Draping at New York Fashion Academy (continued)

Tuesday is fast becoming my favorite day of the week. Not only is is not-Monday, but it is draping day! The skills I am learning are basic but they open new creative doors every week.

Draping Week 2 – Yoke and Gathers

I am that student that always shows up early to class. But last week I was the only person for like 20 minutes. I work the closest to the school, so my commute is easy. During that time I finished up my back bodice sloper.

This is how we mark the points of the darts. The holes made by the push pin along the seam line, unfold and reveal the angle of the dart. I love this trick.

After I finished this, the next draping lesson was all about yokes and gathers. My instructor handed me a piece of ribbon and showed me some examples of yoke shapes, emphasizing that it had to connect to Center Front and the armhole. Beyond those two criteria, our yokes could be any shape.

She walked away and I stared at my dress form, realizing I was completely unprepared to be creative. Week one had been a “repeat after me” type of lesson. Now, we could add our individuality to the draped garments. I kicked myself for not having some garment ideas already bouncing around me head. I wanted to make something that could be useful to me at a future time.

As you can see, I opted for a pretty simple and straight yoke. It would be the tucks that I would feel more as ease with.

After pinning the CF lower half of the shirt, we were instructed to move in a counter clockwise direction. First pin the waist, then the side seam. All the while, moving the excess fabric up to the shoulder/bust. There would be no darts here. All of that excess fabric was to be tucked, pleated, or gathered.

I really like tiny tucks. I’m not sure how this would look as a shirt or dress, but as a small-busted gal this kind of gathering adds volume to the chest. You might notice the pencil marks, it is to help us line up the edges of the tucks (or pleats or darts).


The little arrows are to tell the seamstress which direction to fold the tucks. While I’m not a huge fan of yokes, I can work with these details in the future.

Draping Week 3 – Princess Seams

Having finished my yoke and gathers garment last week, I was able to immediately jump into week 3’s princess seam project. Once again, I was blindsided by the opportunity to be creative. I expected it to be a simple (and boring) drape along the dress form princess seam lines. Nope.

Like with the yoke, my instructor said a princess seam could start at the armhole or the shoulder or the neck or the CF. It could end at the CF, side seam, or waist. It just has to cross through the bust point.

So, here’s the thing. I have this unhealthy desire to be the best…or do my best. I don’t like settling for mediocrity. Again I was annoyed with myself for not thinking of a cool design – something fashion forward or at least complex.

I played around the with the twill tape and ultimately took some [imagined] inspiration from Danerys from Game of Thrones. I love her dresses, which definitely use the form fitted shaping of princess seams. I plan to add a skirt to this and make a dress worth of a dragon queen. 

At the very end of class, I started on the next garment type, a skirt sloper.


Week 4 – Skirts

I finished up my skirt sloper in the first hour of class today. The photo below shows a nearly-complete flat pattern that was traced from the muslin. Every week the process goes faster.

I did learn that when you don’t mark your CF, CB, and side seams while the muslin is still on the form, the skirt pattern pieces can be difficult to distinguish. At least more so than a bodice pattern.

Seattle weather had been all over the board today. We were treated to a double rainbow just before the sun went down. I really do love the lighter evenings these days. The extended daylight, the delicious coffee, and doing something I love combined to make me really happy.

Draping I ended with a 4-gore skirt. In this garment, the darts are moved to the hem and the grainline is aligned with the curviest part of the hip area. You may be able to see the folded crease demarcating my grainline between the two drapes.

Draping II starts next week. We will be draping a 6-gore skirt, sewing it up out of fashion fabric, and then learn to drape collars.

I am really glad I signed up for this class. There are 4 of us in the class and we all get personal instruction. I love the feeling of smoothing fabric over the dress form. I can’t wait to play with more complicated garment styles. I actually thought about signing up for Draping III, but I think I’ll wait until the end of Draping II to decide (and check my budget status).

Random, sleepy musings

I am amused that what keeps tripping me up in this class is the brief moments of open-ended creativity. And psychologically, I think this might be revealing. I am very good at following step-by-step instructions. It is why I am good at LEGOs, and why I did well in school. When my instructor gives me that room to be original, I feel put on the spot and a little lost for direction. It is clear that I was relying on her for that direction, and I was prepared to dutifully complete the steps and then move onto the next set of tasks. It is like I forgot about the design part of this craft. Maybe I’ve been doing too many pre-made patterns and too much cosplay where I am simply mimicking someone else’s character design. I can do the steps that lead to the construction of a garment that someone else has designed…but that original design element is missing from my process. I’m not saying that I have to create original designs to be a good seamstress, but I do want to stretch those creative muscles.


8 thoughts on “Draping at New York Fashion Academy (continued)

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. It really makes me want to take the draping class even more. I lived really close to NYFA for 12 years and now that I’m way down in Renton I’ll end up finally signing up for classes. lol.

    And I love your princess seam shape. I’d be very interested to see a finished garment you make from that.

  2. I look forward to seeing that dragon dress. As for your creative brain freeze moments, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you skew toward being an introvert at all, it might just be your process.

  3. Sometimes it helps to have a solid set of rules to create from. A totally blank canvas disturbs me. A rule I can break makes my heart sing.

    Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt developed a set of cards for artists called Oblique Strategies, “Each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking”. My spouse and I have a set, acquired a jillion years ago. Better than that, there’s a random generator for them online (stoney.sb – works great); the one I just got was “Humanize something free of error”. You can hit refresh to get another and another until you get the one that piques your interest. “Think of the radio”. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s just silly.
    As ever, appreciate your sharing your process, warts and all.

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