CJ Drape Skirt

CJ Drape Skirt

What a week ! A brand new set of workshops for Personal Block Development, and an amazing group of students with some surprising things to say. Firstly the new workshops: they’re an addition to the existing program at Studio Faro and extend the scope of the basic and advanced pattern making workshops.   They’re focussed on allowing individuals the time and space needed to perfect their own block fit, before making the first fit toile. It’s so disappointing and risky to attempt pattern making with an ill-fitting block.  For fans not able to come to these classes I’ve added all my garment blocks to the website as PDF downloads.

With the knowledge that only 20% of the population are covered by the (median) size charts used in industry, it’s no coincidence that students are keen to understand the fit rules, and how to achieve a good fit for themselves.  And to make sure the experience is not lost at the end of the workshop, all students are welcome to return to the studio with their toiles and work through their fittings in detail.  We all know how impossible it is to do your own fittings. :]
And the conversations that sprang from intelligent minds in the room spanned bra fittings to blogs and commenting, and the Largen Look.  The Largen Look and Bra Fittings will have to wait for future posts.  I’d like to share my own little epiphany from the workshop, around a renewed understanding of blog writing, replying to comments and how important it is to use your inside voice.  In the fashion industry, we speak to each other in a clipped, direct and often curt manner that would surprise the onlooker.  We’re not being rude, nor are we offended, we’re just getting the job done and getting it done quickly.  Yet in the classroom that shifts down a gear or two as the teacher prepares the students for industry.  Even then the stakes are high and the expectations higher.  The (online) world I now find myself in, requires more of a mentor’s touch, rather than an academic’s voice (something I learned during a decade of formal teaching).  I’ve noticed how my voice has gentled over the past two years and I’m really enjoying the change.
Then to top that all off; I received an email on the morning after the workshop from a young architect on the other side of the world.  There had been an emergency regarding a draped formal dress, needed for a wedding to be held in only a few days time.  And it was apparently this blog that offered the solution to the problem.  So happy, so very blushing now. :}


This weeks #PatternPuzzle is not an exact copy of the Charles James Skirt but a very do-able pattern for a 101 approach to understanding darts to drape in flat pattern making.  No really, that’s what I used to call the workshop; so formal and so academic. :]  This Charles James skirt has so many complex panels that it started to send me a little crazy, so the decision was made to modify and simplify.
In this style I have worked to the natural waistline (quite high by our current fashion standards) as it suits the style and fit of the Charles James model.  Using my skirt block or your favourite pencil skirt pattern, trace out a full front and back shape for this asymmetric pattern:
  1. Extend the skirt length past the knee for up to 15-20cm to reach the mid-calf.
  2. Taper all four side seams to achieve a close-fit effect in the hang of this skirt around the seat and the thighs.
  3. Plan the direction and location of your drape tucks.  In this case I have located 4 tucks on the upper left side seam and marked in the direction of the tucks toward the hip and upper thigh on the right side seam.  (Note in the final pattern I have adjusted this to three tucks to work better with the fabric allowance.)
  4. I have altered the front and back darts slightly to connect them to the drape lines that make the hip tucks.  This will ensure all the dart fitting in the skirt is transferred to the drape feature.
  1. Cut along the drape lines, fold out the waist darts and open each section to include enough fabric for each of the tucks.  
  2. In addition to the drape from the darts, the other sections have been opened approx. 5-6cm
  3. Please note that in this early pattern development there is an unevenness in the amount of drape from the darts and the extra drape openings.  In the final pattern, all of this extra fabric will be divided equally between only three hip tucks.  I think you may find there is not quite enough fabric to make four decent tucks.
  4. Finally, swingout both left side seams (lift to a 30-40º angle) to make the fishtail drape in the left side seam of the skirt.
  1. For the final pattern, divide all the extra fabric on the left side seam into three even tucks.  Place them in the same location but set them out at equal positions and intervals. 
  2. You have a choice of tracing off a waist facing for this skirt or drafting a strap waistband, as in the original sketch.  
  3. The tricky part of this pattern is the dart-like opening on the right side seam.   Depending on your skill level you may be able to include a zip in the right side dart.  If necessary you can open the pattern a little to give yourself more space for inserting the zipper.  Or alternatively, include a placket for both sides of the opening for a different style of fastening (buttons).
  4. After all, it’s not absolutely necessary for this skirt to be a one-piece pattern.  A seam on the right side of the skirt will not compromise the style or fit in any way.
  5. Add bias grain lines to the skirt and a block fusing instruction to the facing or waistband.
  6. I suggest the construction order for the left side seam will be: sew the seam first and sew the tucks in place afterwards.  If you sew the tucks first then the seam, you will squash the drape feature flat into the seam and lose the profile of the drape.
Wishing you all the best with this new pattern.  If possible, please make sure the block or pattern you start with has already been altered to suit your own figure type.  This is how you get the best results in pattern making, by knowing that you can rely on the block you are using.
Let me know if you have any questions.  Always happy to help. 🙂
Anita McAdam
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