Source: Textile Review

Garment drape has received major attention of designers from the beginning. They have exploited this property of fabric in creating new styles according to changing fashion trends. Garment either hangs down from the shoulder or from the waist and drapes over the hip forming waves or folds at hemline. Quality of folds viz. number, shape and size of folds in a garment depends upon several factors.


One of the most important properties of fabric is its ability to fall under its own weight into wavy folds. This unique property enables one to mold the fabric to needed shape or let it fall on its own & produce free flowing form. Study of historic costumes reveals that importance of drape was known to man from the beginning. Drape provides graceful aesthetic effects in garment. It relieves monotony of shape and enhances beauty of garment that is why it has been used as a device of special adornment in costumes. This article reviews different methods which are used in creating drape effects in garment.


Garment drape has received major attention of designers from the beginning. They have exploited this property of fabric in creating new styles according to changing fashion trends. Garment either hangs down from the shoulder or from the waist and drapes over the hip forming waves or folds at hemline. Quality of folds viz. number, shape and size of folds in a garment depends upon several factors.


Natural Drape


Drape in a garment depends upon the draping quality of material used in its construction. Fabric is the most important consideration in designing. Whether the fabric is soft or crisp, light or airy, thick or thin, stiff or limp will influence drape of garment. Same design will look different in different materials because their draping quality varies. Soft and light weight material gives the rippled, flowing and flared effect whereas thick and heavy fabric gives solid or firm line effect at fold. Hand and weight are textural qualities which determine drape in a fabric.


Before the invention of sewing machine and stitch craft, garments were only draped over the body. The Indian sari is one of the finest examples of draped garment. How the sari will drape around the body depends upon the draping quality of material whether it is cotton, silk, nylon, georgette, chiffon etc.


Induced drape


Induced drape depends upon factor of stitch craft. Different techniques are used to add flare and fullness so as to create different drape effects:

  1. Drape effects in a garment can be obtained by use of pleats, gathers and tucks in the already existing pattern of garment.
    • Various types of pleats such as side pleats, box pleat, and inverted box pleat can be used. By varying their number, placement and stitching different effects can be obtained. For example box pleat / inverted box pleat can be partly stitched or unstitched, placement can be allover the garment (fig 2) or isolated such as at the center or at one side or both sides of the center.

    • Gathers in a skirt can be placed allover the skirt; can vary in amount viz. 50%, 60% or 100% of total waistline. Gathers can be placed in isolation like at one side of center, both sides of center or at center; can be placed at waistline (fig 3) or below waistline with hip yoke. Gathers can be controlled by elastic tape inside waistband or without elastic tape (by only waist band).
  1. Another type of drape can be obtained by seam flare. Extra width is added to sweep of garment. sweep will depend upon intensity of arc or seam angle and also on length of garment. Unlike pleats or gathers which add depth at both the top and at the bottom, the flare starts at seam line increasing in width as it moves towards the hemline. Circular skirts are based on seam flare which can start either from waist or hip line (with yoke). Total weight of fabric that drapes varies in each skirt (fig.4&5).


Garment can be divided into vertical sections 4, 6, 8 or 10. Alternate panels of two or more different fabrics with varying draping quality can be used. Panels alternating on different grains lengthwise, crosswise or bias will change drape of garment. Flare in a garment can be added by using gadgets (fig.6). Godet's angle, length and Position will affect flare and thus drape in a garment.

  1. Another technique to achieve drape is by use of lining materials of varying hand, which can be called guided or supported drape. Similarly slip/petticoat worn beneath the dress may affect drape of a garment. Wide belt at waist worn with loose fitting dress is another example of guided drape.


Drape in a garment is affected by grain line and cut of the fabric

A garment is usually cut with center front and back on the straight grain. The shape of garment holds better on the straight grain. Pleats remain pressed 10nger.Gathers, folds fall more softly on the straight grain.


If cross grain cut is used, gathers, folds and flares open out. The bias grain being softest of all is also used to give weight to loose folds, pleats and drape.


Finishing agents may be used to alter drape in a garment. Finishing agent such as starch or resin changes stiffness or softness of fabric which in turn changes draping quality of fabric. Application of resin finish at specific location in skirt type garment changes the look of garment due to change in flare and number, shape and size of folds.


Thus there are numerous possibilities in designing to Influence drape of a garment i.e. by natural drape, by Induced drape or by combination of natural and induced drape affecting ultimate appearance of garment.


References

  • Joseph and Armstrong. Pattern making for fashion designing, 4th ed. Pearson Prentice Hall:. New Jersey, 2006.
  • Patel Neeta. A study of the drape characteristics of textiles and their influence in clothing styles. Doctoral Thesis, MS University of Vadodara, 1996
  • Aldrich Winifred. Fabric, form and flat pattern cutting, Blackwell Science Ltd., London 1996.
     

The Author is a professor, Faculty of Home Science, Banasthali University


Originally published in Textile Review: June 2010