[Module 2] Capsule Design | 8. Drawing Design Options

Just prior to starting the designs, have another look at your Style Sheets that you filled out in the last module. Considering your body type do you want to alter any of the styles that you choose, tick or cross any other styles or alter anything in your last edit?

Lastly look at the clothes you have in your wardrobe for your capsule so far or reference your Capsule list and Garment Gap table and make a final assessment as to whether you want to allow them to stay, do they fit into the colour scheme you have or are you going to shift them out.

There is a very good chance here that you are moving lots of decent clothes out of your wardrobe that fit you and that you like and are in good condition. Don’t worry they are viable garments so are not going to leave the house it is just that they may not be the most flattering for you at this time because you have ascertained what colours you believe are more complementary. Either bag these clothes up separately for storage or add them to Bag E to review amongst your next season clothes for reconsideration. Now the other thing you could consider is to dye the clothes with natural or manmade dyes to bring them back into the capsule that you are creating in which case go for it, less waste and an upcycled garment to wear.

Obviously if nothing or very few garments made the cut and this could be possible then don’t get down hearted. The whole reason we are doing this is to try to get you wearing much better clothes than you had previously for quality, fit and comfort, just don’t pack away some of them until you have started to build up your capsule. Just use your common sense, you can think for yourself I am offering suggestions and a framework as I said this is not set in stone, please don’t go out and buy something now because you think you have nothing to wear, just make do with the best of what you have got, it only has to get better from this point onwards.

Now we have the final list of garments that have made it, and hopefully at this point you have garments that fit your colour scheme as a starting point.

From your Capsule List and Garment Gap Table downloaded document deduct the list of garment that you currently have to give you what you need to design in order to complete the capsule, how many tops, skirts, dresses etc. do you think you need to complete it, what is the gap.

Designing and drawing your garments are going to get you focused on visualising what you are going to buy or make. There is nothing worse than buying some fabric you like on a whim and making anything with it and putting hours into it and then at the end thinking well it’s OK but it’s not what I thought it was going to look like. With little planning how can you expect any more than that, and this purchasing practice just takes us right back to where we started and we don’t want to go back there again.

By taking the time to plan you are selling the whole package to yourself, you are questioning what you really need by planning it into your wardrobe. If you get it wrong well you can go through the process and try to work out why so that you don’t make the same mistake again, we only learn from our mistakes. Question yourself, yes you might have drawn some really nice pictures worthy of sticking them up on the wall even, but will you really wear that white silk dress for work even if you think it could be comfortable and sexy! (Oh yes and I have been there too!). Think actively about the whole process.

After that warning, designing your own clothes is really a fun part of the process, get some pencils, coloured pens, paints etc. whatever your choice of mark makers – raid the kids pencil case if you have to.

Invest in a few clean page notepads of any size if you can. If you can afford it you could buy pads that already have body outlines drawn but it is lots of fun trying out ways of drawing bodies and finding a style of Croquis that suits you.


Here is my confession, I don’t think I can draw very well and I am sure there are others out there that feel the same way. But I know that I get better with practice. However, don’t let that stop you. I actually love doing this, if you don’t have a go I think you might be missing out on a chance to let your creativity come out. You can do this anywhere you go – just keep a little sketchpad and pencil in your bag. A Croquis is basically a quick drawing of the shape of a body in any pose and usually used in fashion drawing. Obviously for drawing clothing it would be good to have at least a figure outline for a front body and a back body or even a side. They can be standing straight, or one or both legs bent and same with the arms. They can have features and be very lifelike or you might want them to be very arty or edgy in design or larger bodies or thinner bodies it’s really your choice, so google it and have a play.

Now you can either keep life simple and use the ones provided and download and print them out as a quick way to get started or you can have a play and create your own style. My current Croquis is rather simple to allow for some proportion and give a better idea of what it would look like on the body.

I have provided a selection to get you started in the Croquis Templates download, Front, Back views with a wider leg option for when we get to trousers, Side view and different Arm positions to have a play with.

If you want to have a go at drawing your own Croquis because your body is totally different from the one I provided or you just want to try out your own style of Croquis, you can either trace mine off and then change the sizing up or down, or just start a fresh with your own ideas. It’s a good time to have a play with it and have some fun.

I use the Croquis to draw out lots of design ideas to see how they would look. I place the Croquis outline sheet behind the page I am working on and I lightly trace out the outline for each new design that I want to sketch and then I draw my design on top of that.

As the Croquis have a dark outline I can see it through photocopy paper and also paper in my drawing pads. So I print off each Croquis and cut it down with scissors so that I can choose the position for it on the page, I then just slip them all in the back of my pad so I can use them whenever I am sketching. To add a different arm shape position the arm template under your drawing page in the correnct position and simply trace this out after tracing the Front or Back Body, you may need to play with the position of the arm on the sheet underneath until it looks right. This way I keep my printed copy clean and reusable, wasting less paper.

It is a longer process to keep tracing it out but for some reason I seem to take pleasure in the repetition and trying to draw better each time perfecting sections as I go trying aimlessly not to draw claw hands! It’s not perfect or special but it is what it is. I can’t wait to see your versions of Croquis!


Now that you have identified what type of items you need for your capsule wardrobe it’s time to start sketching out some ideas. I have sketch pads full of quick designs and I just love drawing out ideas, you can take your sketch book anywhere you go, I sketch anywhere and as a mum of three I often find myself waiting while a child has a social life or health visit.

To keep it simple and to allow for styles to been seen individually I just do one or two sketches per page. This also allows for extra explanatory notes and sketches on the page to remind you of what you were thinking when you did the sketch. Are you imagining a certain stitch lines, sewing details, pattern, colour, texture, fabric?

If you are stuck and don’t know where to start or don’t like the idea of tracing the Croquis or inventing your own I have provided Design Templates for you to download to use as sketch sheets for Basic Bodice, Basic Dress, Basic Skirt and Basic Trouser templates to get you started, just print them off and because they are light lines you can just sketch straight on top of them. You could practice drawing different necklines, lengths, collars, style lines and the Style Sheets will give you some options to practice sketching.

The idea is to keep the designs simple and use pencil so you can erase errors. The aim is to get all of those ideas out of your head and onto the page. If you are struggling to get started then use your inspiration ideas from earlier i.e;

  • Use the Style Sheets and Design Template sheets – to sketch out your preferences etc.

  • Use your mood boards to help you with shapes and texture and pattern.

  • Consider the shape of garments you already have and like.

  • Get ideas from the high street, the high street is your art gallery so take your inspiration from it.

  • Look at your photos, can you take your inspiration from a shot of nature, architecture or abstract shapes.

  • Try to be mindful about your previous thoughts about of your body shape and what shape garments might help show off your best assets and how you want to present yourself.

When sketching, consider how you use features in a garment to highlight areas;

  • What seams are you going to use (peekaboo seams will grab attention).

  • Could you use mesh inserts to bring focus to an area?

  • Could you use, piping, welts, trims to draw attention?

  • Could you reverse a fabric or make the garment reversable?

  • Could you use pockets, visual or hidden?

  • Can zips be used elsewhere in an usual place, maybe on a pocket?

  • Could a flounce be used on a sleeve, neckline or down the front back or side of the garment to move attention to that area, flounces can make a garment look longer?

  • Consider where to put style lines, extra lines can help break up a garment and create interest. Extra seams/darts also help get a better fit, vertical and diagonal lines can look slimming.

  • Tapering sleeves can give space to break up a bodice from the sleeve which can assist with making the body look less wide at the waist and hip.

As we are working towards the Capsule wardrobe, once you have drawn out a few sketches try to pull them together into a capsule. There is a Capsule Sheet in the Design Templates for you to use to get you started if you need a little help with this.

When drawing also consider;

  • Can a Top be worn out or Tucked in, Belted or Tied – if it can then this can help to create further looks, the garment becomes more flexible and is a good choice as a Flexible Pattern?

  • Could the garment be worn casually, for work or dressed up – sometimes in a capsule wardrobe you want to do all 3 or you might want some garments to cross over capsules within the wardrobe?

  • Can the garment be used in layering, e.g. a camisole under a blouse under a jacket, or a shirt over a top with a cardigan – layering helps to create further looks, again the garment becomes more flexible and is a good choice and may be part of a Flexible Pattern Pack?

  • Does each garment go with at least 3 other things – if it can’t then ask yourself does it fit in the collection?

  • Can the outfit be accessorise to make it look different, would it work with a belt, a statement necklace, a scarf, a bag, and different shoes?

Flexible Patterns

If you have never drafted patterns or even made your own clothes then the best way to start is to keep things very simple. I would like to introduce my Flexible Pattern concept. A Flexible Pattern is where you can make multiple tops out of the same pattern but unless you knew that you would think they were all separate designs. Now I am not reinventing the wheel here as this happens all of the time in fashion I am simply packaging this concept to try to outline it clearly for you, to get you thinking about simplifying things and getting more benefit out of the patterns that you do draft up because they do take time and effort and resources. If you are considering this at the design stage you can take better advantage of Flexible Patterns. Essentially think about variations and other things that you can do with it, this will take your design to another level.

To start with pic a classic design, for example a basic round neck top, or an A Line Skirt or a Shift Dress and think about what you could do with it. Draw it with a different front to the back or add sleeves etc. Simple changes and variations that don't change the drafting too much will give you multiple options for the same pattern and therefore make your pattern flexible.

Take a simple top idea for example with Flexible Pattern making you would have the option to up style it in a number of different ways every time you wanted to make it.

Lets say that in your capsule wardrobe that you would like 5 tops, 2 of which you already have in your wardrobe that meet the capsule requirement. For the other 3 then you may wish to get similar or totally different styles. The advantage to making them yourself is that you can add in your own design ideas and detail and put effort into thoughts around quality for the final garment for example facings and linings or seam finishings.

You could draft 3 completely different Tops patterns for your capsule or you could just draft 1 Top pattern and make 3 tops using the same pattern but in different fabrics or colours or draft 1 pattern and change it up a little to give you multiple design options for now or in the future the choices are all yours to make. An important point to make is that while drafting the pattern if you have the variation ideas already thought out you can draft them all at the same time. This is helpful for a number of reasons firstly then you end up with a good Flexible Pattern, your mind is fresh on the pattern rather than coming back to it later and forgetting your ideas but also when creating a test garment you can test all of the pieces by sewing them up taking them apart changing the pieces and see how they all hang together and drape on the body, you can alter, change your mind try something else and extend your knowledge through your experimentation.

If you like the notion of designing using a Flexible Pattern idea as a basis for sketching you could make use of the Basic Bodice, Dress and Skirt Sheets and see how many ways you could draw the same garment but changing it up slightly differently. There more sewing you do and the more sewing topics you learn the easier it will be for you to translate the design concept into a pattern that is easily flexible. Obviously these skills and ideas are then transferable to other patterns/clients.

Take a look at this really simple example, this first sketch is for a basic vest top design. The lines shown are identifying dart positions. Darts are ways of pinching out fabric to make the garment fit better around all of the mounds on the body and can be used or not used depending on the design. Once sketched you can trace this drawing and then start to change it up a little, adding ruffles or applique (added on fabric cut from various shapes for enhancement), you can add extra pattern pieces for extended hems or necklines or armholes, crop the length, add a hood or pockets or break the pattern up in any way to create colour blocking or panels of different fabric as highlights.

Obviously as soon as you start adding colour, pattern, and texture too then the garments are going to start to look very different. Flexible pattern packets include the original pattern but also any optional pattern pieces and other accessorising Flexible Pattern packets for example pockets options.

Flexible patterns will grow over time as you use them and come up with new ideas of how you can use them, pattern pieces will simply be added to the pack. For example you may even design 3 different Front pieces to go with the back pattern piece or you may design multiple back pattern pieces to go with the front pattern option. When Pattern drafting you could draw up all of the patterns at the same time, while you have your focus on this garment, it's harder to put a pattern away then look at it sometime later.

Flexible Patterns are going to give you more value for your expended time so it is well worth considering organising your sketches in this way from the beginning. If you organise your patterns in this way then making clothing becomes easier later as you will have a wealth to choose from with every organised packet that you pick up.

I will offer my suggestions for Flexible Patterns, but they can be as simple or complex as you want them to be and I can't wait to see what ideas you can come up with to create Flexible Pattern options and how to organise them.

If you have already made lots of sketches and not considered Flexible Patterns, have a look at all of your sketches and see if you have any shapes that keep repeating or if you have favourite designs and shapes that you think you might like to make more than one garment out of.

Flexible Patterns, for me this is an important step, you are going to have favourite clothes that you like to wear or a favourite style that you prefer so why not make more than one garment to use across capsules or across seasons using the same pattern after all you are going to a lot of trouble to make the pattern in the first place so why not make the most of it. Now this is my Yorkshire thinking coming out here I think, us Yorkshire folk are well known as being frugal. I love the idea of a flexible pattern and most of what I will show you will take advantage of a flexible pattern.

Just a little reflection here, we have cleared the wardrobe of duplicates, items that are exactly the same where you are stuck in a rut, say you may have 20 pairs of jeans all exactly the same, or multiple white or black plain t-shirts or some other duplicate. When we make garments with a flexible Pattern we are using the same base shape but are having the option of alternative pattern pieces to go with it so we are not putting exact duplicates back into the wardrobe.

For example a half wrap slight A line skirt dress is almost a shift dress, except it has a different upper front pattern of two parts, very simple with a V neck shape created by the wrap over bust bodice pieces. If you made this in a linen it would look like a very different dress than if you made it in a velvet or a cotton/chiffon overlay or lace or some other heavier fabric. So just changing fabrics allows you to start experimenting with a dress that you know fits and that you like the basic shape of.

Some patterns will work better with certain fabrics and to some extent you need to experiment a little with this. When you buy a manufactured pattern they will indicate what fabric to use but you will need to make a decision of what you would like to use if you draft your own pattern.

You would also have to be mindful of a little thing called the turn of the cloth with thicker fabrics as folding over thicker fabric will use up more of the measurement that you have allowed but don’t worry too much about this at this stage you can deal with that during pattern drafting.

You can then start to change it up even further by adding other embellishments, like piping or pockets or ruffles and all of a sudden voila!

Change it up again by creating a different top bodice pattern that works with the current skirt pattern or create a new skirt pattern with a slit and now you have a mini capsule wardrobe within the capsule wardrobe all packed up as a Flexible Pattern.

This Flexible Pattern now becomes multi seasonal and the pieces in the pattern options will grow over time.

Another wonderful thing I like about this idea of a Flexible Pattern is that every time you make it you get to alter any pattern mistakes from the last time you made it writing all of the changes back through the pattern pieces, because you are continuously learning and tweaking.

Keeping a Flexible Pattern Record Card for the package of pattern pieces allows you to track the changes, monitor all the versions you have made and jot down any other design considerations you could make in the future. Your Flexible Pattern is now going to keep on giving, and I am very excited over Flexible Patterns to the point where I dream about them …. I used to dream about designing databases and project plans so this is a welcome change for me!

So with my idea of a Flexible Pattern package in mind review your sketches alongside your list of wardrobe gaps and consider what would work to start filling in your gaps and how you can maximise your pattern making time. What garments could you make that may also cross over capsule wardrobes to ensure you get the most wear out of them?

Flexible Patterns are covered in more detail in Module 6. © 2017 Threadelicious. All Rights Reserved.


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