Distraction to Focus: Sewing Plans with Paper Dolls

Do your sewing plans ever fall by the wayside as shiny new patterns catch your eye? Tiffaney had a focus breakthrough! Read on to see her newfound solution to narrowing down her sewing list, and bringing her wardrobe dreams to life – with a little help from her MyBodyModel paper doll.


If I were to describe the type of sewist I am, I would describe myself as easily distracted. I want to sew everything! I want to sew the newest pants from the independent pattern maker that is trending on social media, I am dreaming of those classic designs from the big four pattern companies… and oh! Is that a high-waisted bathing suit?! My eyes grow wider and wider as I peruse the internet, the blogosphere and social media, wishing I had the time to sew everything.

Reality eventually sets in though. I work full-time, and I am a mother and wife. The time I have to devote to sewing is limited. So, I ask myself, how can I make the most of my ‘sewing time’? How can I finish the garments that I intend to make without being distracted by the newest or trending? How can I make flattering pieces that integrate with my current wardrobe? I pondered these questions and, eventually, I found a potential solution: Seamwork‘s course called Design Your Wardrobe.

Creating a Mood Board

In the course, I learned to think like a designer. I created a mood board to inspire my future makes. My mood board then inspired my collection name:Tropical Citrus.

A mood board featuring photos of Janet Jackson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Lisa Bonet as style inspiration for Tiffaney's sewing plans.
Janet Jackson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Lisa Bonet are my constant style inspiration.
A mood board with photos of actors, artwork, and colorful scenery as inspiration for Tiffaney's sewing plans.
More inspiration from my style icons

My collections would be bright, colorful pieces that seamlessly fit in with my current wardrobe. I am focusing on comfort and making pieces that flatter me!

Designing for My Body and My Shape

In the Design your Wardrobe course, the suggestion was given of using croquis to play dress-up with patterns. I have taken fashion illustration courses at Cañada College and I have experience using croquis. The croquis I have used in fashion illustration courses are long limbed, very willowy figures. The figures we were taught to draw are not realistic: the fashion figures are an idealization, an over exaggeration of the human form. Needless to say, those fashion croquis do not look like me! 

I wanted to use a croquis to represent my body and my shape. My brain zinged: I already have croquis with my specific body measurements I could use for this exercise! I could use my MyBodyModel croquis to test out how I would look in different patterns and determine the patterns that fit my specific collection criteria.

I pulled out my MyBodyModel croquis and set to testing out patterns on my body. I found my pencils, erasers, fine-tipped markers, and colored markers and got to work. 

I used my croquis as my paper doll. I colored in my croquis with a skin toned marker to make a not-so-naked version of my body, and I made designs I was interested in from the Seamwork pattern flats.

Tiffaney's MyBodyModel croquis is colored in on a page surrounded by various paper garments drawn in ink and cut out as a visual representation of her sewing plans.

I used the fashion illustration techniques I learned to give the garments dimension and volume. I found that drawing in pencil and then outlining in pen gave the garments strong lines and helped me to envision what the patterns would look like on my body. I keep the garments white as not to distract with color or pattern. 

Then I played dress up! I laid ‘garments’ over my body and found that some really popped and others did not.

Creating a Sewing Plan

At the completion of the Design Your Wardrobe course, I used my my MyBodyModel croquis to make project plans for my future makes. I had fun in both creating the paper garments and playing dress up. I was able to see that some skirt lengths looked better on my body than others.

For example, I knew I definitely wanted to make the Amber dress from Seamwork.

A spread of Tiffaney's MyBodyModel paper doll croquis wearing a paper garment version of the Amber dress from Seamwork alongside a teapot and cup of tea, cup of colored markers and pens, and a sheet for sewing project plans.

The Lane dress is also in my project plans.

A spread of Tiffaney's MyBodyModel paper doll croquis wearing a paper garment version of the Lane dress from Seamwork alongside a teapot and cup of tea, several colored markers, and a sheet for sewing project plans.

After the Lane dress, I am planning on making the Marlow shirt and the Dorian shorts.

A spread of Tiffaney's MyBodyModel paper doll croquis wearing a paper garment version of the Marlow shirt and Dorian shorts from Seamwork alongside a teapot and cup of tea, several colored markers, and two sheets for project plans.

I found that I needed loungewear, so I plan to make the Kaye set.

A spread of Tiffaney's MyBodyModel paper doll croquis wearing a paper garment version of the Kaye loungewear set from Seamwork alongside a teapot and cup of tea, cup of colored markers and pens, and a sheet for sewing project plans.

Looking Ahead

I was drawn to the Design Your Wardrobe course and MyBodyModel because I wanted to be strategic about my making. Upon completion, I have a mood board and personal aesthetic for my future makes. I developed project plans based on garments I need, and this process has given me a tool for assessing future pattern excitement. 

No longer will I be easily distracted by the newest, trendiest patterns. I have developed a skill: looking at pattern flats, I can create a paper garment and place it on my body. Then, I can use a critical eye to decide if a pattern will look good on me and determine if it fits my criteria. 

I foresee that previewing patterns on my body will cut down the time I use on pattern selection and up the amount of time I can dedicate to making garments.


Are you inspired to try designing your own wardrobe, paper doll style? Let us know in the comments!

This post is not sponsored by Seamwork, but it’s no secret that here at MyBodyModel we are big fans! To see more ways MyBodyModel and Seamwork’s Design Your Wardrobe program work so well together, check out our recent video collaboration: “How to Find the Best Silhouette for Your Body and Style” & “How to Sketch Your Sewing Plans” on YouTube! Still think you can’t draw? Try our Paper Dolls for Grownups beginner fashion drawing classes online and you may just be surprised!

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