Planning My Sewing

The Hubbinator often remarks at how quickly I pull a dress or blouse of whatnot together but what he never sees is the planning that goes into what I make. I don’t always draw sketches but a lot of times I do.

I’ve often talked about using my croquis sketchpad. I got it at an art supply store called Blick and now the French Seam has them in town- or usually does.



I also like to sketch on the go on my phone. I use SketchBook X for Android but it’s also available for other platforms. This would be great if I had a tablet but honestly, it works for a quick sketch. Some of them I share, some I leave to myself but it’s easy to draw and then export so you can easily share on your smart phone. Drawing with my finger is not easy but it’s getting easier.


Threads put up a PDF you can download of a family of croquis. I’ve printed these and used them as a base for a thought.

Lauren put up a Gimp (open source Photoshop-like program) tutorial about a year ago on how to take a picture of yourself and create a croqui. But you can always follow what Sara talks about in the Colette Handbook. You basically take a photo of yourself and trace the outline. Could you do this on your computer screen? You could also print a black and white photo to trace.

If digital manipulation is your thing or you’re curious about it, check out Mikhaela’s video tutorital. She’s fast and already good at what she does so just watch it a bunch of times. For those who don’t know, Mikhaela does the artwork for Cake Patterns.

While I get that using a croqui of a fashion sketch doesn’t show you what you’ll look like, I still like using my notebook (the first link). I did a bunch of sketching on a petite plus croqui I found online, and can’t seem to locate now. Here’s an old post so you can see how it worked.

What do you do? Or perhaps you can see what you want clearly in your head and you don’t feel the need for drawing? Anyone tell themselves they aren’t good at drawing? I used to say that of myself, too. Having kids has taught me to stop the negative banter about what I’m good at and what I’m not good at and just have fun with it all.

17 thoughts on “Planning My Sewing

  1. LadyD says:

    I will sketch a general outline but what I draw doesn’t always end up as the final product as it depends what materials I can get hold of…planned projects get their own bag with sketch, pattern*, fabric and notions which goes into my sewing cupboard so I can dive straight in. sometime though another project will jump in front of what I have planned and mess up my schedule.

    *paper pattern will already be cut out

    • Leila says:

      Nice system. I tend to leave the things I want to finish first lying on my table. If it’s not in plain sight, I’ll forget about it. I like how you do it.

    • Leila says:

      Oh, yes! I think getting ideas from shows and movies is why I don’t watch much live tv. I need to be able to pause so I can get the details. I’m lazy about the trim. I know I need more practice in the searching phase. Mostly, I just grab the first thing that clicks with the project.

  2. Brooke says:

    I’ve done the “trace a photo” thing for years – I’m not even sure I ever really read/heard you could do it that way, I just started doing it. Works well, especially when I’m trying to work with someone who isn’t visual and needs to see a sketch on their own body. And yes, sometimes I use the computer monitor as a lightbox. Window (during the day) works well too. =)

    My sketching isn’t as good as it used to be (I don’t practice as much as I once did) but I’m not horrible. All through high school, I had plans of being a Disney animator so most of my sketching is somewhat cartoony – I would love to sketch with beautiful graceful lines like some fashion designers, but that isn’t what comes out on paper.

    I’m impressed with your “finger-sketching”! Touch screens hate my fingers and make me angry.

    • Leila says:

      Disney animator, eh? Cool. At my school in Colombia, everyone took art class. I clearly remember days of shading with different weight pencils. At the time I thought it was tedious but I’m glad I had some art training. I feel like I’m not horrible but I could definitely practice more. Oh, and I only post my best finger sketches. Some are so awful drop them from a cliff.

  3. niekemieke says:

    I really love love love this post as I was always struggling with the way I wanted to draw my sketches. They were all in my head but they never came out because I didn’t know how to draw them and planning went slow because I had so many ideas but had no way of putting them down in my notebook. So thanks again, this is awesome!

    • Leila says:

      I’m glad you liked it. Sometimes I sketch something so far from my comfort zone just to see the thought on paper. If I like it a week after I’ve sketched it, I go looking for fabric. Sometimes the sketch stage is where an idea stays. it saves me time and money.

  4. B says:

    Hi, Thanks for showing me lots of new things.

    The more my figure, if one could call it that, has changed, the more I realize how little my mental image fits the truth. In buying clothes you can at least, gag, get in the dressing room and see how things fit, but it is different when all you have is an idea, or a pattern envelope drawing, or a photo of an idealized model. Those to scale drawings really help and the paint programs would sure help with color blocking.

    I’m a great fan of a dress form. It is no snazzy store mannequin. Mine is padded out for my personal shape. It isn’t a pretty sight, but I hide it in a corner and put a pretty caftan or some fabric draped over it. on it. Reminds me I want to sew.
    (I had a friend who had hers all dressed in period clothes as part of the decor. She’d rigged a wig stand as a face and had a big hat on it.)
    Lots to think about with your post, but keep me off that YouTube! I could spend all day.

    • Leila says:

      I try to go for a free program usually because I’m saving any money for fabric. 🙂 Also, I have a duct tape dress form for the personal shape, too. I don’t think I’ll ever buy one from a store. Mine isn’t pretty either but it gets the job done.

      thanks for the comment.

  5. sewexhausted says:

    I really AM a lousy drawer (hmm- drawer?) but I scribble something half way decent out on a piece of regular paper… I really would like to use a croquis though and may look in to this. -L

    • Leila says:

      Take one of the pics you already have and trace it. I don’t think you would, but don’t try to get the best more perfectest croquis to start. Just do it. Oh, Nike has a catchy phrase.

  6. Cuckoo Chanel says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Leila! I’m on a road trip for a week sans sewing machine, so this is the perfect time to plan and sketch. Thanks to your tip, I found the SketchBookX app and am learning how to use it. Incredibly useful new creative tool. Although I’ve never sketched before and am sure it’ll be a wreck on the screen, at least it’s something. I’ll post the more entertainingly bad ones on Twitter or Instagram. 🙂

    • Leila says:

      Great! Please do post the ones you draw and get my attention. I tell you, I have a lot of sloppy drawings. I mean, we’re drawing with a finger! How smooth can that be? Start with copying a skirt from a magazine, y’know. I’m glad you looked up the app. I love it.

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