I had free time in the evenings this week so I began the preparations for draping the upper front and back pieces of the dress I’m making as part of the 1930s Sew-Along with Norma
This is a picture filled posting behind the cut so read on if you’re interested in how I’m doing with the challenge of learning the 1930s draping system.
First Step: Analyze the style
The upper front and back are not quite like a column because there is a slight shaping at the underarm. There are two French darts at the bust line. My version will be sleeveless. The dress must hang straight like a cylinder below the bust. The flounce on my dress will be symmetrical since it will use less fabric to drape than an asymmetrical flounce.
A sleeveless bodice always differs from a bodice for set-in sleeves. It must be about 1/2″ in from the intersection of the shoulder and arm. The line drawn must also be slightly less curved. Since draping a set in sleeve is difficult for a beginner, I’m going to drape a kimono sleeve in two parts with the lower section slightly bell shaped.
The part about the draping system I’m using which I’m not sure of is the use of what is called an ease tuck which is positioned from 3-5 ” from the Center Front along the bust line marking on the drape. According to the instructions the horizontal dart near the underarm must stop 2″ from the apex point of the dart. The book then states that the examples given were created on a size 36. I don’t know what the measurements were for a size 36 in the 1930s but a gut feeling told me I had already encountered my first decision regarding this system. Since all bodies differ there is no telling how the results will be whether using a standard size or your own measurements. I decided to play around with the fabric after preparing the dress form.
Step 2: Marking the underarm, armhole, neckline and other style lines
I put a bra on the dress form to better visualize the depth of the neckline as well as where the underarm seam should end. Some draping videos show the teacher marking the armhole all around the plate. This is ok initially but the armhole must be lowered when trueing the finished drape. As a way to help me when I’m draping, I think about the depth of the armhole. Usually you want it to end above where your bra will be. You also want it low enough so it won’t bind the underarm area. For a bodice with sleeves it’s about 1″ below the screw plate. That can vary depending on whether you have sloping shoulders, square shoulders or a nice smooth shoulder line. There are even some people who have one shoulder higher than another. In which case there might be a need to make slight adjustments for each armhole depth. Since this dress is sleeveless I will compare the mark I just made with the drape after it is assembled.
After marking the style lines with pins style tape is applied near the line of pins to mark the lines. This helps also with marking the muslin or fabric. It takes time to determine the best neckline shape and other details so using style tape is another aid to see if the reality matches the vixualized line. I can’t find my roll of style tape so I used hem tape.
The upper armhole is marked to the screw plate level. The lower curve is marked when the drape is trued. This part I have used from experience and what I learned in school. The draping book I’m using does not include any details like this.
The end of the upper front and back bodice is marked, for now at point starting at the standard hipline about 7″ below the waist and ending about 9″ below the waist.