Third time’s the charm: Drape Drape 2 no 6 Pattern drape dress

Drape drape 2 no 6

The Drape Drape pattern books are very hit or miss for me. The things I’ve made from them either get worn to death or else never leave the wardrobe. This dress is an adaptation of style number 6 from Drape Drape 2. It’s my third try at this particular pattern and I think this one is going in the firm favourites category. The first two versions, eh, not so much.

The sample in the book is sleeveless, very short, and made in a striped knit. My first version followed it exactly, even down to the striped fabric, and can be seen here. I like the photos we took of it but I never wore it. Too short and too fussy.

Version 2 came about last year when I was very pregnant and trying to make clothes suitable for after the birth. The deep cowl neckline looked perfect for breastfeeding; all I needed to do was lengthen the skirt and add sleeves and pockets. The pockets were easy to do: put a horizontal seam across the skirt front and stick inseam pockets in there.  The sleeves were a bit harder because the original has very cut in armscyes and the shoulder seam is set backwards, so they required some adjusting. I dug out my copy of McCalls 2401, a simple closefitting dress with long sleeves, laid it over the Drape Drape pattern, and traced off a combination which had the McCalls armscye and shoulder seam but everything else from Drape Drape.

I sewed version 2 up in a peacock blue polyester doubleknit I’d had lying around in the stash for years. It took an amazing three metres of wide fabric what with the sleeves and the cowl.

The end result wasn’t good. I’d somehow managed to put the pocket seam far too low in the skirt and make the skirt too long as well. I’d also forgotten that the McCall’s pattern was originally designed for woven fabrics, so the shoulders and sleeve came out huge when made in a knit. I was short on time, so I made it wearable by inserting a casing and elastic at the original hip level and using that to hitch the skirt up so the pockets were at a reasonable height. It got me through the first few months but I wasn’t happy with it (and no photos, sorry!)

Convinced there was a great dress in there somewhere I had another go. This time I used Winifred Aldrich’s closefitting knit block for the shoulders, armscyes and sleeves. I moved the pockets up and shortened the skirt. Another length of polyester doubleknit came out of deep stash; a dark grey found on Derby market many years ago. And this time it came out as I’d imagined it.

Drape drape 2 no 6

The only thing I’m not so keen on is the back view, which is very plain.

Drape drape 2 no 6
But the cowl hangs nicely in this knit and it’s very warm to wear.

Drape drape 2 no 6

Can’t see me making another one of these. It’s a fabric hog and also very distinctive; who needs two? But I love the one I’ve got.
Drape drape 2 no 6

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In two minds: Drape Drape 2 No 11 one piece dress

Drape drape 2 no 11 bodice closeup

This dress is from the Drape Drape books by Hisako Sato: specifically Drape Drape 2 style number 11. It’s an unusual pattern even by Drape Drape standards: there is only one pattern piece for the whole dress and it’s absolutely gigantic. The logistics of cutting out such a style at home would normally put me right off, but I was looking out for an interesting breastfeeding-friendly pattern that I could make quickly from stash fabric, and this ticked all the boxes. The neckline falls well below the bra band: I’m planning to wear it with a tank top underneath.

It takes nearly two metres of extra wide (165cm) fabric. You also need to cut a rectangular strip of self-fabric to make a casing for the waist elastic and provide a couple of cuff pieces to finish off the sleeves. I have the Japanese language edition of the book and I know no Japanese so I can’t tell what the recommended fabrics for the style are. Going by the pictures the body is done in a very drapey knit; I’d guess a single knit; and the cuffs are some sort of sequinned stretch fabric. I used an extra wide lightweight viscose single knit from Tissu Fabrics that had been lying around in my stash for a couple of years. Amazingly it’s still available for sale here at the time of writing. The cuffs are a doubled piece of the body fabric.

The only place in the house where I could easily make room to spread enough fabric out was the conservatory, which has a tiled floor. Hard on the knees, although it was nice to have lots of light while cutting. I had to pin the pattern piece to the fabric before cutting. Normally I use weights not pins, but I didn’t have enough weights to hold the shifty fabric in place so it was pins or nothing. This wasn’t ideal as they left a few holes in the rather fragile fabric. Transferring the markings was a challenge too. I cut out right side up but needed to mark the waistline casing on the wrong side. I was a bit dubious about using dressmaker’s carbon paper over the hard tiles so I pinned along the casing lines as well as around the pattern edges and then after I’d cut around the edges I flipped the lot over and chalked along the pins marking the casing. I guess tailor tacks would have been a better option but I didn’t have sufficient patience for that!

Sewing was far easier than cutting out. You could easily sew this up in an evening although I did take a couple of shortcuts: it’s not hemmed yet and I skipped making the openings in the overarm seams because in my opinion that feature really reduces wearability.

And here it is. Dressform shots only because my baby has not yet arrived and the waist is not compatible with a bump.

Drape Drape 2 no 11 front
Drape drape 2 no 11 back

It hasn’t come out how I expected. The first peculiar thing is that my version hangs completely differently than the one in the book. In the book version the skirt hangs evenly whereas mine’s really pulling to one side. My fabric has only one-way mechanical stretch which might explain this. Two-way stretch fabric with some lycra would probably have worked better.

The second odd thing is the sleeves. Now admittedly this is probably made worse by choosing insufficiently stretchy fabric, but the left sleeve is incredibly tight; I can’t raise my left arm above shoulder height. The first picture is the left sleeve and the second is the right. Hopefully you can see from the pics that the left sleeve is skinny and grows out of the waistline whereas the right sleeve is wider and starts higher up. It’s hard to say how much of a problem this is right now because it’ll fit me differently once the baby is here, but the sleeve lacks mobility even on the dressform so I’m not optimistic.

Left:

Drape Drape 2 no 11 left sleeve

Right:

Drape Drape 2 no 11 right sleeve

So as yet I don’t know if this is going to be a wearable dress or not. It was fun to make and I’m glad I finally found something to do with the fabric, but I may have to file this in the ‘failed experiments’ pile. Drape Drape often works out like that for me. I have made up a few different ones and they either become huge favourites or never get worn at all. Oddly enough, I’ve even had one pattern turn out both ways when made up in different fabrics. I’ll try to come back with a wearability update on this one at some point.

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Drape Drape Three Piece Deep Cowl Neck Dress

Drape Drape 2 No 6 front view

This is yet another make from the Drape Drape books. This one’s number six from book two, the so-called three-piece deep cowl neck dress. Every version of this I’ve seen made up has been done in stripes to show off the grain changes, and since I found this unusual grey and brown striped knit mine was not going to be the exception.

I thought I’d got my sizing sussed with Drape Drape, but this make has come up too small for me. You can see the tell-tale creases across my stomach in all the pictures. I normally make one size smaller than the size chart indicates, but this time I should have used my true size. My fabric only has cross-grain stretch so I might have got away with it in a two-way stretch fabric. However if I ever make this again I’ll trace it again in the next size up; the pattern pieces are very unusual and I can’t quite see how to adjust the front piece to get extra width without producing a knock-on effect on the cowl.

It’s also astonishingly short. I added two inches to the skirt length before cutting out and haven’t hemmed it.

Drape Drape 2 No 6 side front view

When photographed directly from the front it looks pretty close to the version in the book. When viewed more from the side, as above, there’s a slightly pointy bit where the cowl attaches that I wasn’t expecting. However I’ve seen this in a few other people’s versions around the web so I guess it’s meant to be like that.

This is a slightly tricky pattern to sew. The diagrams are excellent, but the way the cowl is attached is sufficiently unusual that it took me a bit of head-scratching before I worked out which edges to sew to which. Around the back of the neck you sew the wrong side of the cowl to the right side of the dress, which had me confused for a bit, but the cowl part folds in such a way you don’t see the wrong side of it in the finished dress. It helps when attaching the cowl to have a fabric where you can tell the right side from the wrong side in the first place. It would have been even more confusing in a solid.

Drape Drape 2 No 6 back view

The back view is about as plain as you can get. The unhemmed edge is curling up pretty badly in the picture above. The fabric is a single knit so it’s not really a surprise. I don’t want to lose any length by hemming this though, so it’s just going to have to stay like that.

The photos above are how I’ll actually wear the dress, although with boots rather than wedges. However I did have a go with it as styled in the books, below. I won’t be trying this outside the house, even with the help of tape. It might make a nice photo when properly arranged but the cowl doesn’t stay put.

Drape Drape 2 No 6 indoors

So not my most successful Drape Drape make. It will probably get some wear when the weather gets colder.

Short and red: Drape Drape 2 tuck drape dress again

Drape drape 2 no 7

I’ve been on a bit of a Drape Drape streak lately. After all, if you’re going to rearrange all the furniture in the living room in order to trace and cut the enormous pattern pieces from one of these designs you might as well do another while you’re at it. This is one I’ve made before: the No. 7 Tuck Drape dress from Drape Drape 2. My previous version has been worn a lot but didn’t look much like the version in the book. That was in part because I lengthened it. Here’s the first version.

Drape Drape 2 No. 7

For this version I removed the length I’d added to the skirt but left the extra in the bodice. I also included the splits in the sleeves which I’d sewed shut on the original. The neckline is sagging a bit on this picture because I pulled the shoulders up just before the photo was taken. It prefers to slide off one or the other shoulder in both versions.

Drape drape 2 no 7

The fabric is a 100% cotton interlock knit from Tissu Fabrics. It’s medium weight and not particularly stretchy but very soft. Right now it’s available here. They have this fabric in a huge range of colours. This colourway is called maroon although it’s not what I think of as maroon, which would be more purple.

The fabric is very wide, which is needed for this pattern as originally designed. However when I first made this pattern I split the main piece into three to allow me to use narrow fabric, and this time I cut it the same way again because I find smaller pattern pieces easier to handle. It makes no difference to the end result because the extra seams get hidden in the draping.

Drape drape 2 no 7

I think I folded the tucks correctly this time. Everything matched up beautifully which it hadn’t on the previous one. I can’t blame the book because the diagrams are really clear. I have this one in the Japanese language edition and it’s perfectly usable for someone with no knowledge of the language. It would be nice to be able to read the fabric recommendations for each style but so far I’m managing without.

Drape drape 2 no 7

I have worn this quite a bit since I made it. I’m hoping that once the warm weather stops it will still work with a grey long-sleeved t-shirt and leggings underneath.

And changing the subject completely…after over four years of writing this blog I finally got around to getting a domain name for it. Its official home is now http://blog.cyberdaze.org but http://cyberdaze.wordpress.org will redirect to the right place for the forseeable.

Drape drape 2 no 7

Spot the difference: Drape Drape 17 again

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I said last week that my brown version of Drape Drape 17 was intended as a trial run, although I’ve worn it a lot. This is the real thing. The fabric is a very drapey lightweight interlock knit that I’ve had in my stash for a while. It is much more like the recommended weight for this style than the heavier brown fabric was.

Drape Drape No 17 front brown dk

This time I took extra care with the hems. They tend to flip outwards on the brown dress and I think that’s because they stretched out when I sewed them. For the yellow dress I interfaced the hems with some lightweight fusible knit and sewed them with a twin needle. They still flip out a little but not too badly. You can just about see it on the back view below.

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I’d been saving this fabric for something special and luckily I had bought three metres of it, because the dress needs a lot of fabric to make all those drapes. Every time I move all the layers rearrange themselves, but despite that it’s very easy to wear.

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The underlying silhouette of the style is pretty shapeless and there’s no waist to speak of, which makes it very comfortable on hot days.

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Two is enough for this pattern but I have some different Drape Drape makes coming up soon!

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And now for something completely different: Drape Drape no. 17

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments about Vogue 1335. That project took months to complete. This next one, not so much.

Drape Drape No 17 front brown dk

This is pattern number 17 from the first Drape Drape book. I have the English edition which calls this one the Goddess Drape dress. It’s definitely got that Grecian drapery look about it. It’s an easy sew. Two main pattern pieces, front and back, and bindings for the armscyes. You finish the hems and the neckline, fold and tack all the tucks in the main pieces, and then after that it’s like making a large tank top. Once the pattern is traced the dress can be cut and made up in an afternoon.

Drape Drape No 17 back full length brown dk

My previous attempt at a Drape Drape pattern came out much larger and longer than I expected, so I went down a size for this one and didn’t add any length. I normally lengthen everything I make. I think the size and length turned out about right on this one. I made the medium size. I usually make a size 10 in Vogue, a 36 or 38 in Burda, and I’m five foot ten.

Drape Drape No 17 front full length brown dk

The recommended fabric for this style is ‘matt jersey (plain knit)’. My fabric is a viscose doubleknit from Minerva Crafts. It was described a a crepe jersey, and one side does have a slightly crinkled texture. However I’ve used the smoother side of the fabric as the right side here. It’s obviously a much heavier fabric than the pattern was originally designed for. I only used it because this version was intended to be a trial run to check the sizing. However I think it works, probably because it is unusually drapey for a doubleknit.

I couldn’t do the recommended finish on the armscyes because my fabric was too thick. Instead I sewed a binding strip right sides together with the armscye, turned it over the armscye seam allowance, and stitched it down by stitching in the ditch from the outside. This means the binding has a raw edge on the inside but the jersey does not fray so it doesn’t matter. This finish also makes the armscyes slightly smaller. With the finish in the book you’d lose the seam allowance at the armscye. The armscyes are generous even with the seam allowances intact so again it’s not a problem.

Drape drape no 17 armscye finish

One minor irritation with this dress is that the hem edge tends to flip outwards. The hem allowance is only one centimetre (3/8th inch) and it’s finished by overlocking the raw edge and then turning and stitching it down with a straight stitch. I think the fabric stretched out when I stitched it. The straight stitch also means the hem is not very elastic and so I popped a few stitches on it the first time I wore the dress. Another time I’d twin-needle the hem.

I’ve been amazed how much I’ve worn this. The weather helps – the UK is having one of its rare summer heatwaves – but I think it would work with a long sleeved t-shirt and opaque tights in the autumn too. Highly recommended.

Drape Drape No 17 side view brown dk

Avant garde or big grey sack? Drape drape 2’s tuck drape dress

So a few months ago a part of the sewing blog world was calling for more constructively critical comments on sewing blogs. I seem to recall saying at the time I agreed with this…well although I love a positive comment as much as everyone else, my latest project seems like a good one to ask for constructive criticism on! It’s design 7, the ‘Tuck drape dress’ from Drape Drape 2. If you have the English-language edition it’s the ‘Two piece open batwing dress’. It hasn’t come out very much like the picture in the book, which you’ll have to take my word for. I’m not entirely sure whether it’s pleasingly avant garde or just a big grey sack.

Drape Drape 2 No 7

Possibly part of the reason for the difference from the book is that I have the Japanese language edition. You don’t need to read Japanese to use the book as the diagrams are excellent, but they don’t illustrate every step. I can believe I may not have sewn this up correctly. I also adjusted the original pattern. The original looked exceptionally short even on the model. I am very tall and have a long torso, so I added to both the bodice and skirt length. You can just about see the adaptations on the pattern pieces below. The bodice front and skirt were easy enough to lengthen, but the bodice back required a bit of fudging. The centre back seam is the longer curved edge on the bottom of the things that look like wings on the pattern. To lengthen it without changing other seams I had to rotate the bottom edge of the ‘wing’ down.

Drape Drape 2 No 7 pattern pieces

I definitely overdid the lengthening. The waist is sitting on my hips! The pattern also came up rather too large. The Drape Drape books have four pattern sizes, but this is one of the designs that comes in only two sizes: small-medium or large-extra large. I’m about a ‘large’ so I made the bigger size, but I ended up having to take quite a bit off the skirt side seams to try to stop the pleats sagging over the backside. I think I’d have been better off with the smaller size; maybe my fabric has too much stretch for the design.

Drape Drape 2 No 7 back view

The original pattern has kimono style sleeves with a slit made by leaving the overarm seam unsewn from the shoulder to just above the wrist. I omitted the slit because the UK isn’t warm enough for that sort of thing for most of the year. I think the sleeves look OK without it.

I have some extra seams in my dress because I ended up cutting the ‘wing’ parts of the pattern separately from the front bodice. They are separate paper pieces that are supposed to be stuck together and cut as one gigantic pattern piece, but my fabric wasn’t wide enough for that. I had to add seam allowances to the joining edges and sew the fabric pieces together after cutting. This worked really well. The extra seam isn’t at all obvious and it didn’t seem to cause any problems when sewing the pattern up. I’d point it out in the pictures but I can’t actually see it myself.

I had a little trouble with the pleats in the skirt. One side worked beautifully: after I’d folded and basted all the pleats the front and back edges matched up perfectly. The other side, not so much. There was enough length difference that I think I may have missed a pleat. However after careful study of the diagrams I couldn’t see where, so I settled for making one of the other pleats deeper to take up the slack. And now I can’t remember which side it was I adjusted; not sure what that says! Here they both are.

Drape Drape 2 No 7 right side

Drape Drape 2 No 7 left side

So on the whole I’m not not sure this one has worked as intended. I have worn it out of the house a couple of times so far. It’s growing on me, but it’s so unlike the original it doesn’t give me confidence to tackle any of the other Drape Drape designs. Any one else made anything from the Drape Drape books, especially this design? Any tips? And am I kidding myself that this really isn’t just a grey sack?