Designers often work in small scale when designing garments that require expensive fabrics or a lot of fabric. Working in full scale can be daunting needless to say any scale smaller which is more complex and requires meticulous painstaking precision throughout the construction process. Dior’s most recent collection was crafted by hand on the garment stand by accomplished designer pattern cutters.
For the Dior Autumn-Winter 2020-2021, Haute Couture collection Marie Grazia unveiled the exquisite scaled-down fairytale fantasy miniature version of the 37-piece collection to fit a mannequin standing 55cm tall, approximately 1/3 scale as well as full-sized versions which showcased the craftsmanship of each ensemble.
The creation of miniature haute couture designs pays homage to Le Théâtre de la Mode exhibited in the mid-1940s with small-scale fashion mannequins by French couturiers that travelled between Europe and America. The detail and craftsmanship are truly amazing.
Quarter scale miniature couture samples from 1940 and 50.
I started working on a full, 1/2 and 3/4 scale garment stand at fashion college and continued at evening classes straight after my final year at college, I made women’s knit and evening wear garments for my fashion portfolio.
After that, I became hooked and stuck with the full and half-scale, because any scale smaller than this is difficult to manoeuvre the fabric pieces under the sewing machine foot.
The half-scale is mainly used for educational purposes, it’s great for getting practice with draping, proportions and predicting the behaviour of fabric. Students find using a half-scale which is equivalent to a standard size 12 stand less intimidating when first learning.
Draping a simple or complex design in full scale can take up yards of fabric. By scaling down to half-scale this reduces the amount of fabric and time it takes to drape your 3D design. Very useful if you’re working to a deadline.
Madeleine Vionnet who became one of the leading designers in Paris between 1919-1939 draped simple styles in full size using chiffon, silk or Moroccan on life-size models and small scale on miniature dolls.
Not only is a half-scale garment stand ideal for saving on fabric, time and budget it’s also ideal when you’ve got limited workspace. The scaled stands vary in price with each company; some have the vertical guidelines incorporated in the cover, detachable arms, head, pin-able with a wooden or metal stand.
When exploring your options for a scaled or full-size garment stand might I suggest you look at all the options available i.e half-scale with the vertical guidelines incorporated in the cover that way all you need to do is use cotton or sticky styling tape to mark on the position of the bust and hipline. You can also use the styling tape to mark out your style lines once you get going with 2D or 3D pattern making.
A metal-based stand is usually heavy and will keep the stand firm to a certain extent, a wooden based stand is much lighter and tends to move around when you’re draping. I like to use an F-clamp to attach the flat base of the stand to my pattern cutting table. That way I have greater control to drape with both hands.
Garment stands are essential for draping and pattern cutting especially after you’ve made a toile or garment. If your working with two or more sizes i.e. 12 and 14, purchase the smaller size stand and make a padded torso shell to the size 14 measurements. Place the torso on top of the size 12 stand and start draping.
Make sure your garment stand purchase is a wise investment, cover them after use, they will eventually get worn and need recovering. If you have a garment stand that’s worn K&L offer a service to recondition your stand.
I studied two courses in fashion design and textile machine embroidery for four years at London College of Fashion in the ’80s and learnt pattern cutting and draping using Kenneth and Lindsell garment stands. I taught students at various levels on fashion courses in higher education using a range of garment stands.