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.


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.








The Dressmaker’s Library: “Illustrating Fashion: Concept to Creation”

When I’m between sewing projects I love to sketch.  There is something very satisfying to seeing an idea given expression on paper.  It also helps when I go fabric or notion shopping because I can show the salesperson what I’m making or want to make.

If you want to learn how to sketch be assured that no previous drawing skills are needed.  The key to success is to find a book that takes you through the process step by step and provides detailed instructions.  “Illustrating Fashion:  Concept to Creation” by Stephen Stipelman is an excellent book.

The cutting method .

Stipleman shows you how to draw a standard 10-heads croquis.  Before moving on to drawing garments he spends several chapters explaining how to understand such concepts as the balance line of the figure and the center line of the garment.  Much attention is devoted to the poses and sense of movement needed in the figure.

One of the most helpful exercises for a beginner is in the chapter where the cutting method is explained.  Here the croquis is treated like a paper doll.  The arms and legs are cut and taped into different positions as shown in the illustration above.  Tracing paper is then put over the figures and a new figure is drawn.  Stipelman emphasizes giving the figure an attitude and stance.  His illustrations are always accompanied by good descriptions.

There is no substitute for attending a class and getting feedback from an experienced teacher.  But if that’s not possible you don’t have to wait.  I recommend you seek out this book and study the lessons.  You will not be disappointed.  I had no real drawing skills prior to beginning the lessons in this book but can now sketch my ideas.  I have a long way to go but I am seeing results.

Here are three of my recent practice sketches using examples from the chapter on how to draw skirts.

What I love about this book is that eventually you can move on to sketching in your own style.  Since my interest in fashion extends to Barbie dolls I do see some of that in my own sketches.  If you decide to develop this talent you’ll be amazed at what is inside of you waiting to express itself.

The Dressmaker’s Library: “Fashion Illustration 1920-1950”

“Fashion Illustration 1920-1950 Techniques and Examples” by Walter T. Foster is a valuable addition to any dressmaker’s library. The value lies in the book being a visual reference on several levels. First, there are the fashions of the decades beautifully and simply drawn. Then there are the body types for each decade showing what was considered the ideal figure for the time.

Fashion figure of the  late 1920s.

Fashion figure of the 1930s.

The slender, linear look of the 1920s gave way to the curvy sensual look of the 1930s.  The tubular silhouette was replaced by one in which fabrics were cut to flow over the body.  There was an emphasis on movement with flares, godets and flounces.

Fashion figure of the 1940s.

By the 1940s the figure is fuller and curvier. The reader will gain insight into how a woman’s body was envisioned by the illustrators and designers of the 1920s through the 1950s. Even though these illustrations represent the ideal of these decades they speak to the reader on many levels. I learned that I prefer the overall look of the 1940s since the inspiration comes from a woman who is living an active life and looks like she has a healthy body weight and outlook on life.

Foster provides some basics to start a croquis (rough sketch of the fashion figure) but does not go much further than that. There are no graded lessons taking the reader through an organized series of exercises. If you already know how to sketch then you might be able to get more out of this book. There are many examples of first sketches compared to finished sketches. For someone with experience these will provide all you need to recreate similar fashion illustrations.

There is a brief treatment of how to draw children. The section on drawing the male fashion figure is treated in the same manner as the female fashion figure. There are some guidelines with the rest of the presentation consisting of many sketches.

“Fashion Illustration 1920-1950 Techniques and Examples” is published by Dover and is available for $12.95. I got mine new from Amazon