Fashion Flats


Just as architects draw two-dimensional blueprints for the three-dimensional buildings they plan to construct, fashion designers begin their process on garment templates called flats. Of course, they may also sketch ideas on figures as well (croquis), but since pattern makers have to clearly understand the design in order to make a first pattern, a flat generally is a more exacting way to convey visual information. Flats are also what eventually make up line sheets, which inform in-house sales and production people, as well as store buyers, about a design firm’s latest line.

Women’s Swimwear Flat Templates

Flat templates are a tool to help designers create more precise and accurate flats of their design concepts. Front, side, and back flats help us to think around the form, so our designs ultimately make sense.


Continuing our architectural analogy, for someone to draw effective blueprints, the various building elements must be clearly understood. The same is true for clothing design. Many elements go into garment construction, and these must be reflected in your flats. Some lucky students have sewn all their lives, and know construction intimately. But many fledgling designers have hardly threaded a needle, and they will need to play catch-up. Most design schools will have classes in construction, but if you have access to fashion reports, study them regularly and your design awareness will increase exponentially

Construction Details

Because the primary function of flats is to convey accurate information about the construction details of garments, we will devote the next few pages to reviewing the various options for clothing details.


For those who sew, the fact that pattern pieces are attached together with seams is a very obvious fact. But for the rest of us, how seams function may be a bit of a mystery. Of course, we know our jeans have an inseam, and a side seam, but that is about it.

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