Technical Drawing by Hand Using the Generic Template – Flats: Technical Drawing for Fashion


Once you have laid out your garment correctly, you are ready to start drawing. This step-by-step sequence shows how to make of a flared skirt using the technique of speed designing, and subsequently demonstrates how to complete the flats.


Tracing paper

Layout paper (45 gsm) or any semiopaque paper that you can still see through over a light box

Sheets of white paper, Letter or Legal sized

Low-tack adhesive tape to secure your tracing paper over templates

Use of a photocopier, to enlarge and reduce drawings in the draft stages

Mechanical pencil with HB leads (0.5mm) (Do not use pencils any softer then HB, or the line will not be fine enough)

Black fine liner pens:

• 0.01mm for ultra fine stitch detail

• 0.1mm for stitch and seam detail

• 0.3mm for all main lines except stitch detail

• 0.6mm/0.8mm for outline definition if needed for line boards or presentation purposes (fine-line fiber-tip pens tend to give a sharper line than nylon-tip pens)

6 in (15cm) flat rule

12 in (30cm) flat rule (with right angle and parallel guides) or a set square

French curve


Scalpel or craft knife with blades


Place your template beneath a letter-size piece of tracing paper. Adhere the tracing paper to the template with low-tack tape. With a pencil and using a long rule, draw a vertical line through the center of the template, and right down the page. You will now draw the left- or right-hand side of the garment only, depending on what feels more natural to you. Draw on one side only. When drawing remember that you are only drawing half the garment.


Using your set square, mark the waistline at right angles to the center line. Mark the position of the kneeline with a set square too. These markers will help you make sure your drawing is in proportion later.


Draw a skirt style on one side of the template. Rotating the paper sometimes makes it easier to "disconnect" yourself from the idea that you are drawing a garment and allows you to focus on creating smooth and accurate lines. Use a rule if necessary when straight lines are required, and draw freehand or use a French curve to achieve smooth curves. A rule with right-angle guidelines will be useful to ensure accuracy.


With a white sheet of paper beneath (to enable you to see what you are drawing), trace the lines of the flared skirt through to the other side of the center line. Be careful when working with pencil on tracing paper, as lines may smudge. This is why you should use an HB or harder lead.


When you have completed your style, remove the template. Fold the tracing paper in half along the vertical center line, with the side on which you have drawn the half of the skirt on the outside. Make sure you fold the tracing paper as accurately as possible on the center line when tracing through, or you will find that the final drawing is not symmetrical and will have to start again.


Open out the tracing paper and tidy up your drawing, going over any faint lines. Make sure that any lines crossing the center-front vertical line are smooth and at right angles. Consider how one would get in and out of the garment; add in openings and fastenings. At this stage you can either complete your flat (follow the written instructions in steps 9–11) or use the technique of speed designing to continue to make of the style.


Speed designing omits the sketch phase of design work and is particularly useful if you are working on uncomplicated, more commercial design ideas, especially if given specific guidelines by a client who, for example, might commission a line of casual skirts or jackets. Once a garment style has been drawn using the generic template, that style can then be used as a template for developing of that garment. Working with your knowledge of construction and pattern cutting, you will be able to draw real working garments, rather than just sketching out rough ideas. Every line you draw will be valid and in the correct position.

All the design development is worked in pencil on tracing paper to create a series of roughs. Each design may inspire another variation; sometimes a simple alteration to a drawing, such as a change in skirt length, waist height, or pants width, will produce a completely new alternative. Small differences between styles will provide more options for selection. can be produced at great speed, accelerated by drawing only half the garment. Each rough may take as little as a couple of minutes to draw, allowing numerous design solutions to be explored.

By working from the generic template, all subsequent styles will be in proportion to each other; an advantage if they are all finally to be positioned together on one page, such as on a line plan. The advantage of working in this way over sketching is speed, allied to drawings that are "real" clothes. Once you have mastered the basic principles of speed designing, you will be able to develop your own unique way of applying the process to suit your needs.


Using the speed designing technique, here we will use this drawing to create another skirt, this time a knee-length style with a high waist. Place the original traced drawing over the template again, then place a new sheet of tracing paper on top. Draw the center-front line. Make sure all three sheets are secured with low-tack tape.


You can continue to create styles using your original drawing, one style developing into another. There are endless possibilities, and just by changing the length or seam details you can create a new design. In this drawing there are four possible style options: two high waists (different lengths) and two dropped waists (flared and straight).

Once you have a style you want to develop, you may work on a full drawing (not just one side), particularly if the style is complex or asymmetric.


To complete your flat, select one of your designs. You can finish the process by hand or scan the drawing and complete it using CAD (see pages 33–34, steps 7–9). To complete by hand, place your tracing beneath a piece of layout paper and secure it with low-tack tape. You can also work on a light box at this stage, if you have one available, or on a window. You may need to darken the lines of your tracing in order to see it through the layout paper. Test the paper, making sure your pen doesn’t "bleed" on it. Trace over the lines of your design using a 0.3 fine-line fiber-tip pen.


Use a 0.01 fine-line fiber-tip pen to draw in stitches or any fine detailing. If you have a very detailed garment, enlarge your original pencil drawing on a photocopier and draw as large as is comfortable. When the drawing is complete, reduce back down to the required proportions. Remember to note the percentage increase so that you can reduce the drawing back down accurately, otherwise this drawing will be disproportionate to others if featured in a group or on a line board.


For a particular effect, or if desired, using a 0.8 fine-line fiber-tip pen, draw a heavy black line around the outside lines of your drawing (this would not be used on a spec or costing sheet, only if the drawing is to be used for presentation purposes).

Your flat is now ready to photocopy, scan or use as you wish.


Once you have completed the front view of a garment, you can use it to develop the back view. The external silhouette will be almost identical to that of the front view. Here we will continue with an example of a skirt. Follow the exercise below to see how first one style morphs into another, then how a back view is easily created from a front.


Using a rule, draw a center line on a piece of tracing paper. Working from the last straight, high-waisted style, develop a low-waisted A-line skirt in pencil, working in half on tracing paper. Draw lines for both the front and back view at the same time.


Trace off half the silhouette along this center line. Once you have the entire back view, check for symmetry and make any adjustments.


You may find it useful to use a colored pencil at this stage so that you can clearly see the lines you are drawing over the template. When working out a back view, make sure any seams from the front joining the side are followed through from the exact same point, unless different. Don't forget to include openings.


1   If you are drawing a very detailed garment, you may wish to work on legal-size paper so that you can more easily draw complex details and reduce the size later when you scan it in or reduce it on a photocopier.

2   Never use softer than an HB lead, or your drawing line will not be fine enough for accuracy, and it will smudge.

3   Be prepared to redraw until your rough drawing is how you want it.

4   Always use low-tack adhesive tape to secure tracings to stop the paper moving around.

5   Rotate your drawing throughout the process: it is easier to draw smooth lines when a line is vertical rather than horizontal.

6   Always make sure a line crossing the center-front or center-back is at a right angle, for symmetry.

7   Use a rule where necessary for straight lines, but blend through at a curve to soften. Never draw a curve with a rule!

8   Never use a fine-line pen on tracing paper as it will not dry and will smudge: only use it on layout paper.

9   Wash hands regularly when working on tracings to avoid smudges.

10 Work in good overhead light so that you can see through the layout paper, or ideally work on a light box.

11 You may have to start a final pen drawing a few times because of wobbly lines: have patience.

12 Always try to work with a sheet of white paper under your work as it will absorb any excess lead when tracing as well as show up a tracing under layout paper better when you are producing a final pen drawing.

13 When working on your final pen drawing, clean the edge of the ruler as often as possible, as the edge collects ink and this may transfer to your drawing.

14 Use a variety of fine-line pens (0.05 and 0.1-0.3) to add depth to your final drawing.