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Are you an amazing fashion illustrator? Do your fashion illustrations belong behind gilded frames in art galleries? Me neither…

But there is hope. When I was in Fashion Design school in Firenze, Italia, we used to sketch for hours on end. As an assignment we were to create our own personalized fashion croqui (pronounced crow-kee) from scratch. An average croqui’s height, if you will, is made up of 9 HEADS. I’ve plugged this book by FIDM professor Nancy Riegelman into this article because it helped my best friend learn to sketch beautifully and she gifted the book to me as well, I found it very helpful. The croqui to the far left is on FIDM’s website, and illustrates how the human body is broken up into equal sections, or 9 heads. Designers Nexus offers many free, downloadable fashion croquis, flats and sketches for your convenience, examples are pictured above right.

Besides teaching yourself to sketch beautiful croquis on your own, like I know you are all going to do, there are enough free croqui downloads out there to give you a head start. We have a tutorial on BurdaStyle where you can download our croqui for free while also learning how to create technical flats, which are technical illustrations, showing the details of a garment: seamlines, zippers, buttons, darts, topstitching, etc. . It is very important if you wish to produce your clothing with a factory, to create technical flats of each piece. These illustrations are equivalent to an architect’s sketch of a house plan; they define exactly how the garment is to be produced, down to surface embellishments.

The link to the BurdaStyle CROQUI:
(right click and download)

The Tutorial for the BurdaStyle technical flat:


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    Feb 15, 2011, 08.53 AMby caribbelle

    I love drawing croquis…its been a while. I’ve been attempting (heavy emphasis on the word) since I was a kid. I’m ok with them now but they never look as stylized as the designers. I’ll try to get into making them look more realistic

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    Jul 10, 2010, 10.32 PMby pandami

    i can draw, but i wouldn’t say it has to be realistic, my people range from miniscule petites to mummy long legs! I can’t really critique your drawing, a you’ve probabaly drawn for more hours than me in total, but where was it again you said you drew for hours on end?

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    May 6, 2010, 12.14 PMby beaufabulous

    What an awesome post! This was very interesting to me and I think I’m going to try out that “9 Heads” book. I’ve been wanting to try clothing sketching for a while now and this has really inspired me : )

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    May 6, 2010, 02.43 AMby smidget1956

    I tried opening the link to download the Croqui and all I get is a red X. Can anyone offer a solution to this?

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    May 3, 2010, 11.14 PMby tonierenee

    Looks like I have found one more fun thing to play with.

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    May 3, 2010, 07.53 PMby marissaismyname

    I think it’s time for a revolution of real women to design for real women’s bodies and still keep it chic! Everyone is designed differently and most things don’t look good on women who don’t have Barbie’s body (unless you get it tailored, etc). How about everyone starts designing for people other than heroin chic models? Afterall, we’re the ones who have to wear it…

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    Apr 11, 2010, 07.05 PMby flowergirl22


    i love to design my own,, but my drawsings are c….p.. fill in the rest as yo like,, but i know what I want to make with all the swatches i collect and inspirations i gather in my everyday travels.

    i am not that tall though,, only 1.60cm, and not much out in width

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    Apr 6, 2010, 06.45 AMby ribbon

    Hi! This is how I usually proceed. I draw a miniature croqui (with the required neckline, cuts, length of sleeves etc). Then I use this as a guides to make an original pattern according to measurement of the person to whom the dress is meant for. And finally I use this to cut the material. It works for me.

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    Apr 5, 2010, 09.38 PMby soozburda

    Great discussion! I don’t have much to add except to say that as a drawing challenged sewer, I have always skipped this stage and simply set to sewing from what is in my mind. But I think perhaps I might try the photograph outline suggested here. Thanks!

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    Apr 4, 2010, 07.56 PMby helenadoll

    The legs look strangely long, I draw girls who look like me, very short! :) but the illustration with the bust lines etc is very useful

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    Apr 4, 2010, 04.13 AMby ohjoy

    I agree that its meant to be artistic but I recently bought a pattern that looked really awesome on that illustration, that ended up looking really really horrible on me. The flat didn’t really do much to tell that it was going to look that bad on me it just told me what the end result would be. I think a croquis that looked more like me would have been more helpful. :)

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    Apr 3, 2010, 05.03 PMby marloncosta

    Drawing is fun! Fashion illustration is just a artistic way of presenting a garment. It does not have to be realistic. It doesn`t even have to show every single detail on the garment or the details of the human figure. The purpose is to express the mood, the movement, the personality of the garment and to provoke emotion. That`s why we also have the flats, which are technical drawings meant to show a garment exactly how it is.

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    Apr 3, 2010, 04.32 PMby sewverytall

    Drawing fashion is my first step in any new design, and I just love this part. It’s something you can do anywhere anytime with only a pencil/pen and paper in hand. It gets that spark of an idea you just had down on paper so it’s not forgotten. Many things can inspire me, and even one tiny part of a garment may be something I like, but I would use it differently…gotta sketch it immediately! This is also the fastest way to “try” something out, like would it look best on a blouse or a dress or something else.

    I have to add my 2 cents about proportion…I’ve always heard, or learned from several different sources, that the average female human body is 8 heads. Of course I had to measure myself to see, lol. My head is 9 1/2", which works out perfectly with my 76" bod [6’4" tall]. Each section works out too…one head from chin to bust…one head from bust to waist…one head from waist to crotch…two heads from crotch to knee…and two heads from knee to feet. Knowing this is helpful when trying to draw reality rather than elongated cartoon figures that make any outfit look better.

    I have to say…croquis that have ridiculously long legs may sell outfits or patterns for manufacturers, but I think they are nothing more than a big fat lie. But then I’ve never liked deceptive advertisements. It’s like they’re saying the real thing isn’t good enough.

    1 Reply
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      Apr 4, 2010, 07.57 PMby helenadoll

      also, if a dress was knee-length on that drawing, it would be floor-length on me!

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    Apr 3, 2010, 04.12 PMby libra-s

    Thanks for this post. I’m so keen to start fashion drawings now :) Could you please fix the link for Burdastyle Croqui? It doesn’t work!

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    Apr 2, 2010, 06.23 PMby googlie

    I’ve always been horribly challenged at drawing and never seemed to get out a decent illustration ( a teacher even once laughed out loud). Somehow, a few months ago I landed a design job in a huge lingerie company here in Mexico, at which most of what I do is drawing. I still can’t make a pretty, cool, not deformed looking illustration freehand to save my life, but I’ve found that combining technical flats with some other techniques really help, specially since I work digitally. There are many different softwares that help and make life easier, and if you get a chance, I’d recommend learning as many as you can. I think Kaledo Style is the better one, it is very user friendly and lets you do so much, even using your actual fabrics and findings in your drawings, but Illustrator can do just fine.

    I never, ever would have imagined me pretty much drawing for a living, in fact, most people I went to school with and even teachers fin it hard to believe. I thinks it’s as much about talent as it is about finding little tricks to help you and practice, practice practice.

    And as a tip, tracing over fashion photographs and illustrations seems to help a lot, not for copying, but for creating some sort of muscle memory, or to kind of understand how the lines behave and curl into the shapes you need.

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    Apr 2, 2010, 02.32 AMby vronnieka

    Learning fashion illustration can be extremely frustrating, but it’s not that hard to improve with simple exercises and a little discipline. I wrote an article in my blog about it, with tips and exercises to improve your skills.


    I even posted ‘before and after’ pictures of my improved skills!

    Good Luck every one, happy designing!

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    Apr 1, 2010, 02.01 PMby ashchaser

    Wow! This was like the super abridged version of my 5 hour illustration course! As tedious as it is I am really able to sketch and use markers much better than 3 months ago, not to mention I will have another advanced version of this class in the fall. We use 9 heads and it is very helpful, except for how huge it is- barely fits in my backpack!

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    Apr 1, 2010, 08.58 AMby phillipalyes

    Any tips for drawing plus size? I am about a size 18 and wish to draw for myself and other plus size people.

    5 Replies
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      Apr 1, 2010, 04.00 PMby daisylynn

      agreed! Are there any helpful tips out there for drawing croquis which AREN’tTof superthin supertall models?
      I’d like to see what the design looks like on a normally proportioned body, whether plus or not…

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      Apr 1, 2010, 08.18 PMby sunspot

      Plus size people- put on close fitting clothing (Leotard, underwear?) and photograph yourself in several positions. Make sure the camera is about the same distance away. Then print the photos and trace them with tracing paper or a computer drawing program (Adobe Illustrator springs to mind). Then print out the drawing in a light gray on many different sheets and draw and color to your heart’s content.

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      Apr 1, 2010, 08.30 PMby m1khaela

      Actually, yes! I’m a cartoonist/illustrator (I make my own croquis drawings for sewing for my very pregnant self) and am working on a detailed tutorial for customized croquis for sewers of various sizes based on photos! I’ll be posting it in the “tips” part of BurdaStyle!

      And they won’t be 9 heads tall…

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      Apr 26, 2010, 12.10 PMby mickeysews

      I had someone take a photo of me. I then just traced my shape to make my own. I can’t draw a happy face, and this has worked well for me.

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      Apr 28, 2010, 12.45 PMby ncn6

      This is such a good idea! i can’t believe I never just thought to take a picture of myself before. I’m totally going to do this. m1khaela, I’m jealous of your cute, smiling sketches, though! I’m afraid mine will probably turn out to be rather utilitarian…

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    Mar 31, 2010, 10.07 PMby baerbelborn

    I think its a bit dull if every single fashionista draws the same height, proportion and doll like everyone else. Life is too short to copy

    • This is a question
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