There was a question over on FI (subscription required for forum posts) about the process used in custom design. Everyone has their own method that has come about from years of experience. My process starts with a custom drape. I started doing this about a year ago because I would take an extensive list of measurements & use those to draft the toille, but always found there was a measurement or two I didn't have on hand. So I started doing a "quick drape" just to help me double check the client's body shape.
THEN, low & behold and article appears in Threads about how to do this. Dang. Can I tell you how many times I open up Threads & find an article about how to do something I already do. Jeez. Where's my ingenuity? Why don't I ever think to submit articles to Threads? The only thing to article writer did differently than my method was to start with a "poncho" made of the muslin. I was using two pieces of muslin pinned together. So I co-opted that. :-)
The question raised was: How do you drape on a real person, since you obviously can't push pins into them?
First of all, there will be no looky-looky at my seriously messy studio. I've got a plan in place for shelving that will actually hide all my crap, but haven't yet found the time to do it. So keep your eyes on the client!
Start with a length of muslin long enough to go over the body. Not sure how long that is? Take a tape measure, start at the butt, go up over the shoulder and come down to the hips in the front. Make it wide enough to cover the hips from one side to the other side. Cut a little "T" shape for the neck. I'm never too fussy about how wide this is, but if you want a more precise neckline, you're going to have to be a little careful.
First pin up the shoulder slope. Then smooth the fabric over the side of the bust enough to pull up the grain line so that it is horizontal to the floor. Pin in the side bust dart.
Next pin in the darts under the bust. This is actually a combination of two darts from what would be a traditional block, if you can get your head around that. It's the bottom bust dart AND the front skirt dart. Take in the dart all the way to just above hip level.
At hip level on this client, the darts don't end in a point. Her gown will only be fitted to an empire waist, so I really didn't need to be fussy down there with her. If I did want to make the darts end in a point, I would need to find the point where I wanted them to end (follow the dart fold all the way to the level where you want it to end, mark it with a sharpie), then swing the excess around to the waist. So there would be a horizontal line of pins going from the under bust dart to the side of the waist at the waist line. I'll try to do this on my next pin drape to explain it better (I've got one coming up in a couple of weeks, stay tuned)
Notice on my client that the points of the dart aren't exactly perfect. For me, in what I do, this isn't really necessary at this point. I use this drape only as a starting point. But if you wanted to make custom blocks that you would make more than one pattern from, you would need to get a little more fussy than I am.
Now go around to the back & pin up the back darts. You may also need to pin out a small back shoulder dart at the back of the armscye. I find this is just different with every client. If I do pin it out, I'll transfer it to a true shoulder dart later on. (putting it up angling into the shoulder seam, instead of going into the armscye). My reason for moving it is that in bridal wear, I'll end up usually cutting it out when doing the actual design.
The last thing to do is the pin up the sides. After I've got all my pins where I want them, I'll mark with a sharpie one side at the side and shoulder, unpin that, cut the shoulder apart & just let her slide out of it from the other side.
When I get to the point of laying this out to transfer to paper pattern, I'll document that as well. If I'm not clear on anything, just let me know & I'll try to explain it a little better, or take more pictures next time I do a drape.