Once we have sketched out our ideas for a design, we need to figure out which ones we would like to attempt to bring to life. We need to take in account the way that it would be constructed, how a person will put it on, and how we will create the first pattern. When we have decided on the design to attempt, we need to make a first pattern. A first pattern is like the rough draft. Its the first attempt to the real deal. There are two ways of creating a first pattern. One, we can make a flat pattern, like seen below:
Or we can drape our first pattern as seen in these pictures below: Pattern Draping is a procedure where you use muslin or a fabric similar to the one you want to use in your design and drape it on a dress form allowing it to lay in the way you want your design to look on the body. You use pins to place the fabric in the appropriate places, then marking all areas that follow your design.
For me, the best way to decide whether to use a flat pattern or drape for my own first pattern, I think about the design. If I have alot of details and need all correct placement, or want to design something very body concious (like a corset for instance), or want to have fabric that drapes on the body, I will drape my first pattern on the dress form. If I am designing something with minimal details, or a basic look, or something that doesn't need focus on fit, then I will use a flat pattern.
Once I have decided on how I will create my first pattern, I will do it accordingly. My first pattern is usually very rough, but gets the idea across. I don't spend quality time on perfecting my fit or placement of details, but want to get the general idea across. If I drape my first pattern, I will then lay it on a table and create a flat pattern from it.
After I have created a first pattern, I will then cut into a muslin or fabric that is similar to my design, but not the actual fabric. I am using this as a sample of my design. I will sew it up and put it on the dress form to see how it looks and how close it is to the design I want. From this sample, I am able to see changes that need to be made and I can mark them and change my pattern accordingly. This step is very crucial, you never want to cut into your real fabric from a first pattern. Even if it looks great, I want to make it perfect, so I will try to change at least a few things. And, almost always, my first sample never looks the way I want it to.
If you want more help on draping, check out these videos I found helpful:
For Flat Patternmaking, I use a book called Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. I highly recommend it. It is easy to follow and covers many different types of designs and all kinds of garments. We were required to have this book when I was in school and I still use it now.
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