What is Drape? | Cusick Drape Test

Drape is the term used to describe the way a fabric hangs under its own weight. It has an important bearing on how good a garment looks in use. The draping qualities required from a fabric will differ completely depending on its end use, therefore a given value for drape cannot be classified as either good or bad. Knitted fabrics are relatively floppy and garments made from them will tend to follow the body contours. Woven fabrics are relatively stiff when compared with knitted fabrics so that they are used in tailored clothing where the fabric hangs away from the body and disguises its contours. Measurement of a fabric s drape is meant to assess its ability to do this and also its ability to hang in graceful curves.

Cusick Drape Test

In the drape test the specimen deforms with multi-directional curvature and consequently the results are dependent to a certain amount upon the shear properties of the fabric. The results are mainly dependent, however, on the bending stiffness of the fabric.
Drape Test
In the test a circular specimen is held concentrically between two smaller horizontal discs and is allowed to drape into folds under its own weight. A light is shone from underneath the specimen as shown in Fig. 10.4 and the shadow that the fabric casts, shown in Fig. A, is traced onto an annular piece of paper the same size as the unsupported part of the fabric specimen.

The stiffer a fabric is, the larger is the area of its shadow compared with the unsupported area of the fabric. To measure the areas involved, the whole paper ring is weighed and then the shadow part of the ring is cut away and weighed. The paper is assumed to have constant mass per unit area so that the measured mass is proportional to area. The drape coefficient can then be calculated using the following equation:

The higher the drape coefficient the stiffer is the fabric. At least two specimens should be used, the fabric being tested both ways up so that a total of six measurements are made on the same specimen. There are three diameters of specimen that can be used:

• A 24cm for limp fabrics; drape coefficient below 30% with the 30cm
• B 30cm for medium fabrics;
• C 36cm for stiff fabrics; drape coefficient above 85% with the 30cm sample. 
Drape test top view of draped fabric
It is intended that a fabric should be tested initially with a 30cm size specimen in order to see which of the above categories it falls into. When test specimens of different diameter are used, the drape coefficients measured from them are not directly comparable with one another. Figure B shows a drape tester fitted with a video camera and computer for instantaneous measurement of the drape coefficient. 
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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