The workshop title is: Fabric + Dressform: A non-prescriptive approach to draping.
|L-R Sarah Veblen, Monica Walker, Steph King (me), Liz Cohen and Wendy Grossman|
There were 4 attendees, 3 with customized dress forms to meet our body sizes and 1 with a generic sized dress form.
Sarah had a class outline that she followed to guide us through the 3 days and at the end of the workshop we had a focus group meeting on what we liked, didn't like and suggestions for changes. All of Sarah's workshops follow a similar approach and this one was no different.
Each morning we gathered together to talk about what will happen for the day, discuss expectations and thoughts and Sarah reviews the techniques and ideas that she expects us to achieve and learn during that day's exercises.
One of the most important lessons in this workshop is understanding grain. Lengthwise (warp), crosswise (weft) and bias grains are extremely important, as well as knowing how to grain up your fabric. For most of the workshop we worked with muslin fabrics. We started out with graining our muslin and then gridding it up. I must admit that at first I was thinking oh what a bore, drawing a grid on every piece of muslin. However, it really drove home the importance of knowing exactly where your grainline is and how you are using it in designing garments.
|Sarah discussing the importance of grainlines and gridding up your muslin for the draping process. On the right she demonstrates how to anchor straight of grain at center front and the process of draping the front bodice.|
Day 1: Morning group discussion and round table on the importance of grain lines and how to grid up our muslins.. Once our gridded muslins were ready we moved onto draping on a mound.The first exercise was draping darts on a bodice front on our own dressforms. The exercise entailed anchoring the center front on the lengthwise grain, smoothing the fabric all out and seeing where the excess fabric moved to and form a dart in that place. Followed by moving the fabric around and creating darts from any seam line to the apex. From shoulder, neckline, armscye, side seam, waist seam and center front and then move to any combination or multiples of these darts. I started the exercise with a side angled dart that I know works on me and then had fun just playing around. My morning ended up with a bodice front with several radiating darts.\\
At various times throughout the day Sarah would stop us and explain different ideas and methods. One that stuck with me was how to think about how you would incorporate the draped elements into an actual garment. Asking us to keep the darts, tucks, grain lines that we created in the same direction as if they were actually being sewn. I found it interesting that once I started to think about construction as well as design my fingers automatically wanted to manipulate the fabric in the correct way.
|Sarah observing Wendy and Liz as they work on their bodice fronts.|
Day 1: For the afternoon we continued to play on our own dressforms. I moved to draping a back bodice piece to go with my front bodice. I came up with a pleasing back bodice and Sarah gave me a critique that had me thinking about how to really drape it to take into account the front bodice. For example, thinking of the grainline that I had for the side seam on the front bodice and how to incorporate that into the back bodice. Thinking about if the grains were different how would that affect the seam and the drape when the pieces came together in construction. It was at this point that I had a wonderful aha moment. It was liked it all just clicked and I couldn't move my fingers and hands fast enough to get the new design draped on the dressform fast enough. I finished day one feeling exhausted, excited and with many ideas in my head.
|My final outcome of Day One. A bodice front with 4 inferior radiating darts and a bodice back with multiple waist fitting darts. The front and back grainlines match at the side seam for a pleasing look.|
|Wendy having an aha moment during one of our group discussions. Love when those happen and it can be shared in a group setting!|
|Sarah demonstrating the draping of a straight skirt on Gigi.|
|Draping of a straight skirt back on my dressform. Left is with a single dart that produces an ugly point and the right has the fullness split into three smaller darts for a very smooth silhouette over my tush.|
|In these photo's I was playing with incorporating the dart into different seam lines. I like the design on the left much more than the one on the right. However, both designs achieve a smooth silhouette.|
Day 2: Afternoon was spent playing with bias. We started with using the regular muslin and draped a skirt. Oh Dear.... I quickly learned why Sarah had us bring a drapey woven to use for bias exercises.
The difference in a skirt front draped in a traditional muslin fabric versus the rayon challis was quite significant. I found that I needed to work a bit harder on letting my creativity flow when we started working on the bias. I was not overly excited by the first couple of ideas that I draped. However, I was very interested to see how the fabric behaved on the bias and that by just changing how you pulled up on the fabric, for a skirt, you could change how the fullness was directed. This was a lot of fun to experiment with.
|The first bias exercise was using regular muslin that does not have much drape. You can see how it gives a very full silhouette that I do not particularly like on me.|
|Here I played with what I always thought of as 'draping', a very greek goddess type of skirt.|
Day 3: We started the morning off with a round table discussion on ideas that we each had and what we wanted to accomplish on the last day of the workshop. Sarah then assigned each of us a 'client' garment. I had to create a bodice and skirt for Liz and Monica had to make a bias bodice for me. I had to make sure that I had the proper amount of ease in the garment and that it would be something that my 'client' would enjoy wearing. I ended up designing a peplum type bodice with release tucks that managed the fullness at the waist without being too constricting or tight. Then I added a simple pegged pencil skirt and my client was thrilled! I hope she decides to make this into a flat pattern and mock it up.
Liz was my client for the first exercise of day three. I had to create a bodice front that she would like. After speaking with Liz I know she likes much more ease in her garments but doesn't necessarily want them baggy. I decided to make her bodice with double ended release pleats to control the fullness and give her shape. I then added on a skirt as well to complete the look. I found that I really enjoyed this process of designing for someone else with a very different body type than mine!
We had a special visitor on day 3! Princess Victoria joined us for lunch and she was very interested in what we were doing. So interested in fact that she joined in on the draping fun!
Day 3: Afternoon was spent playing with knits, more bias and inspiration photo's. This really was a time for experimentation and for us to ask Sarah questions and bounce ideas off of each other. I finished up the workshop with several draped muslins that are marked and ready to be transferred to flat pattern.
After the end of the workshop the five of us sat down and had a roundtable discussion about every detail of the workshop. What we liked, didn't like, what additional information would be good to have ahead of time, pre-requisites for the attendees, et cetera. Some of the feedback was directly from questions Sarah asked us around content, length of workshop, ratio of time spent working on dressforms vs discussion time as a group. My number one item for feedback was to make sure that she added to the workshop description that this class requires comfortable and supportive shoes. While working at the dressforms you are most often standing and this can cause some physical exhaustion.
I highly recommend this workshop to anyone that has a dressform or access to a dressform. Learning how to use my dressform to drape designs has added an invaluable tool to my toolbox of sewing, design and construction. to drape designs.
For a full list of Sarah Veblen's workshops be sure to check out her website SarahVeblen.com or click HERE for a direct link to her hands-on classes.
There are many ideas that I have sketched out and many designs that live in my imagination and I now have a means to play with those ideas without having to first go to flat pattern. I can quickly drape in an idea that I am thinking of and see how it will work. An excellent tool that I am looking forward to implementing.