Amanda shares her fashion sketching process on MyBodyModel

My Sketching Process: From 9-Head Fashion Figures to Designing for My Body

After years of imagining clothes on unrealistic figures, Amanda has completely transformed her fashion sketching process to design in a way that honors her body and style. She shares her personal fashion journey, and walks us through her updated sketching process for “trying on” new designs, pattern hacks, & outfit ideas with confidence.


“The MyBodyModel croquis is really like a grown-up paper doll that helps you appreciate your own proportions and plan your sewing projects in a way that honors your unique form.”

– Amanda

I was introduced to the traditional nine-head fashion croquis as a recent high school grad, when I attended a fashion sketching workshop at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I managed to hang onto the paper template they gave me for many years, and I got a lot of practice drawing clothes on these exaggerated fashion figures. For the most part these designs lived on paper for fun and creative expression, and it didn’t really occur to me that I could bring them to life for everyday wear.

Amanda's old sketches, such as these five fantastical designs based on historical costumes, were sketched on the nine-head exaggerated fashion figures she learned about in workshop about the fashion sketching process.
Fantastical designs based on historical costume, sketched on fantastical fashion figures.

Fast forward to 2020, when I was finishing college as the pandemic hit. I got a sewing machine a month into lockdown, which ended up being one of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made! I signed up for the local company Seamwork’s Design Your Wardrobe program to give me a place to start in making my own clothes, and there I was introduced to MyBodyModel.

I was so used to working with idealized figures and, coming from a costuming and ‘editorial fashion’ place, it really was a shift to think about what sewing projects that suited my real body, and my real lifestyle, could look like. I was really impressed with how the measurements created an accurate line drawing, and for the first time I was really able to see the lines of my body instead of imagining clothes on an unrealistic ideal.

On the left is one of Amanda's fashion sketches of a long sleeved shirt jumpsuit combo on a traditional 9-head fashion croquis, and on the right is a sketch of a blouse and short skirt on her MyBodyModel croquis made to Amanda's actual measurements.
On the left is one of my fashion sketches on a traditional 9-head fashion croquis, and on the right is a sketch on my MyBodyModel croquis, made to my actual measurements. This makes it so much easier to visualize how an outfit will look on me!

About a year into my wardrobe sewing journey, I stumbled into the world of Kibbe body typing, a personal styling system based on the book Metamorphosis by David Kibbe. In a nutshell, the Kibbe system rejects the idea that people should try to fit an ideal figure (i.e. a skinny hourglass), but rather provides a spectrum of different physical archetypes that can help you understand your own proportions. The key to great personal style in the Kibbe philosophy is making the most of your own unique balance of visual elements: vertical vs. horizontal lines, width vs. narrowness, curved vs. straight lines, etc. There is no one ideal to strive for other than your own best self.

It’s a great system, but one of its biggest flaws is that it’s not easy for most people to be able to see themselves objectively. Kibbe experts often recommend drawing the shape of your body over a photograph of yourself, but MyBodyModel takes that idea to the next level.

Ultimately, I’ve learned it’s not necessarily as important to know which specific Kibbe type you fit in as much as it is to understand how to dress your own individual proportions and shapes. The MyBodyModel croquis is really like a grown-up paper doll that helps you appreciate your own proportions and plan your sewing projects in a way that honors your unique form.

“For the first time I was really able to see the lines of my body instead of imagining clothes on an unrealistic ideal.”

– Amanda
Amanda is sketching an idea for the Wilder gown top by Friday pattern company with a vintage leather skirt from her closet following her MyBodyModel croquis sketching process.
Sketching an idea for the Wilder gown top by Friday pattern company with a vintage leather skirt from my closet.

Along with my sketching process, making a toile in muslin is an important step to see how proportions work in a full ensemble. Here you can see some of my sketches and toiles side by side:

Amanda's sketching process also includes making a muslin toile to visualize proportions. Here is a side by side image of her MyBodyModel sketch and Amanda wearing a toile of the Rita Blouse from Charm Patterns and the Yarrow Dress from Mood Fabrics with the Tatjana trousers from Just Patterns.
From sketch to muslin: Playing with a toile mashup of the Rita Blouse from Charm Patterns and the Yarrow Dress from Mood Fabrics with the Tatjana trousers from Just Patterns.
Amanda's sketching process also includes making a toile out of muslin to visualize proportions. Here is a side by side image of a MyBodyModel sketch and Amanda wearing a toile of a Wilder Blouse and a skirt version of the Varma shorts by Named Clothing.
Pictured here are the sketch and toile of a Wilder Blouse and my skirt version of the Varma shorts by Named Clothing.

My Design Sketching Process

Though my sketching process was more structured when I started out, recently I’ve been focusing on sewing for the love of creativity. Nowadays, it depends on the project as to whether I use drawing to come up with the initial idea or somewhere else along the way of making a garment.

Since the MyBodyModel template makes it very quick to have an accurate figure of myself, I love that I’m able to quickly create multiple sketches as an idea evolves. 

One of my favorite time-saving tricks using MyBodyModel is to use quick sketches to ‘try on’ patterns I’m thinking of buying or for trying different outfit combinations together. Sometimes it’s all for the sake of dreaming, and other times I use what’s in my closet. It’s perfect for those moments when it would feel like too much work to try on a lot of things, but I still need to figure out how to style a me-made garment.

Three of Amanda's drawings on her MyBodyModel croquis showing her experimentation with the front and back views of different styling variations on the Wilder blouse and a few hacked designs from Building the Pattern by Named Clothing.
These drawings on MyBodyModel show how I’ve experimented with different styling variations on the Wilder blouse and a few hacked designs from Building the Pattern by Named Clothing.

I still use the first (well-loved) MyBodyModel I printed out, and for everyday sketching I simply place it under my sketchbook page and start tracing. If I want to do something more polished, I’ll secure the paper underneath with drafting dots.

Amanda sketches a shirt over her MyBodyModel croquis as she looks at an image of the skirt pattern on her laptop in the distance for reference.
Using a pattern photo reference for a sketch of the Frankie wrap skirt by Made Label.

I start with mechanical pencil, and once I have my shapes down I’ll erase most of the pencil. If I’m doing full color, I’ll add it at this point. I mostly use colored pencils and watercolor pencils, but for this sketch I added some traditional watercolor.

Amanda's sketching process involves sketches on her MyBodyModel croquis in mechanical pencil, an eraser to erase the pencil if adding color, coloring tools like watercolors, and a fabric swatch to find the best color for each garment.
Using a fabric swatch to find the best color for my drawing.

After the color is down, I go in with pens of a couple of different widths to trace over my pencil lines and add dimension to the drawing. I start with a very fine tip over all of the original pencil lines then carefully erase any extra pencil. I then add depth with a wider pen to the heavier parts of the garments, i.e. the hems, and to bring out folds, pleats, and other details.

Amanda uses a fine line pen over her colored MyBodyModel croquis sketches to add depth and detail. Pictured is her drawing over a sketch of a green Frankie skirt and matching green sweater from her closet.
Amanda uses a fine line pen over her colored MyBodyModel croquis sketches to add depth and detail. Pictured is Amanda's front and back croquis sketch of a green Frankie skirt and matching green sweater from her closet, a pen, a watercolor palette, and a reference fabric swatch.
A complete drawing of the Frankie skirt paired with a sweater from my closet.

Keeping my MyBodyModel sketch of my current project on the wall is a great motivator and helps keep my imagination from wandering too much as I sew.

Amanda's fashion sketching process involves pinning up her finished MyBodyModel sketches up on the wall for motivation. Pictured here is a project in the works on Amanda's sewing machine with her current project front and back view sketch on the wall in the background.
Putting together the waistband of the Frankie skirt with my MyBodyModel sketch up on the wall for extra motivation.

This wrap skirt turned out fantastic, and since I started with a drawing that paired it with a garment I already owned, I didn’t have to spend extra time figuring out what to wear with it.

Amanda is pictured with her front and back MyBodyModel croquis sketches of a green Frankie skirt and matching green sweater from her closet alongside three shots of her finished make.
My completed Frankie skirt and MyBodyModel sketch.

Ultimately, sewing your own wardrobe should be fun and rewarding, as well as tailored to your body and lifestyle. 

MyBodyModel really has been an indispensable tool in that process.

8 thoughts on “My Sketching Process: From 9-Head Fashion Figures to Designing for My Body”

  1. Theresa Hofstetter

    Thank you, Amanda for taking the time to share the details of your process and how it has evolved. For some reason, this is the first time that I have seen sketching clothes I want to make as a creative activity on its own. For quite some time now (years!) I have been trying to get back to the creative practice I enjoyed as a young person. Somehow, this feels like a very accessible way to do that. You have inspired me.

    Also, I love that all the My Body Model blog posts include the pattern names of the garments sketched. I always see something that catches my interest.

    1. You’re welcome Theresa, and thank you for your lovely comment. It can really be a challenge to maintain a creative practice over time; that makes me very happy to hear sharing was inspiring. Here’s wishing you a fun time with your fashion sketching adventures!

  2. Hi Amanda,
    I enjoyed your article and kept thinking. “She needs to publish this in the ‘Threads’ magazine.” I just received the current copy of Threads and the editor included an invitation for sewists to submit articles. I have been subscribing for a number of years and I haven’t seen any articles about using My Body Model. Enjoy your life and keep being a creative sewists.

    1. Hi Glenna,
      Thanks so much for the suggestion, that’s not something I had not thought of. I hope you enjoy your creative journey as well!

  3. Hi Amanda!

    Thank you for sharing your creativity with us, very inspiring!
    Do you mind share the name of your sketchbook? Impressed that you can trace over your BodyModel with it and that you can also use watercolors on it!

    1. Hi Linda, thank you so much! The sketchbook is a Strathmore Vision Sketchbook; it’s not meant for painting and does get a little rumply when you apply water, but nothing too noticeable.

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