The Art of Dress Modelling

‘The Art of Dress Modelling : Shape within Shape’ by Lily Silberberg and Martin Shoben is a more recent purchase, mine is the 1998 edition. Its a slim paperback, about A4 format.

As you’d expect from these authors, its packed with step by step illustrations, covers the essentials of fabrics for toiles and toile evaluation in a couple of pages, then bangs straight in with detailed work on styles. The style pages have a fashion sketch  illustrating what your aiming for, text and drawings for the process.

Wonky scan of ‘Wrap over bias cut dress with front drape’

silbshoband facing page


The book has three main sections, the first section has fourteen styles (includes the one above), next section is Bridalwear, last is Basic Modelling skills.

The first section features designs chosen ‘because they have very strong interesting silhouettes’,  skirt, dress and trouser styles. Like this Dhoti with displaced seam. silbshob3or this great skirt!

silbshob4The bridal section limits itself to adding elements specific to bridal wear, with some work on trains, veils, bows and surface decoration. While the examples aren’t extensive, there’s enough there to spring your own design from.

The third section on basic skills has so many little drawings of the stages that its the next best thing to having your tutor looking over your shoulder. There’s a useful page on evaluating your toile too, what to look out for when you think its looking ok, but aren’t quite sure if it will pass muster when its transferred to fabric and stitched up.

For example the paragraph ‘ Has the cloth been over-stressed in modelling?’ lists the tell tale signs, directs you to an illustration , and gives a probable cause – stretching the fabric horizontally when forming darts.

There’s a pattern to make a padded arm for your dress form, so you can work  the sleeve designs, several collar examples, strapless bodices, skirts and dart manipulation.

Jeni has a post about draping from this book. If you’ve never draped on the stand before and feel you need extra visuals Academie de Poitiers has a series of instructional videos, which are brilliant.  Don’t be put off if you don’t speak french, its pretty clear what’s going on without the commentary. Here’s an inspirational video from Dior too, on working from sketch to toile.

Other news – no sewing since the 3 dress marathon, but I’ve cut some patterns – a jacket with a (I hope delicious) portrait collar, a sheath dress cut in my size and drafted up in a range of sizes and cup sizes, a top with a pleated cowl, and a jacket for me with an asymmetric front fastening and collar.

I messed up my hands with tree-related work (don’t ever hurt a tendon in your fingers by the way, boy does it hurt) and haven’t turned out any toiles yet. They’re getting better thanks to my new bionic gloves. This sounds like a plug but I’m not affiliated in any way to the makers or suppliers of these. Its just that every time I put them on I bless the little cotton socks of the designer, so if you too sew and do ridiculously heavy gardening you might want to try them.


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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3 Responses to The Art of Dress Modelling

  1. seweverythingblog says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve never draped, but am fascinated by the process. Especially enjoyed the Dior video; but what are the lines that the draping artist is adding to the sketch before beginning to drape? Just wondering…


  2. Pella says:

    It looks to me as though she is making sure that she retains the proportions of the original sketch in her toile. Most of us would probably eyeball the sketch and decide where the different design elements come on the figure, but she seems to be taking a more scientific approach. That’s my guess, what’s yours?


  3. Draping and pattern modaration I loved the most during my study. I could browse for hours though books like this. Maybe another book to my sewing library – another addicition …..


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