If you’ve been sewing for a long time, it is exciting to see how technology has changed the landscape over the years. From customizable patterns to print-at-home downloads from up-and-coming independent designers, sewing today offers you more control and options for customization at every turn. Sew News chatted with MyBodyModel founder Erica Schmitz (at right) about her endeavor to make customized croquis, built from input measurements, available to sewists everywhere through an exciting new crowd-funded project.
What inspired you to start MyBodyModel?
When I first started sewing clothes for myself, I wanted to make everything! I had so many ideas that I would lie awake at night obsessing about all the things I wanted to make. But then when it came time to sew, I was stuck. Because I only had a couple of hours to sew, and about 1,000 competing ideas in my head of what I wanted to work on. I tried making lists, but those were overwhelming and also uninspiring. I’m a visual person and I needed to see my ideas on paper.
I looked into the different sketching templates that are out there, and I couldn’t find any that look like me. I found that most fashion templates use a figure outline called a “croquis” that’s 9 or 10 head-lengths tall. Human beings are usually about 7 or 8 head-lengths tall! The standard for fashion sketching is designed to look stretched out and unnaturally proportioned. Which was not at all helpful to me in visualizing what my sewing ideas would look like on my body.
I noticed that some sewing bloggers make their own sketch models by tracing over photos of themselves, so I tried that. I tried tracing paper, apps on my tablet, and combinations of the two. It was labor intensive and time consuming! I thought that there should be an easier way. I wanted an app where you could just enter your measurements, and instantly get a beautiful croquis that looks like you. I couldn’t believe that it didn’t exist already. After a couple of years, the idea kept nagging at me! So I decided to make it happen.
How do you personally use croquis? How has that been useful in your sewing?
Every sewing project has almost infinite decisions to make. Not just what fabric to use and what sewing pattern. You also choose things like neckline shape, sleeve length, hem length, gathers or pleats, amount of ease, and different combinations of each! It can be dizzy-making. By sketching my sewing plans on croquis of my body, I can “try on” different options and see how they will look. That way it’s so much easier to make decisions about what to make.
I also use my croquis to visualize how new-to-me styles and silhouettes would look on my body. I haven’t tried making culottes yet, but after making a few sketches I’m excited to take the leap!
Why is it so important to have a croquis with accurate proportions?
I’ve heard from so many women that they sew to have clothes that fit well and look good on their bodies. They know their body measurements. And they know all the ways in which their bodies don’t match the “standard” sizing. Because no body matches the standard! Every body is different.
If you’re making clothes that are made to your own measurements, it makes sense to sketch your ideas on a figure that has your own proportions. That way you can visualize as accurately as possible what the finished sewn garment will look like on your body. And you can make any changes you need—Before you even cut into your fabric and put in all those hours behind your sewing machine and ironing board!
Before I put all that work into sewing something, I want to have some sense of what it will look like when I’m done. If I sketch it on a croquis that doesn’t look like me, that doesn’t show me what the garment will look like on my body.
Sketching on a model of my own body has also helped me to step back and really see my body. Without all the emotional baggage that I may have stacked up over the years! We’re bombarded our whole lives with images and messages that our bodies aren’t good enough.
Using accurate croquis is a way to claim and appreciate our own bodies. And throw off all those body shaming messages that have gotten under our skin. And, hopefully, change the messages that our daughters and granddaughters hear about their bodies growing up. My daughter is 9 years old. I want MyBodyModel’s body-positive images to be part of her world.
We’re still fine tuning the list of measurements for the MyBodyModel croquis builder. There will be a few required measurements, and a lot of optional measurements! The more measurements that you enter, the more accurate your croquis will be. We’re working with a testing team of sewers, knitters, and designers to help us figure out what measurements we need for the most accurate results.