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

by | Mar 5, 2019 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

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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