The Raglan Alteration: Suddenly I’m Draping

You probably thought I was hilarious, but I was so relieved that my alteration to LH5205 worked as I expected.  I’m serious.  It’s one thing to think and plan another to see your plans mature and produce the expected results.  It gave me the courage to continue altering LH5205 to a draped neckline.


But courage doesn’t mean immediate results.  I traced the successful front (better to work with a copy so I can always go back to the original); slashed and spread; and taped and folded. And folded. Smoothed and folded. Sigh, tissue paper just doesn’t behave the same as fabric.  The tissue would not drape. It would peak, crunch, flop over, but not drape. It took me about an hour to realize that I needed either to proceed on blind faith and cut a garment based on my tissue or I needed to advance to draping.   I never planned to drape a garment.  I’ve read much about draping.  I admire greatly those who drape the fabric onto the dressform and create clothing.  But it was not a skill I thought I had the patience to try and perfect.



None-the-less, that’s the choice I made.  I rustled through the stash and found a 1 yard cut of knit fabric that would be perfect for a summer tank top but was needed instead for this immediate educational experience. I didn’t cut a full front. Rather, I cut a front from about 1″ under the armscye, around the curve and then straight up about 15″.  My front from the armscye to the neckline is roughly 7 inches.  I thought I needed about 2″ extra for each pleat, 3 pleats = 6″ plus the original 7 about 13 inches.  But I’d rather have too much fabric at the beginning than too little so I cut straight up from the armscye curve for 15 inches.  and then straight across for the neckline.  I pinned this hot mess to Mimie (dressform) and began draping.  I pleated and folded. Turned the pleats up, down and boxed them.


At one point I realized that this cotton knit was not going to behave exactly like the target fabric.  However, the draping was going well. So I cut the back, both sleeves and a weird front.  I wasn’t afraid of working with the target fabric.  I purchased the fabric only after much indecision.  It was an ITY in colors I liked with shapes I liked but I didn’t like the overall effect of the final fabric. Funny, I didn’t like it but I was attracted to it??? At the time, I purchased only enough for a short sleeve T-shirt.  Now I decided this was the perfect fabric to use.  I wouldn’t really mind if it turned into a wadder. But if it turned out wearable, I wouldn’t really object either.  The weird front?  Well from the armscye down to the hem is exactly the same as the original pattern piece.  The curve of the armscye was cut and then I cut straight up. Wish I’d taken a picture. Oh well.


Having already spent over an hour draping the cotton knit fabric, the  I found the ITY quick and easy to fold into the desired drape.


I pinned securely and then moved it back to my cutting table.  At the cutting table I aligned each side back up with the pattern piece and trimmed.



Oh, I’d already stitched the side seams and the back to the sleeves.  Once the front was draped and trimmed, it was 2 short seams and boom done. OK not quite, because I added a neck band a la regular T-shirt.  I had planned that all along.  By planning to finish with a separate band, I didn’t need to fuss with extra fabric to be folded and stitched into place.


I did want a square neckline and for that I used a little trick learned long ago.  I stitched my band to the neckline without worrying about mitering the corners.  When the neckband was completely stitched, I folded the corners and straight stitched on the back side at a 90 degree angle.  (Also wish I photoed this.  A picture would make so much more sense).  My completed garment drapes more at center front than anticipated.  Maybe it’s the extra weight of the band.  Maybe it’s the fabric.  I’m not really sure but I didn’t want it dropping down as far as it did so later (and not shown here) I stitched another 90 degree triangle in the center front of the band turning this from a square  neckline into a modest sweetheart neckline.


This drape, like many others, deserves play time.  I mean, me, standing in front of the mirror and arranging the folds of fabric.  It can be slightly different each time it is worn.


I’m pleased with the final top (I’ve already worn it) but I do recognize that I did not duplicate Butterick 5525.  For one thing, the pleats on  B5525 are angled downwards where mine are horizontal.  Also the angle of the raglan sleeve of B5525 is different from LH5205.  That’s in addition to the other difference I described above.  But I’m pleased.  I think I’ve gotten the feel, the essence of the garment in a neckline depth that I can wear comfortably.


I’m not trashing B5525. I won’t make it with the long sleeves. But I would wear it during the summer with short sleeves. I’m happy though to have the same flavor to wear in different weather.