Personal Croquis

To make good pattern choices, it’s useful to have a drawing of our own body shape.

Fashion designers often sketch their styles over a drawing of the human body which is called a croquis. You can even get pre-printed pads of them – though those are for ideal model bodies. (‘Croquis’ is a french word pronounced ‘crow-kee’.)

As Imogen Lamport points out in her Body Shape Bible, there are 3 important aspects of your body shape :
– your silhouette from the front (me – I have an indented waist, and larger hips under prominent high hips),
– your length proportions (me – I’m very short waisted, so most style advice for people with a small waist makes me look all hip),
– your special features (me – small bust, flat rear, protruding tummy).

Here’s my body image for wearing a fitted top and belt.
No insult intended to hobbits, but I don’t think this is an ideal look for a human. It is the sort of thing you may be able to check for by using a croquis.

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Making your personal croquis

Here are 4 possible approaches.

In the recommended method for making a personal croquis, you are supposed to :
– take a photo of yourself in your undies
– trace round the outline of your photo so you have a drawing of your body silhouette.
– sketch the proposed garment over this body shape diagram, to see if it suits.

There are very detailed instructions on making a croquis from photos in Gale Grigg Hazen’s book ‘Fantastic fit for every body’ (best selection of copies from AbeBooks).

Drawing neatly around the edge of a silhouette is not something I have the skills to do (I have shaky hands).
What I did was print the photo out on card. Cut out around the photo, and turn it over so I’m not distracted by the details of the photo.

Get someone else to do the drawing for you, though you still have to take the photos. Here’s a service from Najah Carroll.

No photos needed. Use a drawing which has been computer-generated from some basic body measurements : My Body Model.
The shape they draw doesn’t work for everyone. They don’t include the special features of my body (such as sloping shoulders and high hip bones) which are the reason why I need help with knowing what shapes look good on me.

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Using a personal croquis

When you use one of these aids for getting a picture of your own shape, you still have to do your own sketching of possible styles. My Body Model have a beginners’ video on that.

I’m not much good at that, so I often simply compare my shape by eye with a line diagram of a pattern I’m interested in. Less accurate, but gives a starter idea.

Here for example is me, compared with Sewing Workshop’s Deja Vu pattern. Oh dear, obviously not. Though I love the style it’s not for me.


Sadly, it would make me look like a balloon ! I may make it even so. The construction looks intriguing, and it would be a cosy cuddle-up for winter. But I won’t expect it to be flattering 😀

(This version of my body shape is the diagram for a short-waisted pear from the former Littlewood’s site information about Trinny and Susannah. Sadly the diagrams are not in their body shape book.
The big differences from my actual shape are that I’m unusually short from armhole to waist, and as I have a long head+neck my length proportions are unusual.)

And how about this Issey Miyake Vogue 1114 design, which Vogue Patterns recommend for the triangular of shape. Maybe it would look good on some of us, but I don’t think it’s worth trying for me.


While this Vogue 8509 dress pattern, with it’s vertical bodice pleats, could be something I would wear, if these days I ever did have reason to wear a dress.


Making this comparison has been a real ‘eye opener’. I thought I was allowing for my ‘bottom heavy’ shape in making pattern choices, but I’ve completely changed the patterns I go for since I started using this tool.

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Originally written August 09, updated May 2020, patterns not now available.

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