LESSON I THE DRESS FORMIn taking up this lesson the student must remember that a good form is the foundation for all succeeding lessons. No matter how pretty a dress or design is, if it is placed on a “ dumpy ” figure, it will have no style whatever.

In this lesson we first learn how to draw a layout for the form, which consists of two ovals, Fig. A, then how to place the form on this layout. In the next lesson we dress the same form in a very simple dress.

A form must have good proportion and style. A form leaning forward, or making a bow, as one might express it, is not stylish, neither is one with too large a bust and a tiny waist; nor one with high, square shoulders.

In this lesson we learn how to draw a form for a long dress, and as the styles change, the length of the skirt may be shortened. The waist goes into the skirt two and one-half times, the shoulders are thrown back, the sleeve is thrown out, and the skirt hangs straight down from the waist, flaring at the bottom. For a scant skirt do not flare as much as for a full one.

This form is used for dressmaker’s sketches, and for any dress to be placed on a lay figure.

When the dress is on the human figure, action comes in play and a complete understanding of these lessons will enable the student to draw the human figure in a variety of positions, and also to dress the figure in a variety of costumes. The best way to begin the study of this and all succeeding lessons, is to read all points relating to a certain figure (of course beginning with Fig. A), without looking at the lesson plate; then take a hard pencil, or a dull point of some kind, re-read the instructions, going over the lines of the figure with the point, according to the directions. Make careful note of the direction of the lines, and form a mental image of the figure by imagining that you are drawing it.

Next select a sheet of drawing paper, and with a soft pencil (medium), draw Fig. A as directed below. Follow the way explained; the student will find progress much easier and quicker by proceeding as directed than by trying some other way.


Make the drawing somewhat larger than the copy, placing the figure in the center of the paper. This may be done by getting the proportions and measuring to see just where to begin the drawing. Leave a little more margin at the bottom, than at the top.

Draw line 1, which is a very slight horizontal curve up, then lines 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7 as marked on the lesson plate. Line 2 is thrown out for the bust, and line 3 is thrown in at the waist, which throws the shoulders back. Lines 4 and 5 cross lines 2 and 3 at the wfaist, at first curving out for the hips, then curving in to the bottom of the skirt oval; Line 6  (center line of waist) follows line 2, not literally, but taking the general direction, getting straightcr as it reaches the waist line. Line 7 (center line of skirt) runs straight down from line 6.    –

Make the drawing a three-quarter view, which shows the front, side, and one sleeve of the dress. In this position one may show a design on the outside of a sleeve or on the side of a dress.

Practice this figure, doing it many times. When you feel confident that you understand all that has preceded and can draw Fig. A with snap, take up Fig. B which is the dress form placed on Fig. A.

Proceed with Fig. B in the same way, going over the lines and studying out the principles described below. The light lines are the lines of Fig. A and must be kept until the form is completed. Always keep the center line until the dress is finished.

As already pointed out, the waist goes into the skirt two and one-half (2|) times. Put on the collar above line 1, not too high and not too low, but just high enough to get good curves on the shoulders. Allow this distance at the bottom of the skirt oval. Be sure to make the collar three-quarter view, as is the waist and skirt. The center line of the collar is vertical, like the sides of the collar.

The collar goes into the shoulders three (3) times and is about the same height. The lines of the collar curve down, as does the waist line, but the bottom of the sleeve curves up. In the back view this order is reversed, at. is explained in Lesson II. The collar and waist lines curve up, and the bottom of the sleeve curves down.

Note how line 2 is cut into for the chest (line 8), which comes out to the bust. This piece, cut off of line 2, may be used for a far sleeve, if a sleeve is to be drawn. For a sketch of a dress one sleeve is sufficient, a sketch being used to show how the dress is made. When drawing for
reproduction, it is well to have two sleeves on a dress.

Get good curves on the shoulders, connecting the collar with the ends of line 1, and do not show too much of the inside of the collar and the bottom of the sleeves. Make the ellipses graceful, not pointed at the ends, and show the thickness of the goods by not connecting the lines.

There are three planes at the waist: the front, and two sides. You observe but little of the far side in a three-quarter view. This is true of the collar also. These three planes on the waist run into each other, forming a graceful curve. The planes on the collar do the same.

Put the skirt on with a flare, coming out at the hips (not in), and be sure to make a graceful curve on the bottom of the form. Remember that the waist, skirt, and collar are all three-quarter view. .

Throw the sleeve out (curving very slightly in, to take away the stiffness). The upper half of the sleeve is somew hat larger than the lower half, the bend coming opposite the waist line. This makes the length of the upper part of the sleeve equal to that of the lower part.

The armhole has a slight plane on the shoulder and from there it curves slightly towards the front, but do not hollow the armhole too much. Be sure to throw the sleeve out. The armhole is not as large as one would suppose by the drawing, as the sleeve touches the waist after it leaves the armhole. Note, the cross line where the armhole goes under the arm.

To test the accuracy of your form, drop the dotted lines from the center of the n^ar shoulder to the end of the waist line. This line must be vertical or parallel with the edges of your paper. Drop the dotted line from the end of the far shoulder to the other end of the waist line. This line also must be vertical.

If you have followed all directions carefully, you will have a good form on which any costume may be placcd.

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