If you’re considering designing sewing patterns, or simply an avid and creative home sewist who likes to plan your projects in advance, drawing your designs is a must. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to master figure drawing in order to create these designs; others out there have created croqui templates for us to use. There are a number of choices available but it’s important to consider whether you want to do a highly stylized, long and lean body for your illustrations or utilize a more realistic body type.

The fashion industry, for the most part, has utilized tall, thin, idealized croquis for quite some time. In this, they do a serious disservice to all the women who are their potential customers. These designers are illustrating their designs on a body that doesn’t exist; creating samples in size 00 or 0, and utilizing models who typically are a size 6 or smaller. There’s been a recent trend towards even skinnier, uncurvy, androgynous models (in the fall/winter 2015 Ready to Wear Shows there were a number designers who utilized models of uncertain gender).

But real women have curves! Among my friends and acquaintances, I can think of three women over age 35 who are really slender, and all of them have curves, just less of them than other women (these women would likely wear sizes 6 to 8). In addition, I can think of a couple women who are “athletically slender” with a slightly larger build, toned muscles, and less curves than other women (but these women likely wear a size 10 to 12). Most of the rest of us are varying degrees of curvy.

Personally, I think sewists and independent pattern designers tend to be part of a fashion counter-revolution. We prefer custom made instead of mass produced clothing, We’re expanding the definition of what is fashionable and stylish. Many of us are working to show the beauty of every woman and celebrating those curves. Some indie designers are even designing specifically for plus sizes, pear shapes, etc.

Since we’re counter revolutionaries, I think we should begin our design process with croquis that are close to reflecting a realistic human body. Now, personally, I don’t mind a little idealization. But a croqui that measures 9 1/2 heads tall with legs twice as long as the torso (when the human body is typically 7 to 8 heads tall approximately equally divided between torso and legs) is just bizarre, in my opinion.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:



Here I’ve sketched a rough drawing of a Colette Monetta dress. The illustration to the right is from the IllustratorStuff croqui templates (I may have actually scaled this one a little wider than the original), and measures 7 1/2 heads tall. The illustration on the left uses a croqui from the Pantone Fashion SketchPad, which measures 9 1/2 heads tall. This is a knee length skirt; you can already see that the garment proportions (bodice length to skirt length) are different. With midi and maxi skirt lengths, the proportion imbalance is intensified. When using elongated croquis, you’re not drawing the actual design you’re intending to make.

In coming posts, I’m going to compare fashion sketchbooks and let you know how their croquis measure up. Then I’m going to let you know of some downloadable templates (most available for free) if you’d prefer to create a collection  that reflects your  preference.

Where are all those 7 feet tall humanoid creatures with legs twice as long as their bodies,  anyhow?