Step-By-Step Guide To Draping A Dress

Published/Updated on:
October 31, 2023

Draping is a process that is used in the fashion industry to pin and position a garment on a mannequin to determine the exact design and structure of the garment. For fashion design students, professional dressmakers and those who would like to learn sewing garments, learning this technique can greatly benefit you as it allows you to understand the fabric and visualise the design physically. 

Draping allows you to immediately gauge the fit on the body and rectify if there are any design problems. At the same time, you can also experiment with new ideas and patterns, customising the garment with your darts, tucks and other design elements.  

Not sure where to start? Here are 7 steps you can follow to start draping a design of your own. 

Step 1 - Acquire Materials 

Before you start draping anything, you’ll need the appropriate materials for your design. You can play around and experiment with easily drapable fabrics like chiffon or muslin to avoid wasting any good fabric. Do also purchase a dress form or a mannequin that fits closely to the body type for which you’re designing, relevant sewing materials, pins, rulers and shears. 

Step 2 - Begin A Design Sketch

Before touching the fabric, decide on the details of your design for your garment. This process where you sketch (also known as a “croquis” in the fashion industry) your design is where you picture how the neckline, the fit or the length of the whole garment would look like. Sketch down your design with basic pointers for yourself on how much material you might need. 

Step 3 - Take Measurements

To give you a clearer picture of how much fabric is required, measure all the relevant sections of the mannequin such as the front and back bodice, waistline, neckline, and so on. Only after taking these measurements do you begin cutting your fabric. 

Step 4 - Overlay The Pattern On The Mannequin

WIth the pieces that you’ve cut out from your fabric, start draping the mannequin with a foundation piece, as you start piecing together the patterns for the back and front bodice, front and back skirt, and so forth. According to your sketches, you can add folds, designs and patterns to your fabric to fit your overall idea. 

Step 5 - Pin Where Necessary

As you add your pattern pieces, you should also fix any fitting issues. If the garment clings tightly to the bodice, pin it tightly and add some notes of where the seam lines would be once you remove these pins. 

Step 6 - Remove The Draped Garment

Once you are satisfied with how your garment looks on the mannequin, remove it carefully so that you do not mess up the pleats, tucks and so on. Lay the garment flat on a table for a process called truing. This step is where you finalise the markings with help of rulers and curves, smoothing out all the markings and notes you made before.


Step 7 - Sew The Seams

After completing the draping process of positioning and pinning all your garment patterns, you can start sewing using the seam and grains as a guide. With that sewn fabric, your design prototype is finally done! 

If you would like to learn sewing and know more about the art of draping, you can enrol yourself in’s Basic Draping Course  which allows you to understand how apparel design and paper patterns can be drafted through draping techniques. Contact us today if you would like to know more

Learn more on The Process of Creating Your Fashion Collection in our previous blog!

Nicole Toh

Hi! I'm Nicole. I am a Junior Marketing Executive in Look forward to more blogs and content coming up from me! I love a good cup of tea, some light exercise and listening to music! I am always open to a thought provoking conversation, so hit me up if you've something you want to debate on! 

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