[Module 7] Draping | 7. Draping Zero Waste - Part 2




Furtive Pocket Wrap Skirt

This Wrap Skirt concept although overtly simplistic can have many design options that take it from the baseline. I would think a simple Wrap Skirt is in every designers sewing box and most wardrobes in the western world!


Taking the Kimono idea into this garment the baseline shape is a rectangle at least as long as desired (plus Seam Allowances and Hem) and wide enough to get around the hips plus a full front width or less to allow for the wrapping overlap, the waist would have Darts to shape it or Gathers/Pleats added for volume.


Diversions from the baseline depends on lifestyle, accessibility and personal aesthetic, design and how it fits with a capsule wardrobe to name but a few.


The skirt can be any length, any amount of volume, with any number of seams added, a Wave Line can also be added into the Base and cut and rotated to create a change of angle and length (detailed below) and of course can be made in any fabric or print with any embellishments applique or embroidery added.


To bring some life to this variable form, here are a few ideas of what appearances it can take; as a basic short wrap skirt, with a little length or shaped opening (using the Wave Line idea), more volume with Pleats/Tucks and a hidden pocket in Front, a Waistband, Ties of any size, with a shaped Base (using the Wave Line idea).



I sure if you put your mind to it you can come up with your own variations on the design.


But even with this very simple idea for a skirt you should always make a Test Garment first (this is also a great idea with this garment so that you can try lots of different variables with the contours).


Some questions to ask yourself when thinking of the design and in no particular order are;

  • What are you going to wear it with?

  • Will it fit into current wardrobe or will you need to create another piece out of the collection?

  • Think proportion.

  • Think Volume, will it have pleats?

  • How far does it need to wrap?

  • How will it fasten?

  • Shape, do you want a more interesting shape to the design if yes you can use a wave line (read on….)

  • It has a secret pocket what would you put in it?

  • On what days will you wear it? Day wear beach, leisure, dressy?

  • What fabric will you use?

  • How is it going to fasten poppers idea or buttons, elastic or just ties?

  • Taking it another step will it be reversible, simple one side pleated the other, facings could be incorporated?

Green Layout Shapes

The layout on the fabric will make or break the design of the Zero Waste challenge so lots of thought needs to be put into this. So you need to consider your design or you need to drape and play and come up with one.


Once you have the bones of the design you can seriously get started on the layout.


My logical brain in reaction to this is that we need some sort of control that can be recorded and mapped out. Something Flexible that allows for change and scalability, that can be used for any garment but simple to generate and utilize. So I have evolved a Green Layout Method. It is a rather simple idea which allows measurements to be used in a table that offers a top level view in order to assess how each piece fits with other pieces and how they all fit with your fabric width. It is works better with simple shapes.


This has led to a tabular form of documenting measurements. The Green Measurements denote variable measurements all of the other measurements are not variable in that they are static usually because of a required body measurement that cannot be allowed to change. All Green Measurements when changed will affect the design of the garment but also the amount of fabric used and thus the size required. With that in mind then you can alter any of the Green Measurements to make your shape fit a space be it the space of a body or the space of an available piece of fabric.


If we look at the most complex of the sketches for this Wrap Skirt, with lots of volume and shaping to see the layout required you will need the following shapes and measurements.


Main Skirt – A Rectangle


LENGTH = Wearing length of the Front, Plus one Waist Seam Allowance, Plus Hem Allowance.


WIDTH = Widest Hip Circumference (you can add design ease here but you should not need so much wearing ease as the skirt will open in the front as you sit and walk), Plus a Front Width of the Waist Circumference for the overlap (or less if you prefer it more open), Plus Pleat Allowance in the Back (I like odd numbers for pleats so 3 each side at 2” each = 6”), or one big Box Pleat in back might look interesting, Plus one Pleat in the Front Short Side = 2”, Plus the Pocket Pleat in the Front Long Side which is twice the finished width required for the Pocket (measure your hand diagonally and double it say 16” on a large hand) another way to determine this is the measurement from Front Princess to Princess Lines centrally to where the Pocket will be placed so around Hip Bone level which would take the fastening out to the Side Seam so reduce this if you don’t wish to go out so far, Plus a Seam Allowance for the Front Short Side, Plus a Facing Allowance for the Front Long Side so when the wind blows you don’t see the posterior side of the fabric, say around 4”.


A note about the Pleats - the difference between the Waist and Hip Circumference is all dart space. This dart space needs to be added to any pleat space in the table and should be shared amongst the pleats, how you assign the excess between the pleats is your choice. If you don’t do this then you risk the skirt width being too long. If you just want to use dart space and no pleats then you don’t need to add any extra pleat allowance into the table below, the pleats will end up being simple darts in this case and can be sewn as darts if preferred.


Waistband – A Rectangle


LENGTH – At least the Waist Circumference plus double Seam Allowance. If you are incorporating the Tie lengths into the Waistband then extend the Waistband you may get the Waistband and Ties out of the same piece and don’t forget your Seam Allowances. Unless you are making skinny Ties in which case they will be measured and cut separately. Ties do not have to be as wide as the Waistband they can be any width strong enough to use as a Tie and stitched into seams or on top of the skirt.


WIDTH – As desired the Waistband will sit above the Natural Waist. Double the finished width and add two times the Seam Allowance to be used.


Green Layout Measurement Table

Pencil in what you know and have decided on then adjust from there. This detail can be added to your Pattern Record Card.


For this Wrap Skirt there will be two pieces listed. You may have multiple panels or pattern pieces for the skirt or extra ties so you would expand on this concept and create your own table.

Here is a sample filled in for the draping on the half sized Body Form measurements are in red.

Now you have this top level view in the Total column you can more easily assess the picture.


Starting with the largest piece compare the Length/Width of the Skirt with the Width of the fabric and you will soon see whether you need to drape with or against the Grain and also if you need to alter any of the Green Adjustable Measurements just to get it to fit.


At the same time if you are using a Waistband, assess the Length of the Waistband with the Length/Width of the skirt and you will soon see how you can fit the shape onto the fabric.


Considering the layout…..


Making the draping for the mini body form is different from draping a full sized version I know, but to give you an example the fabric width I am working with is 45” so if I wanted to position the skirt across the width of the fabric I would have 7” left over (45” – 38”).


The Length of the calculated Waistband happens to be 26” so if I allowed it to be 28” as it is a flexible measurement I could half it and make a join and this could make the Waistband and the Ties. This means I have a 3” by 14” piece of fabric left over, I can either use this for something else (preferable if I don’t need it for now) or incorporate it in the design and have wider Pleats or a Facing on the Short Front Side or a wider Waistband.

In fact after draping the sample it turned out that I preferred a longer Tie so I would use a 2” strip of this to create 14” of extra length for the Waistband/Ties and shift the remaining 1” to the Skirt piece for Short Front Side Facing or use it as a binding for a different project.

Creating this Green Measurement Layout Table gives you a full visual view of all of the different elements and what is adjustable. When you make Zero Waste garments you have to think about lots of things at once so it helps to have a process and a way to write it all down. You get a top level view of what is going on which is a really good way to access your pieces. It’s a baseline to work from when you want to change up the design.


Draping Guide

This is a guide to draping this piece, although feel free to deviate for your own design.


I mentioned a Wave Line earlier, and this is an interesting concept that has been expanded upon by a current Zero Waste ambassador Holly McQuillan. It shifts us along complexity from simple graphic block shapes to using curves. It is simply use of a curved style line which allows you to affect the silhouette of the skirt. It can be used on any shape to create different silhouettes for any garment. For a skirt we are talking about a basic tube shape.



When flat the tube is a rectangle. If you draw a Wave Line across the rectangle this will create a cut line. The line could be anywhere across the shape, it can meander across how you want it to and the wave depth can be any size. As you look at the modelling below imagine how it would look if you changed the wave, or get a piece of paper and have a play around with modelling this out.

The idea is to cut along the Wave Line and reattach it back on the base but not in the same place, you will rotate it.


It is easier to grasp this by looking at the tube. Once the rectangle is rolled and taped down as a tube the Wave piece can be stuck back on. Here the wave has been stuck back on with the open edges on the opposing side of the tube which can create a split of sorts which can be a little tricky to close but it is possible, imagine what would happen with the side view if you taped up this split. Using the Wave Line changes the tube from flat in the base to being longer in the Back and shorter in the Front and also tips the shorter side up a little.


If the Wave piece is flipped over vertically first before being attached then the deep edges can be closed more easily in the back, I think it would be an easier sew, see how this draws the back in.


What would happen if you drew a deeper wave?


Where else could you use this in the garment? What about down the length of the skirt to change the shape of the Front opening? Where could you use this in other garments? In a sleeve?


If you are going to use a Wave Line then mark the Wave Line onto the fabric, you can cut this now or leave it and decide later if experimenting. If you are going to use it cut it off and reposition pinning and stitching it in place.



Palpably the shape of the skirt will change depending on which way you draw the wave and how deep a curve you draw.



I have left this for now to concentrate on the rest of the skirt.


Fold over the Waist Seam allowance and press or pin it down.



The pleats in the table are slightly larger in total for the Front than the Back. Your measurements will be different. Work out the mid-point of the fabric and shift across by the number different inches for front and back and pin this at the Princess Line in Back opposite to the side that will be open in the Front, keep in mind that if the Skirt opens on the left that the left side of your fabric will have the Front pleat in. Otherwise work out a starting point for the draping based on your measurements. Once patterned out you can mark key orientation points with notches for Princess Lines and Side Seams.










Smooth out the Back and pin to secure the other Princess Line at the Waist.


If you have filled out the pleat information in the table then work out the total Pleat Allowance (including the Dart Space) and drape out the Pleats, keeping the Waistline level.


The Dart space in this sample is 4 ½” (17 ½” – 13”) divided across all seven Darts (six in Back and one in the Short Front Side). It is around 5/8” for each Dart, add this onto the table allocated amount.


Choose the direction of the Pleats.




















Choose the position of the Pleats






















But you need to use up the assigned space for the Pleats (unless you are still experimenting with volume).


















There now….