posted 13 Sept 2019
Do you ever wonder why some fabrics drape so well while others always seem so boxy and stiff? This is an especially important consideration for saree wearers as getting a good drape is an essential part of making the saree look elegant and composed instead of puffy. Well a lot of this has to do with the way the fibers in the fabric are arranged.
Drape is defined as the ability of a fabric to form gentle folds under its own weight and is considered essential for a garment such as a saree which involves folds both in the pleat area as well as the pallu.
Fabrics can be woven with a wide range of stiffness depending on how freely the fibers in the yarn are able to move. Fabrics woven from thick coarse yarns are less drape-able as their fibers are twisted tightly. However, garments made with loosely twisted yarn, tend to have more drape. Similarly, sarees made from filament yarn also have good drape as the yarn remains flexible in all directions.
Fibers which provide more structure
Tightly spun fibers which are shorter and crimped provide the most structure. Examples are wool, felts and polyester crepes. Fabrics made from these fibers are ideal for structured garments such as jackets, trousers and coats.
Fibers which provide more drape
Loosely spun fibers with a thinner yarn provide more drape. In addition these fibers are often longer and straighter which allows them to be more flexible, lending a beautiful drape to the garment.
How to fix a saree with a bad drape
1. Wash thoroughly. This will help to remove any residues or stiffening agents which were used on the yarn during the weaving process. This is especially true for cotton sarees which are generally heavily starched. The starch makes the yarn more rigid and strong, which makes it easy to weave, however it also makes the fiber unflexible leading to a boxy drape.
2. Use a fabric softener or hair conditioner to loosen up the fibers. These products often coat the yarn in fibers in a smooth layer which makes it easier for the yarn to glide, leading to a better drape.