I’ve written about the process of drafting a skin tight pattern to duplicate your body and using it as the basis for creating a custom dress form. Now that you’ve invested hours in perfecting a draft of your own body, what can you use it for?
Here’s an image that was posted on one of the dressmaking FaceBook groups I follow. It’s a button front Chanel style; looks fairly simple but it has several design elements that elevate it to couture level.
The shoulders are slightly extended with a squared shape. I’ve marked what looks like the sleeve seam in yellow. It’s narrower than a standard shoulder and the extended shoulder width comes from clever shaping of the sleeve. The collar sits away from the neck and looks like it has been worked into shape using ironwork rather than being cut to shape. The shaping appears to be concealed by princess seams which end close to the neck rather than mid-shoulder, as many princess seams do. Moving the princess seam closer to the neck allows the horizontal lines in the boucle fabric to carry across the front chest into the sleeve as one unbroken line.
I’ll walk through the steps I use to recreate this dress. Start with your moulage draft. This draft is done to half scale and fits my half-scale mannequin. Working in half scale is easier to show the entire draft and design yet is large enough to demonstrate details.
This will be a slim fitting dress so I’ll add minimum wearing ease to the draft. The changes are shown in red.
Next I’ll relocate the princess seam to end near the neck on both front and back. I’ll also narrow the shoulder to compensate for the width added by the altered sleeve. Deciding how wide to make the finished shoulder is a personal design choice. I want this to be slightly extended yet not look like football padded shoulders. I decided to make the shoulder 3/4 inch narrower. I’ll add about 1 inch to the shoulder in the sleeve. The added width will be supported by a small shoulder pad.
Moving the princess seam closer to the neck is important as it allows the horizontal lines in the boucle fabric to span the upper chest in an unbroken line. Here’s how the pattern will match if the princess seam ends at mid-shoulder and what happens if the princess seam gets shifted. Additional shaping and perfect pattern matching can be achieved in the side panel by coaxing it into shape using heat and steam.
Sample dress on the mini-mannequin. I’ve drawn horizontal lines to demonstrate how the fabric will match. I use Osnaburg fabric as it replicates the boucle fairly well. The weave is looser than ordinary muslin and can be shaped much like a boucle.
Views of the shoulder, sleeve and collar. Also one shot of how the horizontal lines would mis-match if the princess seam had not been repositioned.
The collar is cut straight on the crossgrain and shaped with heat and steam into the necessary curve. I’ve created a collar stand, attached the outer collar and positioned it so it doesn’t hug the neck tightly.
Height has been added to the sleeve cap and darts added to produce the extended, squared shape. Here’s how to draft the sleeve:
The diagram on the left shows the armseye of the dress. On the right is a short, one-piece sleeve drafted to fit that armseye. Notice the length of the back and front seams are the same for both armseye and sleeve head: no sleeve cap ease is wanted for this alteration.
I’ll raise the sleeve cap 3/4 inch and dart out the resulting ease. I’ve positioned the sleeve cap darts one inch either side of the shoulder point. Draw a horizontal line connecting the front and back underarm point. Draw a vertical line from the shoulder point to intersect the underarm line at right angles. Connect the dart points to the point where the two guidelines intersect.
Cut open the pattern as shown. Raise the center of the sleeve cap 3/4 inch tapering to nothing at the underarms. The top of the sleeve cap will spread open. Position the triangle of original pattern section midway to divide the sleeve cap opening in half. The original sleeve cap shape is shown in red, new line in black. Draw two darts the width of the opening and 3/4 inch (the amount the sleeve cap was raised) long. Measure the length of the seam (front and back) and compare to the armseye. If the seam line of the sleeve cap is longer, increase the width of the darts slightly to compensate. The necessary ease has been added by the darts and extra ease will alter the “squared” shape of the finished sleeve cap.
Crease the paper and fold the darts closed. I fold both darts towards center. The original sleeve cap line will need to be smoothed out as shown. Also note that the darts will create a fold just beyond the original seam line. In this draft, that distance is 1/4 inch. This is what will create the straight line for the “square” shoulder shape.
Leaving the darts folded, cut along the new seam line. Your completed sleeve pattern should look like this.
I’ll tackle the collar and collar stand in full scale in the next post. Stay well and happy sewing.
32 thoughts on “How to Use Your Moulage”
Great information, clear photos and well written.
Thanks for the feedback.
Thank you for your detailed explanations.
Thanks for reading.
Fabulous tutorial! Thank you.
Thank you Cindy.
Thanks for the detailed breakdown of the process – very clearly explained 🙂
Thank you. Glad you found this helpful.
Thank you Mary. Your post makes this process very easy to understand 🙂
Thanks for the feedback.
This is so exciting! Now that I have my moulage and dress form, I can’t wait to work with you on drafting. I just got my paper mache supplies to make my half scale dress form next. I’d love to see your fabric in the next post too.
Thanks Connie. You’ll love doing this.
I love this. many thanks!
Wonderful lesson in pattern drafting!
Thank you Kathy.
This is fascinating . Thank you so much for doing this for us . You are very generous
Thanks Mem. Enjoy.
Thank you enormously for providing this superb information – I have fallen head over heals for this particular Chanel collar (after admiring it for a few years now) and I’m really looking forward to your next post about its drafting and construction. Would you be able to also include some information about the actual shaping of the collar once it is sewn? I’ve tried to copy this look once or twice but can’t get it right. Like others, I’m really grateful for your generosity.
Thank you so much for this! The bit on considering the check pattern of the pattern especially! I really hope you do more posts like these:) Can I ask which method you used to draft your moulage please?
I’ve devised my own drafting system. I studied multiple methods and came up with what works for me. Thanks.
Hello Mary, can you make a new article with all the basic pattern we need to make clothes, with pdf like you did for the arm ? Thanks
Any pattern needs to be drafted or adjusted to fit a particular person. The arm form I show doesn’t require fitting and can be adjusted for different bicep widths. There are many other sources for basic patterns. What I offer is how to do custom drafting to fit your individual body. Thanks for reading.
Dear Mary, your work and tuition is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge Please do you teach how to make Moulage?
thank you very much
Thanks for reading. Ive send details in an email.
Really great tutorial!
This is amazing! Will you be able to post the sewing/construction process of the garment as well? Thank you!
Yes. Posts about the construction will follow. Thank you.
Very interesting. Thank you. I am currently searching the web for good carbon tracing paper, and it seems Susan Khalje is recommending the waxed tracing paper. The postage is quite horrendous and I am wondering if you are able to suggest a locally sourced version.
Thank you so much for providing the link to this fantastic tutorial. I could look at your work all day as I can’t deny admiring your detailed instructions, diagrams and the exquisitely executed garments that result from all of your meticulous and painstaking work.