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A Guide to Fabric Drape

Sewing Jan 30, 2019

How To Choose The Right Fabric

Back onto one of my favourite subjects… Fabric!

As you’ll be well aware, one of my guilty pleasures is buying fabric. There’s just something so exciting about envisioning what it could become. Oh the possibilities! Sometimes though, your expectations for what you can make out of a piece of fabric are wayyyy off. Sadly, sewing fails are more common than I like to admit. But in my time sewing, I have learnt that one factor has had the power to make or break my project. And that is the drape!

In case you’re new to this fabric series, check out the other posts here:  How to Choose The Right Fabric,  Different Fabrics and their Properties and What Fabric Should I Use To Make…?

Let’s Talk Drape

What is it?

Drape is refers to the fluidity or rigidity of the fabric, which has an effect on how the fabric falls and creases, and for that reason is one of the most important factors in what your project ends up looking like.

High drape vs low drape

Drape, or lack thereof, is not a good or bad thing except as it applies to what you are making. It all comes down to the end product and what you want it to look like.  A fabric with high drape will be flowy, meaning that is hangs in small creases and clings. Silk, satin and chiffon usually have high drape. On the other hand, a fabric with low drape is stiff and hangs wider and holds its shape more. Denim, corduroy and upholstery fabric have low drape.

Drape vs weight

There is often a relationship between fabric weight and drape, but not always. Just because a fabric is lightweight doesn’t mean that it will have a good drape. And vice versa, not all heavy weight fabric will have low drape, though usually it does. Below we have shown on a graph how some fabric sit in terms of drape and weight.

How can you find out the drape?

The best way to understand drape is to hold and feel the fabric, watch how it falls and consider howe it will look as a garment. When you’re shopping for fabric, always unroll the fabric a few yards and see how it hangs.  Notice how silk hangs softly, while linens are more heavy with a tendency to stick out when pleated or gathered?  The best

My favourite fabrics and their drape

Low Drape Fabrics

Heavy cotton and linen both hold their shape and don’t drape as well on the body. However, I find because of their stiffness and weight, they are both quite easy to sew with.

Projects: DIY Maxi Dress | DIY Shirred Top | DIY Pleated Midi Skirt
Projects: DIY Wrap Mini Skirt | DIY Jumpsuit | DIY Shoulder Tie Top

High Drape Fabrics

Silk and chiffon are both fabrics that have high drape and therefore skim the body. However, they can often be slippery and difficult to sew with.

Projects: DIY Circle Top | DIY Off The Shoulder Top | DIY Silk Camisole

Make sure to check out our other fabric posts including How to Choose The Right Fabric,  Different Fabrics and their Properties and What Fabric Should I Use To Make…?



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