Hot! Fashion Drawing: How to Do It

For some reason, it had never occurred to me to look at old books for my sewing inspirations. I usually just walk quickly pass book displays at antique stores (they just seem so overwhelmingly vast) and not give a second thought to the treasures those shelves may contain.

A couple weeks ago, on an antique shopping trip to Sebastopol, I found this book from 1939 — Fashion Drawing: How to Do It. It's pretty wonderful. And though I'm not an artist and can't draw, it's certainly a great resource for learning about fashion terms and methods (like how to draw fabric prints).

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Very interesting!

  2. Oh waw! As a graphic designer and seamstress I’ve been very interested in fashion drawing. There are so many styles in it! Of course I’m crazy about the fashion drawings from the fifties.
    And jeesh! I can’t imagine making a repeatable pattern for a fabric print by hand! I couldn’t do that without my faithful computer. Kuddos to the people who used to do this all by hand.

  3. wow, wow, wow! That is such a neat book!! Great find!

  4. Wow, that’s amazingly neat! I love sketching out (and occasionally painting up) my ideas, especially when I’m still trying to hash out exactly what I want from a project. I wish I was as good as that illustrator, though… I second Kathleen! :)

  5. I am jealous :) What a great find!

  6. What a great find! I’m totally jealous. That kind of illustration just can’t be done on a computer. Don’t get me wrong, I think Illustrator is great and I even took a class in fashion illustration using Illustrator, but it just isn’t the same as what this book describes.

  7. Back in the mid-1990s, when I was about 10 years old, I spent a lot of time with a fashion design student who taught me the very basics of what she was learning (industry proportions, colouring and shading). She gave me a lot of her drafts and I copied her by meticulously tracing them. Let me tell you, the style and the techniques were nothing like this. :)

  8. Oooooh, what a find! Very jealous :o)

  9. What a cool book! I’m always amazed at how you can almost feel the fabric, just by looking at the pattern illustrations: this one is velvet, that one is seersucker, etc.

  10. I have that book! :) I bought it when I was 19 (one of my first Ebay purchases ;) and still love looking through it and studying things. Such a neat look back at another aspect of dressmaking and fashion.