The Front View Croquis

The 10-heads front view croquis

The front view croquis is not very exciting.  She has little attitude and no pose to speak of.  But this 10-heads croquis is the easiest one to trace over and use for quick sketches of your ideas.  Since you do not have to deal with a pose and attitude, you can concentrate on the details of the garment.  The 10-head croquis is the popular size used today.  The 10 1/2, 11 or 12 head croquis is very elongated and better suited to someone who likes to handle a larger sketch.  I hope you enjoy using this croquis.  She may be reused and circulated freely.  Please provide a link back to this posting.

I show a resulting sketch in the next section.

I uploaded the full size scan so the detail lines are visible. 

Sketching over a croquis

You do not need expensive art supplies to start fashion sketching your ideas with a croquis.  The most important things to have are a good light and, if possible, a drawing table.  If you do not have a drawing table, you can improvise by using a smooth wooden board which you can place over a book so that it tilts towards you.

I buy my tracing paper, #6, #2, #HB2 pencils, erasers, paper clips and other supplies at my local 99 cent store.  Graph paper is also very helpful if you can handle looking at all the little squares.  It is a great aid in keeping lines straight and ensuring accuracy of details like darts and pockets.

As soon as you remove the sketch from the croquis you get a good idea of the combination of elements will work or not.  Here you can see the hairstyle I sketched is not appropriate for the Chinese style dress in the sketch.  I also thought that the drop shoulder short sleeves might look nice but would impede movement of the arm.  I wanted to find something else so I kept sketching…

I ended up with something different than what I started with but am happy with the development.  The short kimono sleeves are comfortable and balance out the sheath skirt of this two piece dress.  Or it could be a couture blouse with skirt designed to look like a one piece dress.

To add interest you can add a sense of texture to the sketch and create the look of a rendering of a fabric.  This is a shortcut that helps further the idea.  Here I used a paper doily put under the tracing paper.  I used a crayon to color over the sketch.  Only a little of the surface impression was made so I’d have to find something better.  From experience I’ve learned that sandpaper, wickerware chairs, thick netting and other bumpy surfaces have the potential to create an interesting look when colored over.  The key is to keep the pattern small so that the pattern doesn’t overwhelm the small scale of the whole sketch.


Fashion Sketching for you…Meet the RetroGlam Croquis

Naomi of Spare Room Style and Norma of She Sews You Know provided constructive comments on the posting of a line drawing of my dress for the 1930s Sew-along.  During our exchange I mentioned that croquis are very useful for working out the ideas we all have in our imaginations when it comes to our sewing and designing process.

To make a successful sketch it’s a good idea to be aware of the body underneath the clothing.  A croquis provides that visual element when you sketch.  The croquis is a rough representation of the body in a particular pose.  In the pose is infused a little attitude, too.  It helps prompt you when drawing to add a sense of life to the drawing.

These little croquis I’m posting may be circulated and reused as needed.  All I ask is a link back to this posting.  To use the croquis, print it out.  Then use paper clips to place the lightest tracing paper you can get over it.  Use very, very sharp #2 pencils and a ruler to sketch the garment over the croquis.  I’ve provided the waistline and princess lines for the upper body.  Along these lines are placed vertical seams and darts.  If you need to lengthen the seam below the waist just continue it to the hem.

To better discern the key lines, mark them off in colored pencil as follows:

–Center Front.
–The Princess lines also serve as your vertical dart placement lines.
–Waistline at the 3″ line of the scan.
–Apex is a 1/8″ above the 2 1/4″ line of the scan.
–Hip line is at the 3 3/4″ line of the scan.  You can raise that a little higher if you want.

For horizontal darts use all three figures to get a better idea of where the placement looks best in relationship to the entire torso.  This is especially helpful when figuring out the starting point for a French dart.

Since the croquis are in motion your sketch should take into consideration how your design will look when you wear it.  What  is the fabric like?  Will it fall softly?  Will it flare slightly or will the flares be very pronounced?  By sketching you can get a better awareness of what you are seeking in the finished garment.

The Center Front line ruins right down the center of each figure.  If you are drawing a blouse, you place the buttonholes and buttons along this line but do not draw the line itself in your sketch.  A line is drawn about 1/8″ to the right on these little figures to indicate the extension from center front.

If you have any other questions about using a croquis please put them into the comment section and we can discuss this further.

It is not necessary to draw the body when you’re working out your fashion ideas.  I have created some very interesting effects by drawing hairstyles, bracelets, gloves, shoes and the finished outfit without drawing in the head, arms, legs and the rest of the body.  The result is very edgy and forces you to pay attention to how all the elements look.  The distraction of a cute figure is not present to take away from the evaluation of what you are trying to bring to life.

Enjoy your adventures and I hope your awareness and abilities advance.  The original file is 11 1/2″ wide by 8 1/2″ high.  I included the measurements because I’ve been told there is a way to increase the image in increments if your download isn’t exactly the correct size.

Please note:  The feet are drawn for shoes with high heels.  To lower the foot you have to redraw it.  That means for the side and front views you draw a wedge over the current foot and then work out the lower position of the heel.  Then redraw the rest of the foot.  This also involves redrawing the lower leg to keep proportions correct.




1930s Sew-along with Norma: line sketch of the dress

Naomi of Spare Room Style brought up a good point about the photos of the completed dress.  All the details get lost in the print of the fabric.  At her request I’m uploading a pencil sketch I hope will make the details clear.


Details of front of the dress

Bust darts from center of front shoulder to 1″ above apex of bust.
V-neckline with interfacing and facing on inside, bound with bias trim slip stitched into place.
Bodice extends about 2-3″ below widest part of the hip line.  On the Misses Size 4 this is a length about 13″ below the waist.

Details of back of the dress

Center back seam.
Slot zipper application (hand sewn with running stitches).


Cut with center front and center back on lengthwise grain.
Two flares each side of center front and center back.


Fitted sleeve.
Vertical dart running from wrist up to elbow.
Sleeve finished with hand sewn bias binding at wrist.
Somewhere between 5 to 9 buttons to be placed along vertical dart line.


In planning stages.

Pattern Notes

A basic chemise pattern is used for the bodice of the dress.
–Slight shaping was applied from underarm down to end of bodice.  This is not a straight, tubular shape.
–The width at the hipline is widest to accommodate movement and the need for enough fabric so that the dress can be comfortable when the belt is worn.
–The wider the hip line is creates a need for the flares to be slightly wider.  The flares for the size 4 will have a little less depth than the flares for a size 6, 8 or 10.  It is a matter of preserving the overall proportions of the dress.








Coming soon…a new dress form, shaped like me!

Naomi at SpareRoomStyle made a request this morning that got me to seriously thinking.  She asked to see a photo of my 1920s dress on a person.  Up until this request I was mainly using Mary Ann, my size 4 dress form, as the means to get my groove back in terms of sewing and patternmaking.  I have passed from a size 4 a while back and now am between a 4 and a 6.  I prefer my new body shape since it’s much healthier and curvier even though it puts me into that strange place where a woman is one size on top and another on the bottom.  Still it’s so much better than having my bust darts cave in or the skirt hang a bit below the butt.  Clothes look better when a person has a healthy body weight.

I started this blog back in 2013, about 18 months after my Mom passed on.  At that point I had been away from my sewing machine and full-scale pattern drafting for almost 20 years.  To give my Mom the attention she needed and bring in the money to keep the household going I had to let go of many personal hobbies.  So that I didn’t go completely off the deep  end by the loss of my full scale sewing, I took to drafting 1:6 scale patterns for 10 3/4″ dolls and hand sewing the dresses for them.  Since 2013 I’ve gradually gotten my touch and sensibility back.  I had planned to have photos of my size 4 outfits taken on an amateur model so I could have a portfolio.  Although I can fit into the size 4 outfits, my hips and waist measurements are larger than a size 4.  The results is that proportionally the fall of the garment is not so good below the waist.

After thinking about how much even an amateur model and photographer would cost I started looking into how much a custom made dress form would cost.  I have been saving for this next phase and have decided to get the form instead.  I will now be able to draft patterns and fit them on my sized form as well as the size 4.  I do not consider this redundant because it offers me more opportunities to compare the differences between standard and custom sizing in many areas.  Plus, I now get to take an occasional photo of myself when I have completed something I really want.

My next 1930s project will still go forward as planned for a Misses Size 4 since it takes some time for a custom form to be hand made.  Then there will be the making and fitting of a toile for myself.  When my Mom was alive she did all the little things like pinning the back, taking the photos that we later evaluated for fit, helping me with colors and giving me the benefit of her very discerning eye and sensibility.  Having a custom made dress form won’t take her place but what I learned from her can be applied since I can step back and look at my form from a distance.

Wish me luck.  I have an appointment at Andy’s Forms for this Saturday at 10 to get measured and discuss what else my form should have.  I think she should have a butt and an arm.  I seriously think it will help with fitting and draping for future projects.  The estimate for just the form is under $600 which is within what I’ve been saving for.  To me it’s worth the investment.  I don’t need to go away on a fancy vacation.  My happy time off will be sewing, draping and drafting for the new form.  When she arrives we can decide on a name for her.





1930s Sew-along with Norma: Dress finished, belt next!


To all my blog friends, readers and subscribers.  A big thank you for following, advising, correcting and encouraging me during this year long journey from conception to creation for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma.  I am happy to report the construction of the dress is completed.  The project, though, is not.  I still have to make the belt.  And that is the element that will transform this late 1920-early 1930ish chemise into an attractive dress.

I’m thinking of making fabric covered buttons in the same green fabric that the belt will be made of.  There would be five buttons along the vertical dart of each sleeve to create the look of of a buttoned closure.  Right now I’m not sure.  Further experimentation will show if this will work or not.

Here are progress photos of the completed dress along with construction details I learned along the way.  Once the belt is completed the dress will get a professional hand pressing.

Completed dress

The vertical bust darts originating at the center of the front shoulder help keep the chemise shape straight.  I have never worked with this kind of dart before but will consider it again should I make a dress or blouse where a straight side seam is used.  It provides a nice flow to the fabric over the bust line.  This kind of dart can also be transformed into tucks or gathers over the bust.

The vertical dart in the sleeve affects the way it looks from the back.  It creates a forward movement from the elbow down.  The sleeve has a nice fit around the wrist but is not tight.  The vertical dart can be worked into an opening that closes with ball buttons and fabric loops.  I’d like to use this sleeve again.

The flounce is on the lengthwise grain at center front and back.  The side seams go off onto the bias.  Even though the rayon faille is very lightweight, the extra weight of the fabric from the flounce made it slightly heavier than the tubular shaped bodice of the dress.

I found that rayon faille is a great fabric to work with for simple styles that float and drape around the body.  To get the effect I wanted for this dress a little control was needed.  I decided to improvise and created lightweight stays out of lace hem tape.

The lace stays for darts and seams

To keep the bust darts positioned and facing towards center front, I hand stitiched a length of Wrights Flex-Lace hem tape onto each dart inside the stitching line.  This was done before pressing and sewing to the back bodice at the shoulder line.  Two rows of tiny running stitches were used.

After joining the flounce to the bodice I noticed that there was a slight tendency on the bodice to look like the joining line was going to sag.  To remedy that and prevent stretching, I encircled the joining seam above the stitching line with Wrights Flexi-Lace hem tape.  A row of tiny running stitches above the sewing line and near the edge of the joining seam were used.  Then the seam was pressed up towards the bodice.

The hem tape was awful to work with.  It is Wrights Soft and Easy hem tape but I found it anything but that.  Despite being washed and softened and steamed before use, it crinkled no end when applied to the circular hem.  I will not be using it again.  The plus side of using it is that is provided a nice weight at the hemline.  From the right side the flares hold their place beautifully so I consider it a happy outcome.  Still that rippling and crinkling get to me.

More Wright’s Flexi-Lace was used along the vertical sleeve dart before it was pressed towards the center vertical grain of the sleeve.  The bonus which the stay provides is that there will be more support for the buttons if I decide to sew them along the dart line to create the look of a button closure on the sleeve.

I also used Flexi-Lace along the inside of the seam where the zipper was hand sewn.  It provided the right support for all the hand stitching which followed:  running stitches for the zipper, another row of running stitches to the inside tape along the seam and vinally the hand overcasting of the seam.

Since rayon faille is so twisty and lightweight, I found that the flounce had a tendency to move inward when placed on the dress form.  I wanted the side seam to flare outward so I used a 1 1/2″ wide strip of soft lace hem tape which was stitched over the completed side seam of the flounce on each side.  One row of running stitches that attached the lace only to the seams was used.  The lace stay was applied after sewing the flounce and before attaching it to the bodice.

To keep the side and shoulder seams of the bodice and the seams of the sleeves flat I used lace stays on each seam before sewing the seam itself.  Near the stitching line I used a running stitch.  At the edge I hand overcast the rayon faille and lace together.

1930s Sew-along with Norma: Using hem tape

Update:  Hemming the 1930s styled dress

My dress for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma is coming into the home stretch.  There are many reasons why it has taken me almost a year to actualize this style.  First, my full-time job keeps me very busy and some weekends I’m not up to the level of attention fine dressmaking requires.  Another reason is that when you draft your own patterns it’s a very big adventure.  It takes time to learn how what you see in your imagination will eventually play out with the pattern, muslin and fashion fabric.  Sometimes there are such bad flops along the way it is better to start anew with the hard earned knowledge gained from the mistake.

I have learned so much from this project that I plan to do another 1930s influenced style after the dress is finished.  In that project I hope to create a combination of modern and period techniques based on what I learned from the 1930s challenge created by Norma.  I’m very reluctant to skip along to a 1950s style project since I would lose the awareness and sensitivity gained from this year long journey into 1930s sewing land.

After the flounce was sewn into the bodice gravity not only worked on the hem, but also on the seam that joined the flounce to the bodice.  The pattern goes straight around a point about 10 inches below the hip line.  After the dress hung on the form, I noticed it dipped slightly at the sides.  This might be one reason why the inset flounces on 1930s dresses and skirts  have a curved seam that is higher at Center Front and Center Back and lower on the side seams.  I plan to do my next flounce like this.

My reference books show hems finished with a tape that looks a little like ribbon.  I do not think they had anything like Wrights Flexi-Lace in the 1930s so I went with Wright’s Soft and Easy Hem Tape to finish the hem of the flounce.  It was very stiff when I took it out of the package so I washed it.  I hung it to air dry until slightly damp.  Then I pressed it with a steam iron.  In the close-up of the hem, I’ve already machine sewn the hem tape and basted it in place for the final hand stitching.

The rippling comes from the circular hem.  I’ve pinched in excess fabric where needed.  After hand stitching and light steaming the hem will flatten.  When seen from the right side the hem is smooth so I think this hem treatment will work out.  To stabilize the joining seam of the flounce and bodice I hand stitched into place Wrights Flexi-Lace all the way around.  Tiny running stitches at the top and bottom of the lace were the best choice to sew it in place.

At the French Fashion Academy, we rarely if ever used either Flexi-Lace or Soft & Easy Hem Tape.  Seam edges were zig-zagged and sewn in place with a catch stitch when a flat hem was needed.  Even so, I like the look of lace hem tape because it does look a little retro as do pinked seams.  If I have a choice, though, I prefer Flexi-Lace because it is softer and accommodates curves much better than the Soft & Easy Hem Tape.

Progress Photos

The dress is turned inside out so you can see the finishing for the hem and the joining seam of flounce and bodice.

Close-up of hem finished with Wrights Soft & Easy Hem Tape.

Close-up of the flounce hem, from the right side of the dress.