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Mar 21, 2017

Learning How to Drape in Knit

In my Saturday morning draping class (Draping IV), we're currently working in knit and I'm finding it very challenging.

There's something about knits -- their stretchiness and slinkiness -- that feels imprecise and difficult to control.  That said, here I am: I have to learn this.

Last week our professor taught us how to make a simple twist, which is a cool technique.   The challenge for me is marking the knit correctly so when I remove my drape I can turn it into a pattern -- or simply copy what I've made onto the other side of my dress form if we've only draped, say, the right side, as we sometimes do.

So far I've only been working in some gray cotton jersey I found at the Salvation Army, formerly a bedsheet.  It's beefy but not very fluid and prone to wrinkling.  So today I went fabric shopping and picked up something a little slinkier.

I looked at a ton of knits and was surprised at how few of them excited me.  Here are a few that caught my eye.

I liked the hand (and color) of Anna Sui knit but it was too expensive.

This Missoni-inspired acrylic blend was pretty but already had a worn look to the surface, like it's pilling.

I ended up buying the following:

An Alexander Wang polyester knit with a lovely glow and a heavy drape.  It would be ideal for a design incorporating a cowl or a twist.  Or both!

This poly-rayon-Lurex blend has a lot of glamour and a Seventies vibe.  Matching separates?  Jumpsuit?

I've been eyeing commercial patterns for inspiration.  This is not rocket science but I'm feeling intimidated.  Knits are new territory for me, though I've made a few knit things over the years, mainly underwear and a few shirts.  I need to have a completed draped dress by Saturday.  Wish me luck.

Have a great day, everybody!

Maybe with the fabric scraps?


  1. Good luck! I love knits and wear them almost every day. I was watching a Peggy Sager's video on You Tube and talk about imprecise! She sort of smoothed out the knit fabric and laid the pieces on top put one weight on each pattern piece, and cut. No careful measuring of grain or anything else I do. I am sure that if I was less precise I would not get as good results.

  2. Interesting posts on knits! Knits are my favorites, much preferred over wovens, mostly because of how they actually feel when worn, but you're so right - each one is different - front, back, hand, drape, finish, content, weave. And expertise at the sewing machine takes on a whole different meaning :-) I'm enjoying your work with them in your draping class. Love that you share all this.

  3. Any combination of rayon and polyester will be the Queen of the Pills, whether in wovens or in knits, in my experience. Bamboo knits feel great on, but like cotton knits, their recovery is not as good as in the synthetics. Remember that synthetics hold scent, for eternity. Be sure that whatever perfume or deodorant you use is one that you like a lot. And do, please, wear a deodorant: synthetics hold body odor just as long as they hold perfume. And cooking odors ... can you tell that I was permanently scarred against knitwear from my years wearing polyester double-knit when it first came out?

    1. Wore a favorite jumper to work, where they were retarring the roof.
      I had to throw that polyester jumper away.

      I still have the pattern, I could remake it. But the memory lingers in my nose.
      Peter, thank you for the final photo. A hearty laugh to brighten the day is always appreciated.

  4. You mention the fact of draping knits and then having to make a pattern once it is removed from the mannequin...people don't realize the blood sweat and tears that go into that progression. Back when I took 2 years of draping in college we soon realized what a wiggly wonky bitch knits could be in taming them with pins, marking and making into a paper pattern and then reversing the whole procedure and making the final garment along with waiting for the instructors to evaluate your markings, seam allowances, facings, etc for a final surely tests your patience!!!!

  5. It's interesting that you struggled to find any knits that you liked in fabric shops. One of the things that always surprises when I go to fabric shops is how limited, and often trashy, the choice of knits is especially given their ubiquity in the high street. You wonder where all the roll ends for these manufactured garments end up!

  6. OMG! That dude has a tent pole.

    Can't wait to see what you end up with on saturday!

  7. I love the knits at NY Elegant and B&J. If I wanted to go less expensive, I'd go to Kashi. If I wanted to go for yummy, I'd go to Elliott Berman. If simply practical, I'd go for Mood or Fabrics World USA. Cool, though, that you are learning to drape knits. I do drape knits by hand, but I am kinda self-taught in that regard. I ave learned by trial, error, error, error, reading books, more error, and eventually, success. Very cool course of study, though.


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