and Center Back (CB)
are the next lines to mark. They should always be perpendicular to the floor, and the grainline of the garment should always align with these lines. Marking these lines is very helpful in the process of aligning the grain of the fabric - if this part is done accurately, your
garment won’t pull or twist.

Centre Front (CF) line starts at front centre neck and ends at the bottom of the form. I don’t cut the tape loose yet, but fix it with a pin on the roll (see picture above) and secure the loose end first, wherever it starts (in this case, centre neck). This helps align the tape perfectly horizontally, just make sure that the floor is even ( I leave in an older house, and so larger rooms have a slight slope).  

Centre Back (CB): repeat the same with the back starting at back centre neck.

Waist Width (WW):
Wrap the tape around the waist of your dress form

Hip Width (HW)
Wrap the twill tape around the widest area of the dress form.

Side Seams (SS):
Pin the tape along the sides eams on your form. Make sure that the front and back waistline and hipline are true to your measurements.

To mark the placement of the sidelines for the waist, measure half of your front waistline from the center front to your right and mark the place with a pin. Repeat the same for the left side seam.

Now, measure half of your front hipline from the center front to the left and to the right, mark the side seams with pins. 

This is my dress form after applying 'permanent demarcation lines'


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