The Rough Stuff

Once Greta’s custom dress form was complete, I began to create what is called a rough drape.  For my rough drape, I take inexpensive fabric and drape it on the “body”, sculpting and pinning a rough life-size version of my design.

I am constantly looking at my sketch for reference.   I listen to the fabric (and my gut instincts) when making decisions about style lines and fit until the rough drape works itself into a nice balance between good design, good proportions, and even a little math.

When draping a symmetrical garment, the rough drape need only be for half of the body.   This drape is what I use to create my paper patterns which will also be drafted on the half, and then doubled symmetrically when cut.  The rough drape is experimental.  Improving upon the original sketch ideas while cutting and drawing all over a lot of fabric is par for the course, so halving this part of the process is a good way to cut down on waste.

Once my drape is close to where I want it, (while still pinned on the form) I trace all of my seams, darts, edges and crucial markings with a pencil outline.  (You might be able to see some of my pencil marks in the photo above.)

I then, unpin the “dress” and individually lay out the fabric pieces flat onto brown paper.  With a spiky wheel, I transfer all of the fabric marks onto the paper underneath.

Using my ruler, french curve and pencil, I then “connect the dotted lines” to draft each paper pattern piece.

The paper pattern is still very rough at this point, but it is now prepped for truing and tweaking.

More on that, next post!



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Hi there! I'm Brooks Ann.

I’m an independent designer and couture dressmaker for one-of-a-kind bridalwear located in Hillsborough, North Carolina. I also teach the sew-curious both in-person and online.

My blog follows along with the couture process of how each heirloom-quality custom wedding dress is made from idea to wedding day, as well as other interesting tidbits related to sewing, weddings, and body positivity.

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