Ink cannot be black enough, nor type sufficiently large, to print, in a book in fashion drawing, the word ACCURACY. If I were to repeat the word a hundred times, it would not be enough, nor yet a thousand.

Do be accurate.

If you feel obliged to mitigate bumps and to improve contours, wait till you get home : but, when on the spot, draw EXACTLY what you see. It is to be hoped that in time you will learn to look for things, but at first you must be content to put in everything, just as it comes.

Pay particular attention to lengths. Ask the buyer if the skirt is exactly the right length for the girl, and if the jacket, in the case of a suit, is the right length in regard to the skirt. Be particular to count very carefully (twice, that is) how many buttons there are. It is not enough to give a glance and to suppose that

there must be a dozen. Often there are eleven or thirteen. I am not going to pretend that this makes the slightest difference to the selling quality of the dress, but the buyer supposes that it does and is, in fact, quite capable of saying " There's rather a ' feeling ' for thirteen buttons just at present."

While it will save your model's patience and your own eyesight if you examine details at close quarters when she has finished posing, this does not apply to one very important detail seams. I cannot believe that seams were, before the War, anything more than a common-or-garden way of joining a sleeve to a bodice, and such like. But they have gradually come to be a form of decoration in themselves. Designers tear pieces out and cut bits off, simply for the fun of sewing them on again with the object of making more and more seams. Pin-tucks are used to get a similar effect. Sometimes, of course, it is done in the traditional way to give extra fullness or to let in a piece which has been cut on the cross, but half the time a designer does it with the sole object of making a charming decoration with lines. It is a way of filling in the silhouette without adding colour. Sometimes these seams outline and accentuate part of the anatomy ; sometimes they are purely irrelevant. In either case they must be copied very carefully, the spacing being exactly reproduced.

But even in the plainest tailor-made it is important to put in certain seams and, in particular, the seam which joins the sleeve to the shoulder. This indicates the point where the shoulder ceases and the drop of the arm begins, and is further important as being the beginning of the line which becomes the outline of the body when it is continued downwards.

Apart from seams, however, it is best to inspect details close to, either on the model or in the hand. In cases where the dress is made of a very elaborately patterned material, it is best to make a note of this pattern when the dress has been taken off and you can lay it flat and give it all your attention. With dresses made of a printed stuff it is most important to note what happens when there is a piece let in, or a strapping of the same material. Notice whether the pattern goes the same way as it does in the rest of the dress, or if it is let in horizontally or diagonally. And when a dress is made up of both the dull and the shiny side of satin, note which parts of the dress are made of which. Do not bother to shade in what you may notice in these connections. A little arrow will show in which direction the pattern is running, while a little cross may be used to distinguish the shiny parts of the satin from the dull.

Never trust to your memory on this point or on any other. Write down everything you see.

Dresses often have belts with a buckle, and there is great variety in the design of these. These had better be sketched somewhat larger in scale than the rest of the drawing, outside the main figure, in the margin. Do not think that because it will appear small in the finished drawing it can be overlooked. Note

the exact size and shape of all bows and the psychological place where they occur. There are as many ways of tying a bow as there are of folding a table napkin, and some are just as perverse and noteworthy. Very often there is stitching on a dress, sometimes only a single line, but none the less important. Sometimes a line of stitching runs alongside a seam, and you must put them both in. This stitching is particularly useful in drawing, for example, a pleated skirt, to show where the pleats are held down flat, and where they are released. A prospective customer will thus be able to tell how low on the skirt the fullness begins, by noticing where the stitching ceases.

Some of the foregoing remarks apply to the sketching of furs in the shop. If, as you must learn to do, you know the names of the different furs, you can save a lot of unnecessary scribbling by just writing down the name of the fur that trims the dress or makes the coat. Some furs, as I explain in Chapter Seven, are always made up to resemble a flat, unbroken surface ; but others, like mink, mole, ermine, etc., are treated differently, the skins being worked to make a design. The charm and ingenuity of this design, no less than the quality of the actual fur used, go to make the attractiveness of a particular coat. Make careful note of this arrangement of the skins, and count how many of them are used in a sleeve or a collar : and, if they are worked horizontally, see how many there are from shoulder to hem. Always ask the buyer how he (the fur buyer is usually a man, often a charming and intelligent Jew) would like you to draw a single fox fur. It is not possible to draw it in use and to show at the same time the head, the back, and the tail, and so you had better ask him to arrange it as he thinks best (pi. 16).

Then there is the whole question of colour, or of its equivalent in half tone. It is rarely indeed that you will be called upon to do a fashion drawing in colour for a shop, but it occasionally occurs with catalogues. When the necessity does arise, your only hope is to get a little piece of the stuff the dress is made of. The bigger the better, of course, particularly with a patterned material : but when so many stores get their dresses from wholesale houses and make so few models on the premises, it is fruitless to send up to the workrooms and ask for a piece off the roll. You will have to snip off a little piece from somewhere inside the dress (if the buyer allows) ; the only place for this is the part inside the seam, but when a dress has been made by a wholesale firm (by the hundred, perhaps) there will not be enough free stuff for a fly to rest on, and you may have to go without a pattern. It is, however, sometimes possible to get a piece of ribbon or embroidery silk from another department, which nearly enough matches the colour of the dress.

Fashion Drawing Sections

Part-1 Part-2 Part-3 Part-4 Part-5 Part-6 Part-7