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Make Your Own Draped Velvet Dress

This can be a somewhat daunting project, especially if you’ve never attempted anything like it before, but the results can be stunning and dramatically beautiful if you can achieve the effect you were looking for. Velvet is the kind of fabric that can make almost any piece of clothing look great, so if you misfire a little bit on this, you can at least expect some help from the natural appeal of the fabric itself. You may find some shortcuts or some more advantageous steps when you try this for yourself, but here are some basic steps to creating the draped velvet dress of your dreams.

Initial steps

First, you have to pin the velvet fabric to your dress form so that you can get a shape that really appeals to you. For instance, you may like the center gathered in, with a plunging neckline, and off-the-shoulder draped straps. Then you should pin some cotton to the reverse side of the dress form so that you can achieve the same shape on the opposite side.

Transfer this on to paper, and add in allowances for the seams, so that you have a pattern which can be used for your base. You will need to create a relatively stiff base layer which keeps things in place, and supports the overall shape you’ve setup. For your base layer, use stiff quilting cotton and cut each piece four times, which will give a thickness to the base of two layers of quilting cotton. That level of thickness makes it better able to support the dress, and will allow you to insert the boning between fabric layers, so there’s no need to sew in external boning channels.

Middle stage

Once you’ve added in all the 1/4″ plastic bones required, you can turn the neckline inward. Then sew facings into the arm openings and sew external boning channels on either side of the arm openings. Next, sew the side seams up, allowing an inch or so for the seams. During this whole process, you can expect a little bit of shifting from the velvet material, so it’s a good idea to try and sew everything together right the first time, to avoid the need for multiple passes, which can get a little bit frustrating.

Finish your velvet dress

When you get to the point where you can try on the bodice, you may actually have to pin the dress to the dress form to make any adjustments that need to be made. It’s fairly likely that the dress won’t naturally fit the dress form well enough to make your alterations, so be prepared to actually pin it to the dress form before proceeding. Identify the alterations you need to make in order to complete the dress, and sew these into the final version. Voila – you have a beautiful draped velvet dress, all of your own making!

Making a Draped Velvet Dress, Part One

Making a Draped Velvet Dress, Part Two

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