The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Questions on Croquis

I did a little video on how to use and what value a croquis can be.  The most important thing to remember is that this is a process and as such it is ongoing.  IOW, do NOT expect to get the design right the first time.  The idea is to try out different aspects of the design to see if they will work.

Watch as I erase and re-draw:

For other markings, if you want to place a contrasting colored sticky on your bust points, and tie a contrasting ribbon around your waist (in a bow in back so it’s not distracting in front), then you have most of your markings you need.  For your hips, just measure across the widest part.  If you want to leave one arm out (like with your hand on your waist), that’s OK for one shot, to help you determine where your underarm is, and same is true of your inseam height, but don’t use these positions as croquis at first, because this can distort your true figure shape and make proportions harder than it needs to be. That should take care of any other markings you may need on your croquis.

Some of the supplies I used, but you don’t have to are:  kneaded eraser (I like it cause usually I can squeeze it into a tiny shape and erase a little spot) graphite pencils (F, HB, B & 2B are my favorites) and the Bienfang sketch pad – it has a great tooth (will grab the graphite from the pencil nicely) and it’s somewhat transparent, but a nice weight.  You don’t have to use these, but get some nice soft pencils – it makes drawing wonderful.

Don’t make this hard.  Play with it and have fun with it, and this process can go a long way toward helping you make good decisions about the proportion of your sewing.

As always I adore questions….hopefully this will help you, and most of all, I hope you will make your own croquis and then use it and experiment with it to see how useful they can be.

12 Comments
  1. Thanks for this video! It really helped to see what a difference a croquis makes! I was amazed at how frumpy the pattern dress was and how wonderful the lines were on your croquis with the alterations! Did you make the dress?

    • Margaret – I usually draw up my own patterns, and I just whipped this one out cause it had a video-able front and could make my point quickly. No, haven’t made up the dress, but after doing this croquis, I might. Bought this for another student, but might try doing this with a bateau neckline and wide shoulder set armscye – need to draw that up!!!

  2. Thanks for such an informative video! I do appreciate all the time and effort you put into your blog. I’ve learned a lot from you! As a more or less beginning sewist, the challenge now would be to take the design from the croquis and make the necessary alterations to the pattern!

    • Donna – Now don’t make this harder than it needs to be. The great thing about drawing this out (remember you’re really tracing it) is that you can experiment with several ideas and play around with it – without cutting an inch of the fabric!!! This also allows you to mess around with the waist, lengths, widths and all sorts of other stuff that will help you decide what you need and want.

      For example, say you want a broader shoulder…then just draw one in and see how it looks – not good, make it thinner – not good – go in between. When you finish look at your true shoulder and this will tell you whether you need to make the size larger (remember you’re buying pattern size by shoulder width) or thinner.

      Say you’d like it longer, but you’re short….you know you can do this, but you also know that it’s a very small space where the “sweet spot” is, and with a pencil & eraser (and croquis) you can tell where that line is the best. You can even do several different drawings to see which one you like the best.

      This is really a great “cheater’s” way to rough out a design and get it organized and a lot of problems solved in your head before you even cut out the pattern.

      Just try it a couple of times and see how you like messing with croquis.

  3. I use a croquis, but I never really think about how to change the pattern on it except for shortening and proportion of the outer edges, but your redrawing of darts, waist etc expanded my understanding of how to change patterns. Thanks.

    • Nancy – I love what you do with croquis – I’ve seen them. Personally I think these little things are as magical as the side bust dart!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the video, Claire! It helped so much.

    I was very surprised to see the dress would turn out longer than the sketch. I thought that since it was basically knee length in the sketch, it would be knee-length on an average height woman. That’s one sewing disaster mystery solved!

    I loved watching you make that pattern your own. The original version would look frumpy on you, but the transformed one looks elegant.

    Thanks again! I really appreciate the time, knowledge and work that went into making the video.

  5. Thank you!!!

  6. Thanks again! I’ll have to give it a try.

  7. Thank you for the clarity! Will try this!!

  8. I was finally able to access this blog and am finding your design information very useful. The information on shoulders and croquis are great follow-ups to the fitting class I just took on Pattern-review. I live in the wilds of Maine and finding ANY sewing classes is impossible. You mention in your croquis video various styles that you feel look good on you. Is this a proportional thing or is it trial and error and suggestions from other people. I have a hard time deciding what looks good on me.

    • Martha – I do have certain parameters that look good on certain shapes. This probably comes from my art background and that’s why it’s a little easier for me. But you can learn this too – this isn’t some inherited or born-with thing that you have or don’t have. You can learn it. It’s called a practiced eye, and one you have it, it’s very useful in determining what looks good on you and what doesn’t. This doesn’t require a Ph. D. from FIT – it’s practice! I’m doing a series now, that will lead up to this – how to develop your own style.

      Glad you found the blog! Welcome!

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