Great British Sewing Bee semi finale- Tips for draping and copying existing clothes

Can’t Believe it’s the semi final of the second series of the bee already!

This week’s them was all about sewing without a pattern! Whilst this may seem daunting to home sewers used to working from commercial patterns,it can actually be liberating way to sew, and make the clothes you’re imagining in your head. As a Costumier, my favourite ways to cut is actually to drape on the stand, which is how I made all these costumes with the exception of the shorts.

misc costume work

Draping is simply laying fabric over a dressmaking dummy and then forming the fabric into the desired shape for your garment. It’s great to get a non standard fit, once the dummy has been padded out to match the body of the wearer, and is the best way to cut bias garments.

Here’s a video from a master draper at Dior… this lady makes me swoon, she’s so talented!

In the world of costume, it’s essential to be able to take a pattern from an existing garment, without destroying the original, and tonight we saw 4 sewers approach this challenge in very different ways. There are a few styles, ‘direct measures’ being one, which is the process of carefully measuring the original garment at key points, and then transferring this over onto paper, this is how Chinello copied her dress. Tamara chose to use a method that involves draping a piece of fabric onto the garment, and carefully pinning/drawing the pattern shape. a good technique for fiddly shapes.

Generally I use a method called spike and trace which is a variation of the rub off technique, and perfect for impatient sewers like me!

This is an excellent video from Nancy’s notions that will help you get started


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