Sometimes you need a formal outfit.

I decided to make a simple dress, under the knee, with some details in the bottom.


I would have prefered a blind zipper because that is more neat, but my sewing machine isn't able to do that.. I should buy an industrial machine in the future..

The fabrics are a polyester and a thin cotton for the interlining. The blue fabric is quite thick so the dress is pretty warm to wear. I am thinking about making a bathing suit of the leftover pieces.


If you're going to drape your piece instead of pattern cutting you have to consider a few things. If you want to have your clothes with a standard fit like the clothes in a shop, you can buy a mannequin which is in a standardised size. But you could also buy a mannequin which is adjustable so you can change it into your own measurements. The disadvantage of those mannequins is that you can't pin in them, which I personally love to do. Also putting on tape is a lot more difficult because of all the holes in them.

Luckily I've found a mannequin which has almost the same measurements as me. If you decide to buy a mannequin which isn't precisely your own size, try to find one which is slightly smaller because you can always give them more volume with wadding, shoulder pads and push-up bra stuffing.

I started with designing the stylelines. I'm using stickable tape (bought in Morplan in London), but you can also use thin twill tape which you can buy in every haberdashery.

The dress I'm designing will be symmetric, which means I could drape the pattern just on one side of the mannequin and then when I have made the patterns, double them or cut every piece twice.

Because I don't want darts in my dress, I have to make at least 4 pattern parts. One of the stylelines has to pass the bust point because otherwise there have to be darts in it to make it fit.


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Start the draping with a square piece of mouseline which you pin on the center front of the mannequin. The fabric should be cut straight and be bigger than the piece you're going to drape. First start pressing it over the bustline, pin it, and then continue with the rest of the piece.

Press the fabric with your hand in the right direction. If it can't make the movement you want, because the fabric pulls, cut the fabric in till you meet the stylelines, but never pass them! In this case I had to cut in the waistline and the neckline. See also the picture below.


Because writing the whole word is way too much work:

  • CF = center front
  • CB = center back
  • SS = side seam
  • WL = waist line
  • HL = hip line
  • LHL = lower hip line
  • BL = bust line
  • NL = neck line
  • AH = arm hole
  • SH = shoulder
  • BP = bust point

With a tracing wheel I'm tracing all the lines I've drawn on the mouseline. While drawing the traced line in with pencil you can change the traced path a bit to make it a smooth line. Make sure the parts that are going to be folded (in this case the CF) are straight.

I want to give the shoulders a bit more strength so I decided to put in shoulderpads. To give the fabric room for the shoulderpads I have to add some space into the pattern parts. First I've reconnected pattern parts 1 & 2, then I cut in the pattern (till the NL), and then tilt the pattern untill you have 1 cm extra volume on the arm hole (AH). Add some paper underneath and cut it out again.


Because I've only draped the pattern on one side on the mannequin, every pattern piece has to be cut twice, except number 1 and 8. Those have to be on the fold of the fabric, which you see in the illustration.


The innerside of the dress will look like this. I gave pattern 1, 2, 3 & 4 a fly, because I don't want people to see the interlining when I wear the dress. If I had used the same blue fabric for the interlining, I did not have to do this.

On the bottom you see a bit of the front dress folding to the back side. I just gave the patterns on the front some extra space (5 cm) so when you sew them together the fabric would fold to the other side. Note: the end of the pattern parts of the front have to be exactly straight, otherwise I should have made a loose pattern for the interlining fabric as well.

For the finishing, I just made a tiny seam in the pattern parts which gives the idea of loose parts. I overstitched them to make them more neat.

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