Hints and Tips – Flats: Technical Drawing for Fashion



Flats should include only the essential details. If you are drawing from an existing garment, do not draw any wrinkles or flaws in the fabric or construction. Apply a little "cosmetic surgery" and draw only what is necessary. Look at the flats in the second half of this book to gain an idea of what to include and what not to include. Below are some basic hints and tips addressing common mistakes often found in technical drawing, using some classic styles as guidelines. Think about the 3D form of the human body and how a garment may need to be cut to fit and be comfortable. An understanding of pattern cutting and garment construction will assist you with information and drawing tips.

Above all, don’t imagine or "make up" how details on the garment should look. If you are unsure about how to draw something, it is best to find an existing garment and draw what you see from that, using existing details as a guide. Don't draw flaws or mistakes.

Avoid overemphasizing details, which might turn the style into something else. Don’t be tempted to make your drawing "prettier" with "swirly" or "fancy" lines—leave that for your final fashion illustration.

Finally, avoid the urge to get carried away with your own artistic interpretation. Flats are not the place for self-expression. The purpose behind a technical drawing is to convey information as simply, clearly, and accurately as possible. Drawing a skirt as the one above, right, runs the risk of the pattern cutter interpreting this as a wavy hem.


If ever you are unsure of how a garment should be drawn, find something similar and check.

Tops of pants are usually curved. The back of the pants waistband is usually visible on a front view, so add it in. However, if the suggested fabric is a stretch material (for example), then it may be drawn straight across. Do not draw overly concave or convex waistbands.

The top of a skirt should usually be drawn straight across, apart from when a style is low waisted – then it would need to be gently curved.

A basic back neck will ALWAYS be curved, to allow for comfort and neck movement. A common mistake is to draw it straight across or concave.

Hems are often drawn curved, but you should only draw a curved hem if that's how you intend it to be. For narrow sleeves (above) and pants (below), the hem should be drawn straight. For wider styles, curve the hem.

A common mistake is to draw the collar as if it is disconnected from the shoulder seam.

The backs of shirt collars should be gently curved inward: they should never be drawn straight across or exaggeratedly concave or convex.

ALWAYS use one template when working on a body of work, as this will ensure that tops and bottoms will remain in proportion to one another. If you reduce or enlarge a drawing at any time, make a note of the percentage, so that everything can be brought back to the same size. Imagine that all your drawings are to fit the same figure, so they should all be in proportion.


The directory in the second half of this book is offered as a guide to interpreting 3D garments, styling details, and hardware in 2D form. There are some conventions for indicating difficult to draw or partially hidden details – such as the crotch area on pants or a concealed zip – on flats. Those offered in this book are one interpretation, but as long as you follow the basic guidelines for technical drawing, you can develop your own versions.

Though subtly different, these three flats show different but equally correct ways of drawing the front crotch on a pair of pants.

Flare is often difficult to draw—again, to be accurate, use an existing garment and lay it out, focusing on the flared hem, and draw what you see. Give a sense of movement and drape of the fabric.

There are two ways of drawing gathers. It helps to use a finer line for these delicate drawings. Depending on the fullness of the gathers, additional lines (above right) may be added.

Fly fronts may be drawn with or without the zipper "pull," indicated near left.

Side zippers are usually fairly well concealed, so indicate them with a zipper "pull" and/or a small diagonal stitch. Never draw the actual teeth of the zipper.


Sometimes it is necessary to show the interior of a garment, particularly if the specification includes any detailing on the inside, a colored or fancy lining, or internal stitching, for example.

In these cases you should draw either from the existing garment or, if none exists and you are unsure what to do, find a similar garment, lay it out flat and open the section you wish to see.

An "open" garment would accompany a front view on a spec sheet, a line board or a design presentation sheet.

Sometimes detailing travels from front to back over a side seam, or is set in a side seam, so an additional view—such as this side view—may be required.

Sometimes tiny details need to be magnified, for example if they are being shown on a spec sheet. Enlarge a required area and show it next to the drawing.

Sometimes you may wish to show a garment unfastened as well as fastened. A sarong, for example, may just be a rectangle of fabric when unfastened and placed flat on the floor, so draw it as such.

Sometimes it is necessary to show information on the back of a sleeve. Draw it as if it is folded back. If you are drawing by hand, photocopy your finished drawing, then cut out the drawing carefully. Fold back the sleeve section and re-draw the placket or detailing, then photocopy the amended drawing and use like an original.


When using the generic template to draw a close-fitting style, you should fit the garment to the outline and shape of the template. Outerwear, however, needs to be drawn slightly larger than the outline of the template as, naturally, these garments are worn over other garments. When drawing outerwear, therefore, you need to work outside the generic template.

For ultimate accuracy, if you are working on a coordinating line and need to present all drawings on a line board, you may use the generic template with, for example, a dress, then draw the coat or jacket over this to ensure correct proportions.


If you need to draw a very detailed style and are working by hand, first produce the basic garment with all seams. Enlarge the drawing on a photocopier and, using a fine-line pen, add in top stitching and fine detail. Reduce the drawing on a photocopier once it is complete, and the detailing and stitching will be intricate and accurately represented. You may also want to show enlarged images of particularly detailed or elaborate sections for clarity.