Precision Draping Basic Toile: Putting it together

The construction of the three parts of my fitting toile–fitted sleeve, bodice and straight skirt–is completed.  Now I have to hem the skirt and sleeve an then assemble the three pieces.

During this process of fitting myself I came up with an expedient solution to the old problem of not having someone available to pin the toile up the center back.  I thought, I’d just reverse the opening and pin from center front.  That is why you see the opening from neck to below the hip line in the photo below.

Today I tried on the bodice.  It fits comfortably.  My dress form has an additional one inch added to the measurements so that my fitting toile will not be tight.  The next skill to learn is adding style ease to each draped garment.

I am using the techniques described in the 1947 book Precision Draping by Nellie Weymouth Link.  I supplement what she doesn’t cover with what I learned from Draping for Fashion Design by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis.

Illustration of the basic straight skirt from Precision Draping by Nellie Weymouth Link.

I have pinned the skirt and sleeve onto the bodice to give you an idea of how it is coming together.  Can you see the differences from a modern fitting toile?  Here is a hint for a topic we will cover later on:  the skirt is not a pencil skirt.  It is a straight skirt with one dart each side of center front and one dart each side of center back.  In this toile I tried to use two darts at each side of the back but they are too small.  Initially I thought the back skirt dart was much too big but next practice I do I will follow the Precision Draping method instead of forcing a modern approach to the skirt darts.  One thing you will find if you use this method is that the skirt darts are very long, about 6-7″ or so.  It takes some time to get used to the sight of them.  In the end if the fit is just right that is what really matters.

So far I’m doing ok!

Basic fitting toile made using a majority of techniques from Precision Draping by Nellie Weymouth Link.  Trueing, marking and adding ease to bodice came from Draping for Fashion Design by Jaffe and Relis.  The sleeve was drafted using the French Fashion Academy system.

The front bodice looks a little loose.  That is because the sleeve has not been put in yet.  The bust dart apex has to be lowered a little but other than that I’m confident for the next phase once the toile is complete.

Dress form lines marked with glass head pins and lace tape.

When I no longer use pencil to mark the seam lines and style lines.  Instead I mark with straight pins.  To better discern where the apex and the key lines are I used a combination of lace seam tapes and glass head pins.  Once the muslin or tissue paper is used I can better feel where the lines are.

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Fitting toile in progress via a fusion of draping techniques

Update on development of my basic fitting toile through draping

Since publishing the last posting, I have practiced everyday using tissue paper on the dress form.  An attempt at creating a fitting toile from a tissue paper drape was not satisfactory.  The technique presented in Precision Draping by Nellie Weymouth Link has some good points and some areas that are weak.  I have learned this through repeated draping in tissue, pattern creation and one fitting toile in muslin.

Precision Draping does not require any marking for grain or guidelines since tissue paper is used for the medium.  This can be a drawback since there is no easy reference for knowing whether a dart or seam is correctly on grain.  Furthermore, the tissue paper is fragile and easily tears if handled too firmly.

The benefits to this system, though, offer an opportunity to get practice in eye and hand coordination, as well as real knowledge of how moving the tissue paper over the form creates darts, tucks, and seams.  I have also learned some of the original 1947 techniques that helped me realize that a 1940s Pencil Skirt was very different from a 1950s Pencil Skirt.  I will blog more about that in the future.

What I have done is combined the good parts of Precision Draping with the technique developed by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis in their book Draping for Fashion Design.

The breakthrough came this week when in just 1 1/2 hours I draped what is the best fitting toile so far.  This required thinking outside the box and accepting my body’s own needs.  These are:

*No need for a shoulder dart on the back bodice.
*No need for a second dart at the side or above the bust.  One dart below the bust is adequate.
*The skirt front only needs one small dart.
*Because of the shape of my backside and a hipline lower than the standard 7″ below the waist, the dart intake is over 2 1/2″.  I need two darts that are longer than average.  For a fitting toile and pencil skirt the back darts are usually 5 1/2″ and 4 3/4″.  Mine are almost 7″ each.

Because there is a surgical mesh in my abdomen to correct an incisional hernia, I have a little puff in that area that will never go away and must be de-emphasized.  In Precision Draping, author Nellie Weymouth Link encourages the student to learn to use the dress form lines in ways to enhance a positive feature and detract from an unflattering one.  For me it is important to  find ways to make a pencil skirt without those darts.

One solution will be creating a six panel skirt with the basic pencil skirt pattern.  In the photos below you see the fitting toile with the darts.  In the third and fourth photos lace seam tape was pinned along what will be the panel lines.  The darts will be absorbed into the cutting line for the panels.  This leaves only one dart at the back that I will have to deal with.  I’ve read that the dart intake can be divided in half and removed from each seam on the back panel.  When the time comes to try this I will share it here.

I have tried using the sleeve pattern from Nurie and Relis’ book but the cap ease was over 1 1/4″.  It proved very tricky to ease into the entire armhole as the book recommends.  I plan to draft a fitted sleeve using the French Fashion Academy method followed by the alteration I have used in the past since it provides good results.

Once the fitting toile is finished I will have a record of what my basic dart lengths are, the dart intake, the level of the bust apex and more.  The next series of lessons will concern how I add ease.  For this I will revisit the ease tuck from the 1930s draping technique I blogged about last year.  For that I plan to use tissue paper draping until I have it down right.

More to come…

Fitting toile in progress

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Front.  Notice the very short skirt dart in front.

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Back of the fitting toile.  When viewed from the side the back darts draw much attention to their length and the short dart on the skirt front.

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One way to create a slimmer look and remove the focus created by the dart lies in absorbing the dart into a style line.  In this case the pencil skirt will have 6 panels.

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The first dart will be absorbed into the panel line shown by the lace seam tape.  The remaining dart will have the intake divided in half.  Then 1/2 the intake will be take off each seam of the side panel.

 

Draping breakthrough…Photos and progress report to come soon

Hi everyone!  I have had an amazing development.  I wasn’t completely satisfied with the fit from the pattern shown in the previous posting.  I needed more muslin and had to wait for my order to arrive.

This got me to thinking of a vintage draping book written in 1947 that has occupied my bookshelf for several years.  I considered it more of a curiosity and reference book.  But two weeks ago, while waiting for the muslin to arrive, I began to seriously experiment with the technique presented in that book.  In “Precision Draping” by Nellie Weymouth Link, tissue paper instead of muslin is used for draping the first pattern.  During the WWII years cotton muslin was very hard to come by so many professional drapers and schools used tissue paper with good results.

I decided to give it a try.  I can get 10 sheets of tissue paper for 99 cents so I figured it would be fun to see if it worked.  Surprise, surprise!  I had to slow down and be very careful but I was able to create a genuine 1947 fitting toile from the entire process.

I am still having some issues with the skirt darts due to the changes the surgery made to my abdominal area but I am confident I now have a way to get around this.  I am working on a half-muslin toile right now.  When it’s finished I will put up the photographs.  If I can master this technique I will be saving money on muslin and working more authentically with a vintage system.

It will take a few more months of practice before I can make slopers based on my drapes but if all goes well I will be embarking on a completely new adventure.  The Precision Draping Technique uses a combination of draping, flat patternmaking and slopers.  I think this will be a good way to economize my time.

The only modern technique I have used is to draft the sleeve pattern from a modern draping book by Nurie Relis and Hilda Jaffee entitled “Draping for Fashion Design.”

Once the fitting toile is finished I will be able to confirm that I have correctly marked the apex, bust, chest, waist and hip levels on the form.  After this I need to revisit the ease tuck as a way to add needed style ease.  For this I will rely on the 1930s system I experimented with during the 1930s Sew-along with Norma last year.

I am very excited and optimistic about this development.  Photos and progress updates will soon be forthcoming on a regular basis now that summer is over.