I attended Morley College’s Bias Drape weekend course in addition to my weekly Draping Course because I have very little understanding on bias drape. The course’s is not available for enrollment now but I think they hold the course every year. The class was held at the weekend for 2 days only so it would be quite intensive for students who have not done draping before. We were taught what bias is and I have summarised it in the diagram below.
Basically the straight grain is stronger than the crosswise grain because it’s being pulled by the machine when the fabric was weaved. Normally we would cut the fabric on the straight grain so the fabric falls at a uniform direction. If I rotate the fabric by 45° so the fabric is on true bias, the fabric’s threads would be in this diamond formation to give the fabric more stretch. I often see pattern instructions on hanging a bias skirt for a day or two before hemming to let the fabric ‘settle’. This is because the fabric’straight grain is pointing to one side and the weaker crosswise grain is pointing to the opposite side. One side of the hem which is on the crosswise grain would stretch more than the side with the straight grain. This was a sewing light bulb moment for me!
Now let’s go back to the class, we were given two exercises first on a bias slip dress. We used the cheapest polyester lining fabric which mimics the drape of silk satin instead of the usual cotton calico (muslin).
Here I should have waited for the dress’s hem to settle but we needed to move onto other projects. I cut off the hem by measuring a constant distance between the shortest part of the hem to the floor.
The next exercise is a crowl which can be used on the front or the back of the neckline. I tried the crowl drape on the back to create a low cut effect.
We were also shown examples of Madeleine Vionnet’s garments (1876-1975). She’s the godmother of bias drape and her design is AMAZINGLY contemporary. Look at how cool this dress is! I ordered a book about her dress yesterday so hopefully I can show more in later posts.
I just learnt that the Vionnet brand has been re-launched. Having had a quick look at their styles, they are quite different from the originals but there’re a few interesting ones such as this top which I think is cut on the bias.
I am really inspired by the class and the nature of bias so I started looking for nice vintage dresses which were draped on the bias. I found this Jean Patou’s evening dress which was made for the Theatre de la Mode exhibition. Even though the dress is half scale, the skirt is so elegant, imagine if this is in full size!
Although the course only taught us basics of bias drape, I’m now much more confident on sewing bias because I have a better understanding on how the fabric would ‘perform’! A bias cut slip dress like Colette’s Cinnamon would nice to make. Now I just need to decide whether I would sew from a pattern or from my own drape!