Drape Analysis of a Balenciaga Jacket


Balenciaga, AW13, Paris.

Sometimes it is worthwhile focusing on some of the more subtle pieces of a collection and understanding how they are formed in order to learn from the way they are constructed. The following example diagrams deconstruct the pattern shapes that may have been used for this Balenciaga jacket to examine how the careful draping has been formed.

Though there is no way to know exactly the shape of the pattern that was used in the Balenciaga jacket, it is by beginning to understand how such fabric shapes are formed that we get a better understanding of the complexity of the patterns that are used to create even seemingly effortless garment shapes.


Though the diagrams below are in no way designed to encourage you to copy the Balenciaga jacket, the exercise may help you to problem solve similar shapes that you want to create in your own designs.

The best place to start when imagining a 3D garment as a 2D pattern is by finding the seam lines because this will tell you where the edges of the patterns would need to be.

The images below show the two basic shapes that represent the front of the jacket:



The image below highlights the different seams of the jacket, so that you can begin to picture the pattern pieces in relation to the actual garment:


The image below shows the progression of the jacket front panel as though it is being sewn so that you can picture how the shape of the draping is formed.

The dotted line in the image below represents the stitching line, and the border of fabric outside of the dashed line is the seam allowance.

The images track the order of the seams being sewn and shows how the front panel is rotated in on itself to create the small pocket-like draping fold at the front hip of the jacket.


You can work out things like this by yourself just using a scrap of fabric and some pins. By playing around with the fabric and reworking the shape to create small scale versions of the desired effect you will be in a better position to approach large scale drapes on the mannequin or to develop patterns through flat pattern making methods.

You will find it easier to work out the pattern shape if you don’t worry about the seam allowance or dart allowances at first, but just pin the fabric into shape as though your pins are forming the stitching line of the seams.

Once you have the fabric pinned into shape, use a pen or pencil to mark the position of the seam lines onto the fabric. You can then unpin the fabric and lay it flat and the pen lines will mark out the shaping of the pattern pieces that you will need.

Once you have the basic shape of the pattern in mind you will find it far easier to rework the pattern shape into other variations, or to alter the shape of the pattern to perfect and refine the shape.

Catwalk images from Vogue.co.uk» diagrams by The Cutting Class»

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