Here at The Crochet Project, we think that crochet gets a bad rap - seen as the "cutesy" alternative to knitting. Brooches - yes. Cushions - definitely. Blankets - oh yes. But garments? Well, we are here to reveal the secret of making awesome crochet garments...drape.
Drape is the way in which any fabric flows. Because of the way in which a crochet fabric is constructed, it can lend itself to stiffer fabric than knitting. This is great for things like bowls, baskets and amigurumi, but isn't as useful when constructing a sweater. Improving the drape of your crochet will go a long way to making garments that fit and are a pleasure to wear.
When you are looking at crochet and drape - you are aiming for a fabric where the stitches move with some independence from each other. In making things like crochet dolls or bowls, you don't want the stitches to move much - this helps the item retain its form, but with garments, the element of flow is crucial.
In order to achieve this movement you need to consider 3 things:
Without a doubt, gauge is the most critical element when creating a flowing crochet fabric. To achieve drape, stitches need to be able move, so if they are all packed tightly together, you will create a stiffer fabric. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows one can measure in 10x10cm/ 4x4inches.
Ignore what the ball bands tell you. Its not uncommon to have to go up 1 or 2 hook sizes to achieve a lovely drapey fabric - no matter what stitch you are using. If you are trying to make something with a nice flowing drape...SWATCH. Try a couple of different hook sizes with your yarn and see how it changes.
Another critical factor in drape is the yarn you are using. Silk, bamboo and alpaca fibers will create more drape in a garment than cotton or 100% wool. Lower twist yarns tend to be drapier than higher twist yarns. If you are looking to make something with lovely drape, starting with a yarn with a high silk content is a great first step.
However - while a silk yarn will have more drape than a cotton one at the same gauge, its still important to consider your gauge when you are working.
Finally, don't forget the importance of the stitches you are using. In crochet, taller stitches and stitch patterns that have chains in them will have more drape than just solid single crochet. The height and the chains allow the stitches to move more indpendently of each other.
Drape is always key to our design briefs to ensure the most wearable accessories and garments. Our designers have considered all of the above so you don't have to.