First draping project underway-Late 1940s skirt and blouse

Introduction

Draping Technique used is from 1947 book,  Precision Draping by Nellie Weymouth Link

I have finally resolved the issues with the skirt darts.  The best fit is achieved by angling the darts towards the side seam.  This means that they are slightly off grain.  I was surprised that this solution worked but the fit over my abdomen is very smooth.  The dart length is also shorter than if they are positioned on the straight of grain.

I found it impossible to work with one large dart for the back of the skirt.  When the dart intake is greater than 3/4 of an inch the dart has a very sharp point and does not look flattering over the part of the body is rests on.  For those skirts in Precision Draping that must have only one dart in the back, such as when making flares, I will think of a workaround when the time comes.  Right now I have selected a very simple style I can use my new skills on.

I want to thank Norma of She Sews You Know and Naomi of Spare Room Style for all their encouragement during this long process.  Your encouragement has continually motivated me.

Style Chosen:  Late 1940s straight skirt and short kimono sleeve blouse

 

This skirt is a late 1940s, post-New Look style.  You can tell because the hemline has dropped from the knee length skirts of the WWII era to the mid-calf length that was to dominate after 1947 due to Dior’s New Look.  The Pencil Skirt as we know it today, with its straight tapered line below the hips and it’s noticeable curve along the hipline, would not be developed until the mid-1950s.  The 1940s straight skirt had more walking ease thanks to a slight flare at the hemline. The side seam lacks the more pronounced curve of the Pencil Skirt and is therefore kinder to many figure types.

While this isn’t an exciting skirt and blouse it is a good starting point to apply many of the principles from Precision Draping.  I want to use them as much as possible to achieve a fit and style as close to the late 1940s as possible.

My first drape of the blouse and skirt

I do not like how form fitting the blouse on the pattern illustration is.  Since I am smaller on the top I need a more blousy effect to balance out the fullness of my abdomen and hips.  The collar on this blouse attracts the eye upwards.  A belt made with the same fabric as the skirt will reduce the size of my waistline in relation to the upper torso.

To control the fullness in the blouse I will use a hip yoke to sew the bodice into.  The yoke gets tucked into the skirt and keeps the blouse neatly in place.

The bodice of the blouse was draped using the standard bodice with armhole.  That drape in turn was transferred to paper and a short kimono sleeve drafted onto it.  Precision Draping combines draping and flat patternmaking.  This is not as difficult as it sounds.  Anyone with knowledge of making pattern alterations will have the skills to take the next step if they stick to a simple style.

Kimono sleeves can use a lot of fabric when draped.  Using this technique by drafting them onto the draped bodice saves on muslin.

Photo of the drape of the blouse and hip yoke pinned onto the form.

Front of straight skirt pinned in place over the blouse.  This kind of checking is very important to determine if more ease is needed.  That adjustment can be made when transferring the drape to a paper pattern.

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Draping Update: Almost there!

Update on draping my basic toile

I continue to make progress using the Precision Draping technique from the book of the same name by Nellie Weymouth Link which was published in 1947.  This toile fits comfortably.  The remaining issue is with the back skirt darts.  They are still too long.  I think I know how to resolve this and will continue to work on this in the days ahead.  The apex also has to be lowered and the elbow dart on the sleeve shortened.

Once I resolve the issue with the back skirt darts I will move on to practice with adding style ease.  I think by the New Year I will be ready to start draping basic skirts, blouses and chemise dresses for myself.

I don’t notice too much difference between this system from 1947 and the modern one I’m more familiar with except for the skirt.  It is not as form fitting as a pencil skirt.  Also for a basic fitting shell there is more ease and movement.  It is not like the second skin a modern toile is.

Progress Photos – 10-11-17

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.

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.

Flat Pattern from Draped Fitting Toile

Update on draped fitting toile

As things would go I no longer have muslin with which to sew up the fitting toile.  I thought it would be good to share photos of the flat paper pattern created from the draped toile.  I have two orders for muslin coming in so I should be able to start after Labor Day.

I am amazed how much the resulting pattern reflects my imperfections.  Which is a good thing, because it means the results will be accurate.  I think you can see the little upward curve my abdomen takes on the front skirt.  This is where the surgical packing was placed to repair an incisional hernia.

I always find it so interesting to see how an individual’s resulting pattern or drape varies from the examples given in a book.  For example, I have sloping shoulders which results in a need to lower the armhole so I can move my arms freely.  A standard set in sleeve is usually a bit too high up under the arm to be comfortable when you have sloping shoulders.

Here are the photos for your review.  Please feel free to ask me about the process of transferring the muslin to the paper pattern.  Since I’m such a geek who loves every part of this process I’m happy to provide additional information.

Photos of the paper pattern

 

This figure comes from the book by Nurie Relis and Hilda Jaffe that I am using for creating a draped basic toile.

The front of my basic skirt only has one dart instead of two.  I noticed with this system there isn’t such a curvy fit over the hip.  This might work out better for me since there is a 1940s skirt I’d like to make that doesn’t have any darts in the front.  It is not quite a pencil skirt but is definitely not flared or A-line.  It is a style I’d definitely like to try.  I think a skirt like that would be good for weekends and busy days.

The back of my toile has two darts as in the example given.  I am looking forward to seeing how this fits and looks.

Notice how the shoulder dart is very small and the amount by which I had to lower the armhole.  There was an additional 1/2″ needed.  When I followed the standard instructions it was too tight.  Still I think a full toile is needed because a 1/2 toile is only good for spot checking a few details.

That small dart from the shoulder surprised me.  I thought it would have at least 1/2 to 3/4″ intake.  As it is I find it annoying to work with but since this is the basic I will go with the instructions.  When I actually start sewing, that little dart will be transferred into the vertical bust dart below or worked into other darts, tucks, or details.

I haven’t made the fitted sleeve with elbow dart yet since this is new territory for me.  I think the unfitted sleeve is a better start.  I need to see how this cap turns out when sewn into the armhole.  1 1/4″ of ease is quite a bit.  Even the shape of the cap is different from the one that resulted when I used the French Fashion Academy system to draft flat patterns.

 

 

Update on my fitting toile: Going with draping all the way

Update

I am working my way through many fitting issues now that I have a custom made dress form.  The French Fashion Academy drafting system is not working out for me as it did in the past.  I have decided to try draping instead.  I think I am making progress with creating a basic toile.  I am using the updated edition of  “Draping for Fashion Design” by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis as my guide.    I provided a brief review of this book in 2013 but will post about the updated version once the toile is fitted and finalized.

The difficulty I was having with the French Fashion Academy method is that the intricate series of steps and measurements needed so many tweakings to accommodate the changes surgery made to my body.  As in altering a commercial pattern, all it takes is one adjustment in an area to set off a series of adjustments needed to other pattern pieces.

Even the draped toile has been a challenge.  At least the results look flattering and for this reason I shall persevere.  The fit of this toile will be more relaxed since this is a system created in America where our concepts of fit are different.

The major challenges lie in positioning the darts.  For the basic I follow the instructions in Jaffe and Relis’ updated book.  The bodice front and back vertical darts are positioned at the princess lines.  The first darts near center back of front and back skirts are also positioned near the princess lines.  This may be technically correct but visually I think they look too close and unflattering.  After resolving all fitting matters I will try moving the first skirt darts and the vertical bust dart slightly to the left of the princess seam.  I think 3/8 to 1/2″ will be sufficient.  Or else right in the middle of the waistline of each piece.

The sleeve you see here is a combination of drafting and a little bit of draping that involves smoothing and easing the cap into place.  This is the unfitted sleeve.  I want to focus on the ease first.  Once that is worked out I will try a fitted sleeve with elbow dart.  Following this system I have 1 1/4″ of ease in the cap.  That is a lot.  But the instructions are to ease stitch the entire cap and work out shrinking the ease after the cap is fitted to the armhole.  This means removing the sleeve after all that pinning and easing to steam out the excess ease.  I have to see how this will work.

Stay tuned.  Slow but steady progress is underway…

Photos of the toile so far along with how the paper pattern will look after the drape is copied to pattern paper

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