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The Art of Fashion Draping, fourth edition.

The Art of Fashion Draping, fourth edition

By Connie Amaden-Crawford; New York,

Fairchild Press, 2012. 515 pp. Paper, $101.50.

Writing an effective textbook on the art and techniques of garment draping is a difficult undertaking. It can be confusing to try to describe how to handle fabric on a dress form or how to analyze the hang and fit of a finished garment from text and illustrations alone. The recently published fourth edition of Connie Amaden-Crawford's The Art of Fashion Draping is not this type of textbook. Rather, the revisions and improvements to this book, originally published in 1989, provide excellent step-by-step instruction in the kinesthetic action that goes into draping, and it clarifies garment evaluation with detailed checklists of applicable criteria. Additionally, classic design styles and intermediate and advanced drape variations have been included in this edition.


The book is structured in four parts: Part One, Introduction to Draping, is a longer (20-page) introduction to Principles and Skills, terminology, tools, and preparation for draping with a much improved section discussing design development. Adding to the analysis of design creation is a completely new section on selecting fabrics and textiles. Whereas previous editions listed topics such as woven fabrics and knitted fabrics, this edition provides lists of various fibers, fabric names and weights, and construction of fabrics under each heading. This updating includes sections on new fibers, including bamboo, modal rayon, Tencel, textile blends, and sustainable fabrics.

In discussing fabric grain, the location and qualities of each are discussed first, followed by how to locate each fabric type. This information is then followed immediately by fabric blocking instructions for a nice transition of information. This reordering is a great improvement over the previous editions.

Single pages to address Draping Fabric on the Form and Principles of Balanced Patterns each may not seem like much, but the information is important and clearly written; sketches of patterns with perfect grain line positions marked in maroon aid understanding. Garment balance is discussed and illustrated here as well as in a completely new chapter on Fitting at the end of the book.

For the beginner

Part Two, Basic Foundation Patterns, is written for the beginning draper. It covers draping of basic bodices, skirts, torso/blouse, and drafting of a fitted sleeve. Trueing of drapes and making patterns lead to final slopers for each foundation. Improvements in this edition are additional bodice styles, as well as instructions for draping a bodice on a live model. More extensive evaluation guidelines, including attention to the lack or excess of ease, are also cleanly laid out.

Part Three, Intermediate Techniques, is similar to the previous editions of the book. There are new bodices, blouses, princess, and dartless designs, as well as two new skirt drapes. Kimono and raglan designs are introduced in the Basic Foundation section, with Sleeve Drapes for those styles included in Part Three. While there is little new information here, the way the information is imparted has been much improved. This is a result, in large part, of the larger, clearer step-by-step drawings of the draping procedures, patterns, and appearance of the garment design.

Advanced techniques

Part Four, Advanced Techniques, contains the most revisions and additions to the book. Three new chapters cover Jackets, Formal Dresses, and Fitting Techniques, while the chapter on Knit Designs is greatly expanded. However, I found the chapter on Pants disappointing. There is a detailed introduction to pants designs and styling, but the chapter itself is for a basic pants draft, not for a pants drape. Leg shapes and waist detailing are shown draped on a basic mockup with scant written information. This chapter lacks the attention to detail so carefully included in the rest of the book.

The chapter on knit designs is clearly revised and includes new drapes for current styles of tops, leggings, and dress styles.

Draping instructions for Jacket Silhouettes and Collar/Lapel Designs make up a welcome additional chapter in this edition. A wide range of jacket body styles include darted, princess line, panel, and boxy cut. Collar styles include notched, shawl, and revere. The illustrations that accompany the collars make working through this area very understandable, a challenge for those with little experience in jacket construction. One- and two-piece jacket sleeve drafts are included. The instructions for the latter are the easiest to follow of any procedures I've ever worked with.

Formal Dress Designs and Fitting Techniques are covered in the other new chapters. The latter describes fitting objectives, techniques, and pattern alterations for a number of basic alterations. Garment balance is again addressed here in more detail than earlier in the book.

The extensive use of illustrations throughout every chapter is the highlight of this book. Drawings are used not only to clarify hang and fit of all types of garments, but also to illustrate basic tools--even an iron and ironing board! Illustrations have been updated to show current styles, such as deep turtleneck cowls, wave necklines, longer skirts, and shorter shoulder lengths. In the drawings that accompany draping procedures, maroon lines have been added to the light and medium gray tones used to indicate right and wrong sides of the fabric, thereby making the placement of grainlines, level lines, draping marks, and trued seam lines easier to see and understand.

All aspects of the graphic design of this book have been greatly improved. Illustrations are larger, and there is less wasted white space on each page. The pages are filled, but not crowded, with new and/or revised information. Fonts are standardized and bold styles removed in places such as the table of contents, making reading easier and the layout more attractive.

I do have one quibble with an illustration that has appeared in previous editions and remains unchanged here. The final pattern for the front of the bias slip dress is shown as half of the dress front. My experience has shown that students presume that because only half of the dress front is shown, and since no seam allowance is indicated, that the front is cut on the fold and that the final drawing is the shape of the completed pattern. Since the bias slip dress is draped without a center front seam, an illustration showing the pattern for the entire front of the dress would be more accurate and helpful.

Overall, the fourth edition of The Art of Fashion Draping, one of the bibles of draping instruction, is a most instructive, understandable, and attractive text. It is a welcome addition for any level of draping instruction.

Nanalee Raphael is a peripatetic freelance draper who has worked in the Southwest, Midwest, and Northeast. She is currently an instructor in fashion technology at the Art Institute of Tucson.
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Author:Raphael, Nanalee
Publication:TD&T (Theatre Design & Technology)
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2012
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