Drape, In the Eye of the Beholder

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If you've dived into the world of fabric you've probably heard of the term 'drape'.  You may think that weight and drape are interchangeable.  But weight and drape do have their differences.  Weight would be referring to the actual heaviness of a fabric and sometimes even referring to the thickness of a fabric.  

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So what is drape?  Drape is the fluidity or rigidity of a fabric.  It determines how a fabric hangs and folds. The more drape a fabric has the smaller the folds and the more the fabric will hang straight down. The less drape a fabric has the more stiffly it will hang and the larger the folds will appear.  So...what does that really mean practically?  If you're like me you may do better with a visual.  I decided the best way to visualize that would be to make the same shirt, same size, in 9 different fabrics.  I chose the Sahara top/dress from Bella Sunshine.  As a top it has a nice peplum to show the drape of all these fabrics.  Also if you want to dive more into the properties of these different fabrics, you can check out our blog post all about different kinds of knits, Let's Talk About Knits.

French Terry 

French terry has more of a moderate drape to it.  Not too structured, but not as drapey as some.  Depending on the content of your french terry, it also will play a part in your drape.  Anything with cotton in it will have a little more body to it.  This french terry I chose is some of our poly rayon spandex french terry.  

Cotton Modal

Cotton, like we said before, has a little more body to it.  Cotton modal and cotton spandex even though having different fabric contents to it, will lay very similarly to each other.  

Hacci

Hacci is another fabric that is moderately drape.  It gives it some body without feeling to bulky.  I always felt like hacci laid similarly to french terry.  They tend to have the same weight (of course that can change if you get a heavier weight sweater knit or french terry, but for the most part).

Rayon Spandex

Rayon spandex has a very fluid drape to it.  It will lay closer to the body and is generally best suited to garments that hang free from your body rather than form fitting.

Triblend

Triblend is another moderately draped fabric.  This is another that has some cotton in it.  Giving it a nice drape that doesn't cling to the body and also a very nice airy quality.  

Double Brushed Poly

Double brushed has more of a fluid drape.  It will lay in smaller folds along the body.  This is also a great example of how something can have a similar drape, but not the same weight as another fabric.  DBP may land in the same fluid drape category as rayon spandex, but it definitely isn't the same weight as RS.    

Modal

Modal is going to be very similar to bamboo in how they hang.   They both have a more fluid drape.  More airy and light which is why these are favorites  for warmer weather.

ITY

As one of the slinkier and dressier knits, ITY is more fluid in it's drape.  It doesn't cling to the body though, so this is a nice choice if you're looking for something with more of a flowy quality but maybe don't want the weight of a heavier knit.

Liverpool

Liverpool has a full body drape to it.  It's going to lay with a lot more structure, less folds.  Scuba and ponte are going to lay very similarly because they are also structured knits.  It's going to give you more of that 'va-voom' feeling to it.  But it's also going to be a little heavier.

There isn't such a thing as "bad" drape.  Drape is all in the eyes of the beholder.  Each fabric is better suited for certain projects and less ideal for others. Understanding the different properties of each fabric will help you better choose the best material for the results you want.

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