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No Rules Draping, Part 4: Create Pattern Pieces

Envision a garment, then use your dress form to drape and make a pattern.

A linen dress I completed earlier this year is an example of how I can turn a design inspiration into wearable reality with the aid of my trusty dress form. This is the fourth installment in the No Rules Draping series in which I have shared ways I use my custom dress form as I design, engineer, and construct garments. Working on the dress form in 3-D has fundamentally changed how I sew. 

I used to start from a pattern. Whatever Vogue or McCall’s had put on pattern paper was the limiting factor for my designs. Though I quickly learned how to ‘Frankenstein’ several patterns together to get the details I wanted, I was still relying on what I could get in a pattern catalog. The dress form opened up the possibility of draping my own patterns. Now, I don’t have to cross my fingers and hope that there is a pattern for the garment I want to make. My starting point for a project can be a wonderful piece of fabric, a dress I saw in a movie, or a top on the person sitting across the aisle on an airplane (just be careful not to stare too intently, as it makes fellow passengers uneasy). Knowing that I can create the pattern that I want, instead of having to find it already drafted, is game-changing.

Let’s walk through the process I used to create pattern pieces and construct the linen dress.


Here are some tools I like to use when making new pattern pieces.

Painter’s tape for marking the dress form

French curves, or fashion rulers, for trueing design lines

Tailor’s chalk for marking fabric

Straightedge and pencil


Rather than use commercial patternmaking paper, I save the paper that comes wrapped around…

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  1. anisusu | | #1

    Thank you so much for this draping series. I tend to torture myself trying to do things beyond my current skill level. Your tutorials have made me see that I can begin draping, too!

  2. user-6933191 | | #2

    What a great series, I learned a lot. Never thought about using the selvage edge, like you said some of them are beautifully woven, I'm going to try that out. Thanks for all your hard work I appreciated it.

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