Dress making – draping

I am often asked how I make clothes when I introduce myself as a fashion designer. So, I thought it might be interesting to describe a process of dress making.

There are mainly two ways to make patterns of clothes; draping on the stand and flat pattern making. I usually use both ways depending on the design. Some designs are easier to work on papers, others might need to be considered three-dimentionally. I am going to show how I draped a dress this time. The left dress on the fashion illustration is the design I worked on.


In preparation, make sure you use a dress form in the right size and put some pads if needed.

First thing you want to make is the top part. The main reason I chose to drape this design is I needed to know how much gather it reqires on the bottom of the bust. It is much easier to see on the dress form rather than guessing on a paper.


Put some tape line to see what it is going to be like. Cut the extra fabric.

Now the top part is done, next thing you should do is to decide how wide the waist belt is going to be. Then you can work on the skirt.


Decide where you want tacks to be and how much. Try it on the fabric as many times as you want until you find the right place and depth.


Once you are done with the skirt, pin everything together clean and neat. See if the volume, balance are right. When you are happy with it, you can finally work on the sleeve.


With this design (cap sleeve), you might want to see how long it is going to be on the dress form although sleeves are usually drawn on papers. It is much easier to use flat pattern making for sleeves. I did it on a paper for this one as well.

After drawing the sleeve pattern on a paper, trace the pattern and put the sleeve on the dress. Check the balance.

Now everything is done! Mark everything you need and take the pins off. Trace the pattern on papers from the fabric.


Make a full toile from the pattern you traced.

There is more work to be done before you actually start sewing; making patterns for lining, decide how to trim and etc… but that’s all for pattern making.


The dress in the right fabric :) Next post might be about sewing the dress. See you next time.