Flare Drape Dress

Pattern: Drape Drape Vol. 1's Loose Flare Drape Dress No. 11
Fabric: 3 yards cotton jersey
Cost: $51

My newest Drape Drape project!

But first, the Japanese mystery of Drape Drape...

After numerous internet searches (I even looked in Japanese!) I have decided that I am the first person ever (ever!) to attempt Drape Drape Vol. 1 no. 11: Loose Flare Drape Dress. OK, probably not, but from what I can tell tell from my internet research, most people do the cover pattern (no. 4), the Drape Drape Dress (no. 5) and the Gather Drape Dress (no. 3) with a few who wander here and there. A lot of the other patterns I can't find blogged anywhere.

Of course, this posed a problem when I wanted advice on how to put the whole thing together. It also piqued my interest about the Drape Drape books in general. Is the series produced by a large pattern company or done in a small cottage industry? Is this part of a trend in Japanese sewing or the vanguard? And who is Hisako Sato, anyway? I don't even know the designer's gender! Most of my search results proved unrelated (did you know that they were thinking of draping fabric over the Japanese nuclear reactor?), but a little more investigation revealed this little snippet:

A graduate of Bunka Fashion College, Japan, Hisako Sato worked as Head of Garment Design for Muji until 1993 when she left to develop her own independent label. In 2008, she launched a new brand focusing on dress design, and she is still active as a designer today.

She is apparently also now a designer for the Raw+ label, though their shop is currently under construction.

Overall, it is interesting what a cult following these books have, yet none of the blogs and sites that talk about (and sell) these books seem to have any of the background information, and so few people have posted pics of more than a handful projects. The fact that the patterns are written in Japanese makes the whole thing an even bigger mystery to me.

And so began another adventure in drape drape...

Once again, it took me several hours to even locate, trace, and cut out the pattern pieces on tracing paper. I had originally wanted to wear this dress in a bright red woven fabric for Coachella, but making it the night before my trip turned out to not be an option. A month or so later, the pattern came up again when I was playing with my geometric stripe fabric and using Pinterest for some inspiration. I figured I'd done enough straight-across horizontal dresses, and wouldn't it be fabulous to mix it up with the unexpected things that Drape Drape makes you do? (Half unexpected because of their innovative construction, and half unexpected because I don't understand any of the directions.) Since the pattern was already partially traced out from my last attempt, I had a bit of a head-start on the project this time.

Marie Claire

As luck would have it, my research paid off in the construction of the garment (which is really why I started googling this book in the first place). Set to come out with an English version this month, there are a few English previews of Drape Drape Vol. 1 online. Lo and behold, one of the previews showed a page of directions for pattern no. 11! Even that glimpse was enough to set me on the right track, and give me some artistic freedom: because this pattern appears to be made for sheer fabrics, there are several pieces made to be facings and linings. I omitted these in the final construction in favor of bound armholes and a hem.

After the first cut, where I only had enough fabric to cut out the front and the front flap, I pinned the thing together and tried it on. It has the shape of a wrap dress without wrapping all the way around in the front. It was cool, just different than I expected. I was a little skeptical,but went with it anyway.

The only other challenge I had (as with many drape drape patterns) is the amount or raw edges to finish. Because I wasn't lining the dress, I had even more to deal with. For the hem, I sewed hem tape/ribbon to the raw edge and folded it under. Of course, I bought the cheap plastic-based ribbon, so the result is not as good (and was accidentally melted in one section). What worked really well, though, was binding the neck using a strip of the original fabric. The neck is especially interesting because the unique shape allows you to start at one spot and sew all the way around--the neck, the armholes, and the back--in a sort of spiral without stopping. This does mean, however, that if you start by sewing with the right side of the binding to the right side of the fabric, you end sewing the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the fabric. (You'll have to try it to see.)

Overall, I really like the dress. I'm even fond of the tent shape which, admittedly, is a little unflattering--maybe horizontal stripes aren't the best option here. It seems the dress is designed to be made in sheers (hence the lining), and might be more flattering in a sheer fabric with a body-hugging lining. For now, I think it also looks great with a belt or jacket over it to give it a little more shape.

Unless you're twirling, of course.

You can read my review of this pattern at PatternReview.com.


  1. Oh I love it with the belt. I can see how in tent form it would be awesome for kicking around the house and clearly twirling. It really is quite flattering with the belt.

  2. Very nice! I've traced this out (for sheer wool voile) but haven't cut it because I was waiting for English instructions XD Thanks for all your links and background info btw. I Googled Hisako ages ago and kept coming across Japanese clothing websites rather than pattern design related stuff.

    Any chance of you installing disqus? Recaptcha is really getting me down..

  3. very cool dress design, I'd never heard of the Drape Drape phenom! <3

  4. Thanks ladies!

    theperfectnose: thanks for the comment! I was actually not really aware of the authentication my site uses because it doesn't make me do it (teehee) and I agree that that whole recaptcha technology is totally annoying! I experimented some with disqus this evening but for now it isn't playing nice with my custom layout. i actually really like the way comments on your blog are laid out. is that a wordpress feature or can i get mine to look that way, too? thanks!

  5. I' just picked up Drape Drape in English and am making up #13 right now. No. 11 is on my to do list. I'd love to try it in a crisp organza. Love your version! it looks fantastic on you!

  6. oh i'm so jealous! can't wait to see your versions!

  7. Very cute, Meg!
    I've tried one pattern from a Japanese pattern book and thought I would lose my mind, BUT the books are so intriguing.
    Why don't you start a blog on deciphering these patterns? You'd really have a good thing going !! I'll be your first follower :)

  8. Loved your blog post, your dress is so cute. You did a great job with this.

  9. Wow, this is gorgeous! I saw it on burdastyle and I had to comment. I love loose, flowing clothing; it's so comfortable! You're blog's great :)


  10. Love this. You're making me want to buy the Drape Drape book in English. Looks great on you, and I really like it with the stripes.

  11. Brilliant! And I can finally open your website here in China ~! -- Isabelle ZOU

  12. This is so cute. i love your fabric choice and the ways you style it. I might just need to get that book after all...


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