Complete Guide to Fashion Draping for Beginners

Fashion Draping: Tools, Techniques, Advantages and Disadvantages

Shubham Anil Jain
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


What is Fashion Draping?
Fashion draping is considered as one of the oldest method used since the 18th century. Currently, it is considered to be an important aspect in the process of fashion designing. This process consists of positioning and pinning fabric on a standard size dress form to develop the structure of a garment design. Many types and sizes of dress forms are designed for women, men and children to fulfill the requirement by using draping method. A garment can be draped using a design sketch as a support, or a fashion designer can play with different kinds of fabric and the way it falls to create new designs at the start of the dress design process. After draping, the toile fabric is take out from the dress form which was used to create the sewing draped pattern for making fashionable garment to suit an individual. In U.S.A. very light weight fabrics are used by designers, which is called as ‘toile’, and U.K. designers call it as ‘muslin’ cloth.

fashion draping
Figure 1: Fashion Draping

History of Draping
Draping is a most ancient and popular form of clothing. It is found that many visual arts of the Romans and Indian sculptures, terracottas, cave paintings, and wood carvings, presenting men and women wore the same (unstitched) clothes with the help various wrapping and draping styles. Uttariya, and Antariya are few prominent clothing items of draped garments from the Vedic period. Kasaya, another rectangular piece of the Buddhist robe, is a real example of the draped garment from ancient period. Further evolved forms of draped garments are Sari, Odhni, etc.

More examples of draped clothing from ancient periods are:

  • Uttariya, which is an upper body garment.
  • Adivasah, it is a loose-fitting outer garment, basically a type of over garment similar to a mantle or cloak.
  • Palla (garment) a long rectangular piece of cloth, folded in half lengthwise and used as a cloak by Roman women, consider as one of the most popular draped garment.
  • Antariya, a lower body garment.
  • Angvastra, a kind of stole.
  • Various kinds of headdresses are draped over the head for the protection and adornment of the head.
  • Stanapatta, a chest band to cover the breasts.
  • Stolas, it is a long full robe with or without sleeves and drawn in with a belt; which was worn by Roman women, corresponding to the toga, that was worn by men. They are usually woollen.
  • Sari is a draped garment of South Asia, typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, partly baring the midriff.
  • Traditional kilts and belted plaids.
  • Peplos, long draped garment worn by women of Ancient Greece, often open on one side, with a deep fold at the top, and fastened on both shoulders.
  • Togas, a very long length of woollen fabric that Romans wrapped around themselves, draping it over the left shoulder and arm and leaving the right arm free.
  • Veshti, a cloth wrap for the lower body in the Southern India.

Draping Tools
Draping tools are necessary to drape, measure, mark and draft designs.

fashion draping tools
Figure 2: Draping tools

1. Awl: It is a pointed metal instrument used for punching holes for belt eyelets.

2. 1/8-inch Clear Plastic Ruler: It is a two-inch wide ruler divided into 1/8-inch grids.

3. French Curve Ruler: An irregular curve ruler used to shape and curve edges of collars, necklines, crotch seams, armhole and hip curves.

4. Iron: A steam-and-dry iron is used to smoothen and flatten and aid in blocking muslin.

5. L-Square: A metal or plastic ruler with two arms of different lengths meeting at right angles.

6. Muslin: An inexpensive fabric, on which the grain and cross grain are quite visible. Basically it is used to drape garments made of woven goods.

7. Notcher: A punching tool used to mark the edge of a sloper or paper pattern.

8. Pencils: Pencils are used in developing muslin patterns.

9. Pin Cushion or Pin Dispenser: A sewing tool that keeps pins organized in a convenient place.

10. Scissors and Shears: Shears are usually four-to eight inches long and made of steel Bent-handled shears are excellent for easy and straight cutting.

11. Style Tape: A narrow, woven tape that is used to define style lines on the dress form.

12. Straight Pins: Dressmaker pins with sharp tapering points that will not rust are used to anchor muslin or fabric to the dress form while draping.

13. Tailor’s Chalk: A small piece of chalk, approximately 1 ‘/2” square, with two tapered edges. It is used to mark lines temporarily on different points of garment and other alteration points.

14. Tracing Wheel: It is a sharp, spike edged circular wheel with a handle, particularly used to transfer markings from the drape to the pattern paper.

15. Yardstick: A wooden or metal ruler one yard in length (36 inches) that is marked in inches or metric terms, An aid for laying pattern pieces on the straight grain of the fabric or for measuring hemlines.

You may also like: Important Fashion Design Tools for Beginners

Selection of Fabric for Draping
While selecting fabrics and clothes, we must relate it to our lifestyles and our active routine. There are various fabrics which are most suitable for fashion draping purpose such as stretchy knitted fabrics, chiffon, georgette, organza, sheer cottons, voile, and light weight silk and many more. Drapability of fabric plays an important role in making sophisticated draped garments. Generally, very light weight to medium weight fabric is suitable for draped garments. When the garments are made of woven goods, then they are usually draped in muslin or an inexpensive fabric where the grain and cross grain are quite visible. Generally, the quality and hand of the muslin should represent the texture and characteristics of the actual fabric used for the garment design.

muslin fabric
Figure 3: Muslin fabric

To simulate the draping quality of natural or synthetic silk, and knitted cloth, soft muslin is used. Mostly, medium-weight muslin will simulate the draping quality of wool and medium-weight cottons. Coarse muslin will imitate the draping quality of heavy weight wool and cottons. When the canvas muslin considered, it will simulate the draping qualities of heavy weight fabrics such as denim or imitation fur. To prepare the garments of knitted fabrics, less expensive knit fabric should be utilized. However, it should be seen that the sample knit should have the same stretch value as in the fabric selected for the finished garment. Generally, the right side of the front dress form is used to drape the front basic pattern or garment. These steps may vary, however, this is the standard rule when fitting and draping any type of garment. In simple words, draping technique means the way a fabric hangs or falls in a dress form as well as on the human body.

Fashion Draping Techniques
As Draping is the art of creating a garment by arranging the fabric around a dress form. This is usually done by utilizing the fabric’s natural fall. For the uninformed, draping involves different techniques such as pleating and gathering to create a dramatic effect. However, to master this art one needs to understand each and every aspect of draping, hence there are six basic steps for draping to get you started:

1. Prepping:
The first step is to have perfect and accurate measurements of the garment or dress form. Next, part is to mark the center line of the dress by using a tape. This will help to keep the draping even across the dress.

measuring tape
Figure 4: Measuring tape

2. Sketch: 
Preparing a sketch or illustration of your garment always helps in designing the garment. This helps us to give clear idea about how to go for draping. Here, the sketch will help to understand how to best manipulate the fabric in order to get the dramatic and creative effect.

sketch or illustration of garment
Figure 5: Sketch or illustration of garment

3. Muslin: 
This is the most common fabric used in draping process; it is flexible in its thickness and volume. Thus, giving a chance to designers for experiment and play around as your requirement.

4. Pinning:
Pinning is a process which pulls the folds of the fabric together to create the draping design. Pinning will give you a good visualization of how the garment will look after completion.

Figure 6: Pinning

5. Basting the Fabric: 
Once it is finished with draping and pinning, the next step is to baste the fabric. In this step, either sew the fabric to the foundation piece or sew the fabric itself to complete the draping process.

Basting the Fabric
Figure 7: Basting the Fabric

6. Trimming: 
The last step is common across various designing techniques. Here, trim off any excess fabrics that may remain after it is finished with draping. The raw edges of the draping should always be hidden neatly in the seams, so that it looks perfect and clean.

Figure 8: Trimming

Each of the above mentioned steps or techniques are designed to help in making the process of draping easier and develop the draping skills.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fashion Draping


  1. It helps in clear visualization of the garment. With the process of draping, fashion designers can get a proper idea and visualize that how a dress is going to look at the end, even before starting to cut, stitch and design the costume.
  2. The biggest advantage of draping is that it allows room for customization. A dress or a specific garment can be made as per the concerned person measurements and requirements.
  3. It results in less wastage of the fabric wherein you can do try out before you actually cut the fabric.
  4. The process of draping also allows you to make different paper patterns and designs which can be used further for idealization of the next dress.
  5. It is a three dimensional method, the design can be visualized while draping and any necessary changes or modifications can also be made.
  6. This helps the designer to achieve the difficult designs by draping different fabrics. For designs like cowls this method can be used which gives good results.
  7. A designer can play with many designs and create new designs with the fabric falls to start an apparel manufacturing process.
  8. It is a very useful as many variations in the design can be done easily and considered as time saving method for a fashion designer.


  1. It is an expensive technique of garment construction and not so popular in India.
  2. Draping requires more skill than required for drafting.
  3. In this process initially dresses are draped on dummy with a cheaper quality fabric so sometimes the look of the final garment cannot be assessed correctly by this method.
  4. As this process is more of a creative and artistic one, it requires having more talent and fashion sense.
  5. For more complicated design, you have to have a general sense of the shape before you start, in order to cut the right size of the fabric.

Nowadays, Draping is considered as an important process, as it helps fashion designers to play with fabric, to apply their creativity to see where darts, tucks, and other design elements fit better and how it behaves on the body. In modern days, mostly women prefer to wear draped style garments. Fashion draping is mostly used in theatrical costumes, movies, etc. Most of the times evening wear, stage wear, and party wear garments are made with the fashion technocrats using draping techniques. A designer can do various designs and variations by this method and can create new innovative designs with the fabric falls to start a garment manufacturing process. Many fashion institutes in the world is emphasizing on this technique, owing to its popularity and trend in future. Generally, it requires little bit of extra efforts but, with rigorous practice this will become easier and more customers can be satisfied with accurate draped dresses in less time.


  1. The Art of Fashion draping-Connie Amaden -Crawford.
  2. Comdex fashion design- Dr.Navneet Kaur.
  4.,by fashion2fibre.
  5. Fashion Draping- Helen Joseph Armstrong.
  6. Basics of fashion design, Knitwear design by Alexander McQueen, A/W09.
  7. Fashion Design: The Complete Guide, by JOHN HOPKIN.

Image references


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  2. Different Types of Dart Techniques in Pattern Making
  3. Dart Manipulation Techniques for Flat Patterns
  4. Impact on Miniature Dress Forms in Fashion Designing
  5. Basic Elements and Techniques of Garment Fitting
  6. Benefits and Importance of Computer Aided Design in Fashion Industry

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