S1. EP8. The Final Toile of Francesca’s Indigo Robe

S1. EP8. The Final Toile of Francesca’s Indigo Robe

In this episode, we take one more look at Francesca’s original Indigo Robe pattern and make the adjustments detailed in the fitting session from Episode 7. We shorten the sleeves, widen the cuff, create a cross-over neckline, draft a smaller chevron panel on the back and front (more in proportion with her height) and completely redesign the skirt to create more fullness at the back and sides. We also add 30cm to the back to create a train that falls onto the ground. The overall look is far more dramatic! Once the adjustments have been made we re-sample the Indigo Robe in Calico fabric and see the results in our final fitting.

This video blog provides a basic overview of how these changes have been made to the pattern in Adobe Illustrator. However, scroll down to the next video, if you want to see a more in depth view of these changes.

 What is a toile or sample and why it’s an important step

A toile or sample is an early version of a finished garment made up in cheap fabric so the design can be tested and perfected before the final garment is constructed.

Making a toile or sample from your initial pattern is an IMPORTANT part of the design process. Constructing a finished garment, without toiling first, could lead to unforeseen issues with either the fit or design proportions of the finished garment. Both episode 7 and 8 detail the process of toiling to perfect the finished design. 

Often Calico material is used to make the initial toile. Calico is a very cheap fabric cost as low as £2.50 per meter. Unwashed, calico is a structural fabric that is slightly stiff and works well for suits, jackets and other structural garments. Washing Calico causes the fibres to soften and shrink, creating a far softer draping fabric that works well for dresses, shirts, and other non structural garments. Calico comes in a range of thicknesses or weights. The weight of calico used to toile depends on what type of garment you wish to create.

Marking with pen or pining the toile allows you to alter the garment, or record what changes need to be made. This is then transferred to the pattern and a new toile is made with those changes. This process can take multiple toiles depending on how much the garment needs to be changed or adjusted. 

Toiling can be a good way of discovering how the garment should be constructed or in what order the panels need to be joined to create the finished garment. The toile will also help you work out and test  fastenings, closures  or any other complicated design details. 

Making adjustments to Francesca’s Indigo robe – Pattern Making tutorial

This video expands on the above video blog and details the process of transforming Francesca’s existing Indigo Robe pattern (created in S1. EP7+) into the FINAL robe pattern/toile. This is not a detailed tutorial about the pattern making process, instead it is more of an overview of how we made the adjustments to her original Indigo Robe pattern. Once we have finalised the robe pattern we will create a full length and in depth tutorial that can be used with the your own made to measure PatternLab blocks. 


Learn Digital Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator

Love the concept of pattern making in Adobe Illustrator CC? Great, why not take a look at our courses. We show you exactly how to use the platform, the various tools you’ll need and where to find them.  It’s completely FREE so why not have go?

S1. EP7. Creating An Initial Pattern & Toile – Indigo Robe

S1. EP7. Creating An Initial Pattern & Toile – Indigo Robe

In this episode, we update our existing mood boards and fashion illustrations to display the textile prints that we created in the last episode. We also get Francesca’s feedback on which design and print combination she prefers for her robe. We then start the pattern making process by creating the relevant basic blocks using PatternLab and Francesca’s unique measurements. We then imported the made to measure basic blocks into Adobe Illustrator and start to draft the initial robe pattern. Finally, we make the first toile to assess the design aesthetics and fit of the garment ready to begin the final finished pattern of Francesca’s robe.

Establishing which design we will pattern cut and toile up

Unfortunately, we were not able to get Francesca in to review the final design presentation on video. However, we did manage to send the design boards to her via email once they were completed.

The presentation boards consisted of the original mood boards, a selection of four designs (strongest from the entire range), a selection of custom textile prints (that we created for the project) and finally a variety of designs that showcased the prints and designs together. We then asked her to make her selections.


We created this board to display the final four designs which were by far the strongest out of the entire collection. We asked her to pick her favorite from this lineup. She selected Dress D (highlighted with black square)

Once the design had been selected we applied four of our favorite custom prints to the illustrations to give her an idea of what the finished print might look like on her design. She then chose D4 as her favourite. (highlighted with black square).

Once the print had been chosen we resized the print to give four options to choose from. The print is largest on the left and smallest on the right. She loved option D4ii (highlighted with black square).

Design Presentation Download (PDF)

Want to see the whole presentation as it was sent to Francesca? Click the button below to download and view the PDF.

Learn how to design textile prints

Learn how to create your own floral source imagery and turn them into high-res, full-repeat, digital, textile prints for digital printing on to fabric.

Final Design

Once Francesca had decided on the design, print type and print scale, we sent her the final, full-size, fashion illustration to give her a good idea of what her robe might look like. This allows us to draw a line under the initial design process and start the pattern cutting and toiling stage of the project. 

Learn Digital Fashion Illustration

Follow our in depth video tutorial and learn how to create digital fashion illustrations in Adobe Illustrator

Pattern Cutting Francesca’s first robe toile

This video expands on the above video blog and details the process of transforming Francesca’s made-to-measure basic blocks (created using PatternLab) into the initial robe pattern/toile. This is not a detailed tutorial about the pattern making process, instead it is more of an overview of how we created her pattern. Once we have finalised the robe pattern we will create a full length and in depth tutorial that can be used with the your own made to measure PatternLab blocks. 

Learn Digital Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator

Love the concept of pattern making in Adobe Illustrator CC? Great, why not take a look at our courses. We show you exactly how to use the platform, the various tools you’ll need and where to find them.  It’s completely FREE so why not have go?

S1. EP6. Creating textile prints for fashion design

S1. EP6. Creating textile prints for fashion design

In this tutorial we use the source imagery (lilies and palm fronds) created in the last episode (S1. EP5), to design and build a series of professional, full-repeat, digital prints in Adobe Photoshop. First, we’ll import our source imagery into Adobe Photoshop and add it to a new print document. We’ll then scale, arrange and transform the flowers (source imagery) into an aesthetically pleasing print layout. Next, we slice the print layout up to create a full repeat print and then explore the use of filters, hue, saturation and colour layers to create the finished textile print. Finally, we’ll show you how to resize the finished print and save it ready to be digitally printed onto a textile that suits the project and Francesca’s robe.

To follow this tutorial you will need Adobe Photoshop CC and you must download our “Selected source images” pack. You can also visit our previous tutorial to get your hands on even more source imagery!

Creating your own textile prints

Creating your own textile prints can seem pretty daunting. It’s a job or skill in itself and people are paid a lot of money to create textile prints for commercial projects. I was a print designer for many years before we launched PatternLab and created 900+ prints for both individual clients and high street retailers. It’s a wonderfully creative job that can be very rewarding, especially when you see your textile print used to make a gorgeous garment. Creating your own textile prints might seem unattainable at first glance, but the process is actually quite simple.

This tutorial aims to give you an insight into how textile prints are created in Adobe Photoshop so you can then develop your own. It focuses on the key tools, processes and creative concepts behind print design. Once you have insight into these tools and processes, the only limitation is your own imagination or creativity.

We’ve broken the tutorial up into several key steps or stages. This would be a very long blog post if it went into detail for each step, so instead we have provided a little excerpt of what you can expect to learn in each step.

1. Selecting your source imagery.

In S1. EP5. we created over 200 source images of our lilies and palm fronds. This is quite a lot and we can’t use every single image in our textile print. We need to whittle it down to around 20 – 25 images and select only the most aesthetically pleasing ones. Once we have selected our final source images, they are added to a folder on our desktop so that they are easy to find and use.

You can download our final selection of source imagery by either clicking one of the images below or using the download button. The pack contains all 23 source images used in this tutorial.

2. Creating an initial print layout

Once we have selected our source images, we open up Photoshop and create a new document roughly 60 x 60cm and with a resolution of 360dpi (dots per inch). Next, we open our source images in Photoshop and cut (using the magic wand tool) and paste each flower into the new document. Finally, we start to scale, rotate and arrange them (using the free transform tool) into an aesthetically pleasing print layout.

3. Creating a full repeat print.

Once we have a beautiful print layout, we need to transform it into a full repeat print. We do this by cutting the print layout into two pieces, an upper piece and a lower piece. We then swap these pieces so that the existing lower piece now sits at the top of the print and the existing upper piece now sits at the bottom of the print. This rearranging of the upper and lower pieces creates a vertical repeat. To create a horizontal repeat, we use the same technique but this time swapping the right piece with the left piece. We then add or reposition the flowers in the middle of the print to close up any large gaps that might have appeared after rearranging the pieces.

4. Using colour layers and hue & saturation

Once the full repeat print is created, we can start to get creative. We enhance, or mute, the natural colours of the flowers using the Hue & Saturation tool to create a more classic style. We then add some additional colour layers and paint effects to create hyper-real or dramatic colour effects over the underlying flowers.

5. Using filters to dramatically change the original print.

Adobe Photoshop comes with an extensive range of filters (found in the filter gallery) that, when applied dramatically, change the aesthetics of the original print. Filters include: watercolour, glowing edges, poster edges, grain and much more. These filters can be used individually for subtle changes or in combination to create greater changes to the print. The effects of each filter vary and hundreds of different prints can be created using these filters alone. It is possibly the most interesting and creative part of the print design process. We also discuss what effect image size and resolution has on these filters.

6. Adding a palm layer

We’ve focused on creating a repeat print using just the lilies or flowers, but how do we add a new palm frond layer beneath the lily layer? Using the same technique as in steps 2 and 3, we create a fully repeating palm frond print in a separate document. We then cut and paste it into our lily print, resizing it to fit the existing lily repeat using the free transform tool. Once the palm layer is in place we can then enhance it by changing the hue and saturation and adding yet more colour layers (step 4). This creates a more dynamic print and gives us more to experiment with. Once the colour layers have been added we can then apply a range of filters to further develop the entire print.


7. Scale, sizing, and correction using your home printer

Once we have created our finished print, we need to check the scale of the print. We do this, by printing a section of the print on our home printer at 100% scale (not scale to fit). This will give us the exact size of our print and the size of the elements within it. We can then reduce or increase the image size of the print, in Adobe Photoshop, to get the correct scale or size.

We also need to check the colour and brightness of our print, since a computer screen is not always accurate. To do this, we use the same technique. We print, check and, if necessary, adjust the exposure or brightness of the print in Adobe Photoshop.

When it comes to the colour and brightness of your print, your computer screen and printer might not always be correct. It’s essential to send a test strip containing your print, in a range of different brightness/ colours, to the textile printers. When the strip comes back, you can then select the specific print with the brightness/ colour that works best and use that print when requesting the full material order.


8. File type, size and resolution of your finished print.

Saving your print as a file seems pretty straightforward but we need to consider the file type, size and resolution. Each textile print company will have their own specifications. We have chosen to use Spoon Flower as we’ve heard great things! They specifically ask that you save your print in one of the following formats: png, jpeg, giff or tiff. They also ask that the file be less than 40MB and has a resolution of 150dpi max.


Creating prints can be a time consuming process, especially when you are new to Adobe Photoshop. To help speed things up, we have created a few important artworks for you to use when following this tutorial. Each print artwork was created at important key stages in the design process. Downloading and using these artworks will enable you to practise or experiment with each stage of the tutorial.

Lily repeat

Lilies on black background in full repeat with no layers or filters.

Palm repeat

Palm fronds on black background in full repeat with no layers or filters.

Lily & palm repeat

Lilies and palm fronds on black background in full repeat with no layers or filters.

Lily & palm repeat

Lilies and palm fronds on black background in full repeat with multiple layers but no filters.

Finished prints

After an hour or two of experimenting with various layers and filters, here are a few of the textile prints that we came up with. We’ll add them to our mood boards and fashion illustrations of Francesca’s robe and present them to her for review. Once she’s picked her favourites we’ll use PatternLab’s made to measure basic blocks and patterns to pattern-make the finished garment!

Textile print template pack

Want to print your digital prints in full scale and full repeat on your home printer? Use our Textile Print Templates to create multi-page PDFs which can be stuck together after printing.

S1. EP5. Creating source imagery for floral print design

S1. EP5. Creating source imagery for floral print design

In this episode, we show you how to create your very own source imagery or stock imagery, allowing you to design and create fashion or textile prints. We show you how to set up your workspace, what lighting to use, which camera does the job and how to get the best shots of your flowers or subject matter. We also show you how to colour-correct your source imagery in Adobe Lightroom, ready to create your gorgeous textile prints in Adobe Photoshop.

Designing your own textile prints & creating source imagery

In the previous two episodes (EP3 and EP4), we designed a range of garments based on Francesca’s initial brief and inspirational imagery. Now that we have a collection of designs that suits the brief, we need to think about the material used to make the garment. From the very beginning of this project, we decided to create some gorgeous custom prints to match Francesca’s personality and compliment her skin tone. We even created a set of mood boards to inspire us as to what her prints might eventually look like. With these inspirational images in mind, we now start the process of designing and creating our own print. To do this, we first need to find or create the source imagery used to create our print.

What is source imagery?

Source imagery or stock imagery can be anything from graphics, illustrations, paintings, images, motifs – you name it! Essentially, they are the individual elements that go into building your finished print. You can either find this stock imagery online or create it yourself. 

Finding stock images online

There are a number of stock image sites online, such as iStock photo, Pexels, Shutterstock, Getty images, Adobe stock, Pixabay and Negative space.  Using stock imagery can be quite expensive, since most sites use licensing and charge a premium for each image. This is used to fund their services and the artists that provide the images. Finding the right stock imagery or elements to create your print can be time consuming and you’ll never get exactly what you are looking for. It’s often quicker to create your own!

Creating your own stock images

We highly recommend creating your own stock imagery. It’s a fun process that doesn’t break the bank or take too long and it provides hundreds of images that you can share and use for other print projects. We know some print designers that have vast personal libraries of their own stock imagery that they use time and time again when creating new prints for clients. Also, it’s completely free!

Creating source imagery for Francesca’s print 

For this particular print project, we’ve decided to go for a gorgeous dark background with tropical palm fronds as a base and then feature a top layer of stunning pink oriental lilies. To create this effect we need to create source imagery for both the palm fronds and the lilies. We’re using a dark background, so it makes sense to also take photos of our lilies and palm fronds on a dark background. Using a dark background will give us images that are as close to the finished print aesthetics as possible. The dark background will also change the lighting that we apply to the photo shoot. If we used a white background, we would have to cut the flowers out in Photoshop and then place them on a new digital background. This is time consuming and will give bad results. We’ve gone for a matt-black cotton rather than satin to limit the amount of shine reflecting off the material from either the camera’s flash or the natural light in the room. The matt-black cotton absorbs the light rather than reflecting it, which creates a great background for our source imagery.

Lights. Camera. Action!

When taking any photo, it’s really important to have a lot of natural light. The more natural light you have the sharper and brighter you images will be. Photos taken in low-light environments will have a lot of shadow and cause grain to appear on them. Too little light and your images might be unusable.

You might prefer to use a DSLR camera when taking your photos. That’s fine and you’ll probably get better results. However, not everyone has a DSLR so we’ve chosen to take our pictures using an iPad or iPhone. Camera phones these days take pretty amazing photos, so you should be fine!

We bought one bunch of lilies, which was more than enough to create hundreds of images. Lilies take days to bloom, so use this life cycle for your photos. Take images when the lilies are closed, partially open and then fully open. This will give you tons of imagery of your one bunch, making it seem as though you raided a florist’s shop. Just remember to use the same lighting, camera and setup each time you take your photos!

Positioning your flowers or lilies is key. Think about the angle from which you take your photo. Which angle shows off your lily to its fullest? If necessary, you can ask someone to wear a black glove (matching your background) and rotate the lilies as you take your photos. Don’t just take them from the side view, look into the flower itself. Also, think about the positioning in the frame or viewfinder of your camera. Ideally, you want your lilies to be dead centre, fully in shot and have plenty of black background around them. Petals and leaves that fall outside of the photo will make your source imagery unusable.

Define what you want your source imagery to look like! The lilies are beautiful as they come but sometimes we want a specific look or shape. Manipulate the aesthetics of the lilies by cutting off bits and combining pieces together to create new shapes and floral silhouettes. Possibly there are too many leaves, or not enough. Add bits and remove bits to get a beautiful shot.

It’s completely up to you how you go about creating your source imagery, but think about all the different aspects or images you can create using different angles of each individual flower. Really think about it and experiment. We’re going to take about 100-200 images of our lilies so we have a huge amount to choose from when it comes to building our print.

When you’re done, you should have heaps of images to choose from! Below are some of the images that we took. These have been retouched and cleaned up but we won’t discuss that here. Watch the video tutorial to find out more.

Source Imagery

Want to download and use all of our source imagery for your own print projects? Great! click the buttons below to download all the source imagery. The whole archive is around 300MB of data so we’ve split it up into easy to manage packs. Feel free to use our source imagery royalty free for both personal and commercial projects. All we ask is that you link back to this blog post and spread the word about PatternLab. 

What’s next?

In the next episode, we’ll start building our gorgeous tropical lily print using our source imagery. We’ll also explain placement prints, full repeat prints, filters, colours and scaling to give you a full understanding of print design techniques that you can apply to your own projects.

S1. EP4. Digital fashion illustration in Adobe Illustrator

S1. EP4. Digital fashion illustration in Adobe Illustrator

In this episode, we demonstrate how to transform our hand-drawn fashion illustrations and sketches from S1. EP3 into gorgeous precision digital artworks or digital fashion illustrations, using Adobe Illustrator CC. It’s a comprehensive tutorial that goes into a lot of detail about professional fashion drawing in Adobe Illustrator. It is supplementary to S1. EP3’s process of hand drawn fashion Illustration.

Fashion Illustration & Layers

Digital fashion illustration in Adobe Illustrator can be a tricky process especially if your illustrations are quite complex. It can be hard to get right without following some basic methodology. I know this because I’ve spent years playing with it. As with most digital artworks, layers are incredibly important and useful. Separating complex parts of your illustrations into layers, allows you to turn a very complicated illustration, with many elements, into manageable bite size pieces. Not only that, but it allows you to place collections of elements on top of others. This is very handy when you want trims or design elements to sit on top of the colour layer. If your elements are all combined on one layer you will have a very messy illustration that is hard to work with and change at a later date.

In this tutorial we show you how to create these layers and what parts of your illustration are kept on each layer. This will keep you fashion illustrations neat and easy to use. Think of it like a filing system. If all your important docs are in one big folder it becomes hard to find them quickly. If you categorise them into subfolders (layers) you will have a better chance of finding them and keeping track of them. We use four key layers when creating fashion illustrations. They’ve been listed below in order of appearance from top to bottom, with details about what they might contain.

The outline layer (Top layer):
The outline layer is the outline or silhouette or your garment. It is usually a thick outline that shows where parts of the garment start and finish. This layer is important and the line width must be quite thick to give your illustration some depth or dimension. This layer might also detail openings or finished edges within your garment. A pocket opening would have a think outline to demonstrate that it is not a seam or part of the garments construction. It is essentially a finished edge. 

The details layer (Middle layer):
This layer contains all of your trimmings, buttons, pocket flaps, cuffs… you name it! Anything that might be used to make up the details of your garment. Think of it as the “design details” part of your garment mentioned in S1 EP1 – The key concepts of fashion design. These can either be darts, seams or even trims. The trims are often self contained elements that might hold yet more details or can be filled with colour independent from the “body layer”.

The body layer (Middle layer):
The body layer is simply the outline of your garment, without a thick line. This layer could contain a flat-colour, print, fabric scan or texture. It is separated from the other layers to make it easy changing colours, prints and textures quickly without having to edit the whole illustration. It’s a simple layer with few details but a very important part of your fashion illustration all the same!

The model layer (Bottom layer):
The model layer is pretty self explanatory. In S1. EP3. we downloaded some fashion templates or fashion models from Pret-a-template and used them as a template to design on top of. Because we used this fashion template, it is important to also use it for the digital version of our fashion illustration. Luckily Pret-a-template provide digital copies of their fashion templates, so it’s a simple case of copying this model template and dropping it into the model layer of our illustration. The model layer sits at the very bottom so that our garment and all its various layers and components sit on top. 

More complicated fashion illustrations might need more layers but this is a really good starting point when it comes to the basics of fashion illustration in Adobe Illustrator. 

Line weight

As we mentioned above, line weight is important when it comes to creating illustrations with depth. Generally we use a thick outline for the finished edges and silhouette of our garment.  We use thinner lines for seams, stitch lines, creases, pleats and other design elements. We could even use a dotted or dashed line to highlight stitch lines. It’s completely up to you! Using a combination of line thickness, creates an almost 3D effect and goes a long way when beautifying our fashion illustrations. Bellow are some values that I use when creating our illustrations:

Outlines: 1.5px (Thickest)
Seams: 0.75px
Creases, folds, pleats: 0.35px

The thickness of these lines depends on the size of your fashion illustrations. For example, if you are working on an illustration that is on A3 these lines might appear quite thin. Similarly, if you used the same line thickness on an A4 page they would seem thicker. You can come up with your own line thicknesses but it is completely up to you and your illustration style!


Colour, print using clipping masks

In this tutorial we also show you how to add flat colour and a basic print to the “body layer” of your illustrations using clipping masks. This is a really important part of the tutorial. Adding colour, print or fabric texture will bring your illustrations to life! You can add pretty much anything you wish, whether it’s a simple colour fill, a print that you’ve made or even an image that you’ve created or downloaded. Adding a colour is the simplest way of bringing your designs to life, but it can look a bit basic – Flat colour has no depth or detail. Adding a print, texture or image to your illustration (using a clipping mask) gives the best results although slightly harder to pull off. Luckily the process or technique is exactly the same each time. once you have mastered it, you’ll be adding all kinds of things to the “body layer” of your illustration!



Below you will find some examples of my own digital fashion illustrations, created in Adobe Illustrator, using the Pret-a-template fashion templates. These artworks are free to download and use. Each illustration includes all the various layers, line widths, colours and prints. They should help you better understand the video tutorial and processes we use when creating fashion illustrations. 

Click image below to download fully editable fashion illustration pack.

The benefits of digital fashion illustration

Digitising your fashion illustrations or fashion drawings is not required. A lot of designers or illustrators are happy to present their hand-drawn fashion illustrations as is. It all really depends on your own personal taste and ability when illustrating by hand. To be honest, i’m (Ralph) not particularly talented at adding colour using traditional means, such as watercolour or coloured pencil – I rely heavily on the digital approach. I find the precision lines, depth of detail and ease and speed of changing colours, print and texture incredibly helpful when both conveying my ideas to the client and then adapting them to my clients needs after the initial brief. 

Although this tutorial is around 50 minutes long, it really doesn’t take that long to create each illustration. I’ve broken down the process and explained it in detail, which obviously takes longer than normal. It takes me around 10 minutes to create each individual fashion illustration in Adobe Illustrator, which is not long at all. If you are new to Illustrator it might take you considerably longer. The more time you dedicate to it the faster you will become. You can even copy and paste design elements such as: sleeves, necklines, outlines or even pockets to a new design, speeding up your design process even further. Either way, it’s a lot of fun to add colour and prints to your finished illustrations.


What’s next?

In the next episode we’ll show you how to create stunning fashion prints that can be printed on to a range of different fabrics, using digital fabric printing companies such as Spoonflower. We’ll buy a collection of flowers, take high definition imagery on a dark background and import them into Adobe photoshop. We’ll then cut them up, position them, change their colours, combine them with tropical leaves, and output them as full-size full-repeat digital artworks. It’ll be a lot of fun and should shed some light on professional digital printing techniques.

S1. EP3. Fashion design process using fashion templates from Pret-a-Template

S1. EP3. Fashion design process using fashion templates from Pret-a-Template

In this episode, we start to sketch out a range of garment designs based on our clients brief and our mood boards. We also talk about fashion templates: Where to find them and how to use them to quickly create fashion illustrations of our garment. We then discuss how to develop our designs further, by combining elements of our existing designs into hybrids that eventually lead to our finished design.

Getting started

Fashion design and illustration can be a lot of fun, it can also be a time consuming and frustrating process especially if you are not familiar with it. There are a number of tools and processes that we use to ease this process. This post aims to help shed some light on those tools and how we use them to speed up our design process.  

Fashion templates & proportions

Fashion templates are a fantastic resource and will help you design quickly and effortlessly. They are essentially illustrations or outlines of the human form and come in a range of different shapes and sizes. Some are proportionate and others are stylised or exaggerated. Completing a simple image search for fashion templates or model templates  on Google will give you hundreds of results that you can download and use (license permitting).

Back in 2003, we didn’t have fashion templates and had to create our own. We had to painstakingly draw both model and garment for each design – It’s amazing we ever got any work done. On the plus side, It honed our illustration skills and pushed us to come up with our own unique illustration style.

Luckily, there are now hundreds of templates available that will speed up the design process. allowing you to focus on the important job of actually designing!


Pret-a-template is a company that specialises in digital fashion illustration. They also have an App that allows you to create fashion illustrations directly on your phone or tablet. They provide some free fashion templates that come in a range of different styles and genders. Their fashion and model templates give you a good starting point to work from and are for free! We have used their least stylised female templates as a base when designing Francesca’s robe, simply because they are free and editable within Adobe Illustrator.

My Body Model

My Body Model is a hot topic in the sewing community and features fashion templates that are automatically custom drawn based on you or your clients measurements. The product is fab but it comes at a cost. Each template retails at around £22. You can view their site and templates here.

Proportionate templates (templates that match you or your client) are incredibly useful, since the proportions of the body do affect the garment you are designing. Using model templates that do not accurately represent your clients measurements could cause the beautiful proportions of your dress  to look odd, or out of proportion, when toiling up your garment. Your garment might not look how you imagined it on paper! This is also true for pattern makers. If you want to employ someone to create your patterns for you, they need accurate drawings to work from. I know plenty of pattern makers that get frustrated with inaccurate or over stylised fashion illustrations. It’s harder to interpret the designer’s vision and they have more meetings than necessary!


The design process

Once we have chosen our model templates, we can now start the design process. We use our mood boards and the four key concepts of fashion design (mood, silhouette, design details and  colour/ print) to start things off.

Essentially, we are combining our inspiration and ideas to create new hybrids of those existing ideas. Think of it like cross pollinating two plants or flowers. How would you combine a tulip and a rose? What elements are the most beautiful from each? Would you use the stem of a rose and the petal of a tulip? Possibly you might combine the shape of a rose petal with the colour of a tulip petal. What would be the outcome? Similarly, take a silhouette from your mood boards, add a sleeve, a neckline, a pocket, change it up, use a different silhouette but this time with the same sleeve or neckline. This is the essence of designing. Your first attempts might look awful! If so, how would you adapt your first design to create something better than the last design?

Click image above to download fully editable SVG designs. 

Discover the elements or features that you love. Develop them further to find out why you like them. Eventually, you will find the sleeve, neckline, trim, details, and skirt shape that you love. Once you have a better idea of what you like you can start building your designs with more focus or direction.

It’s also important to mention that attention to detail is key! Sure, spend some time hashing through your ideas by quickly sketching but once you have a strong idea of what you want and how the elements of your designs work together, you should spend more time on actually drawing your design. Be careful, have patience, make sure your lines are straight, clean and accurate. Eventually you will start to see the results. The more you develop your ideas and combinations the better your designs will become!

One last thing… Always think about your client and the brief when you are designing. It’s easy to get carried away and diverge from the important aspects of the garment. Aspects that have been specified by your client. You can diverge, just make sure the client’s needs are still covered. It’s a balance between your own design and the clients brief. Most importantly enjoy and explore your ideas. Draw ten, twenty or one hundred garment ideas. Your designs will evolve and become unique and special!

What’s next?

In the next episode, we will explain how to turn your fashion illustrations, or hand drawn sketches, into gorgeous digital illustrations using Adobe Illustrator. Not only that but we’ll also show you how to add colours, prints and even textures to bring your designs to life. Your designs will become beautiful accurate precision drawings perfect for presentations and debriefings with your clients!

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