How to make a draped dress

Written by jen randall
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How to make a draped dress
A sari is one style of draped dress, a look that can elongate the body of the wearer. ( Images)

A draped dress is a dress made from draped fabric. This attire style has been popular for centuries. In fact, men and women in ancient Rome and Greece all wore draped dresses. While contemporary Indian women often wear a sari, which is a type of draped dress as well. According to, draped dresses of many styles serve to elongate the wearer's figure and enhance bodily contours. It's possible to make a draped dress either by making a new dress entirely from draped fabric or by draping additional fabric onto a simple, existing dress as an enhancement.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Soft measuring tape
  • Body form or model
  • Fabric
  • Pins
  • Fabric chalk
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Strapless basic dress

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    Make a Draped Dress

  1. 1

    Take the measurements of the wearer's body, specifically the bust, torso and waist. Ideally, use a body form of the same measurements for best results. It is possible to have a person, preferably the wearer, stand as a form model; it is very difficult to do dress draping without a three-dimensional model.

  2. 2

    Based on the wearer's measurements, buy fabric. Purchase at least three to five times as much fabric as the measurements of the wearer's body. For a very elaborately draped dress such as a dress with a ruched finish layer on the bodice or for very thin, fine fabric, buy at least five times as much fabric as the measurements.

  3. 3

    Hang the fabric on and around the body form to achieve a draped dress look; draping is an artistic, unstructured style of dress design that is achieved through the natural fall of the fabric. Carefully pin the fabric into place, tucking down an additional inch for seams. Mark using fabric chalk where to have seams, darts or pleats. If needed, cut the length of the fabric in half to drape the upper and lower parts of the dress separately and then sew them together at the waist line.

  4. 4

    Carefully remove the pinned, draped dress from the form by pulling it upwards over the body form. Lay the fabric on a flat surface and find each marked place. Baste together by hand the pinned sections and pre-marked seams.

  5. 5

    Use a sewing machine to finalise the draped dress into form, adding additional accessories such as a sash, spaghetti straps (if the draped dress is strapless), jewels, buttons or additional fabric pieces.

    Modify an Existing Dress

  1. 1

    Find a simple dress such as fits the wearer well, either buying or using a pre-owned dress. Very simple, one-color sleeveless, fitted and/or mermaid-style dresses will work best to further modify with draped fabric.

  2. 2

    Buy fabric to drape onto the dress that in some way complements the existing colour. Depending on how much draping is desired, purchase at least three times the measurements of the wearer's body.

  3. 3

    Either put the dress on a body form or onto the wearers body and begin to drape the additional fabric. Consider wrapping the fabric around the waist of the dress in line with the existing waistband and let the fabric gently bubble out into a skirt cowl on either side of the dress, transforming the simple dress into a dress with skirt cowling.

  4. 4

    Secure the draped fabric carefully into place with pins, tucking in at least 1 inch of fabric for seams. When finished draping the fabric, remove the modified dress from the dress form and sew into place using a sewing machine.

  5. 5

    Add any additional flourishes such as belts, sashes, buttons, flowers, jewels or sequins.

Tips and warnings

  • Fine, thin fabrics such as silks or synthetics work best for draping.
  • Use two different colours of fabric for a more interesting look.

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