I’m currently in my spring semester of college, and I have ADHD so my attention span is…lacking. I’ve found that I retain the information a lot better if I reformat my class notes into far more legible and organized posts. It’s also helping to give me the motive to study more so that I can flesh this information out. So, hopefully, you will find some of this information useful!
Lines are one of the most common design elements but also the most versatile. Lines can be created through a variety of methods including seams, pleats, buttons, stripes, decorative features added to the garment, folds, etc. Another way to think of a line, is to consider it a dot in motion. Shapes or dots can be placed linearly to create an implied line.
There are an infinite number of line styles, but they can be placed into the categories of straight and curved lines. Variations in style can include the weight of the line, direction, character, and it’s arrangement. The style of the line changes the mood of the design.
Vertical lines are more rigid. They impart feelings of strength, dignity, and tradition. Think of the vertical lines in a tall building or Greek columns. A lot of vertical lines can add a sense of formality to a garment. They tend to add height to the human figure if the height of the vertical lines is longer than the width.
Horizontal lines add a feeling of calmness, like a horizon or a soft bed. They have a tendency to add width to a design, so should be placed carefully unless width is what you are aiming for. Adding width to features can be used to accentuate them, such as horizontal lines near the shoulders.
Diagonal lines add drama, feel active, and suggest movement. A good example of this is high-low designs, or a one shoulder look. It’s often seen in sportwear as well. Your eye wants to travel in the direction of the diagonal line, so diagonal lines can be very flatter since they follow the natural curvature of the body.
Structural lines are a part of the construction and determine it’s shape, but are not created by the colors or any decorations placed on the surface.
- Seams and the way the fabric is cut (the grain.) A princess seam is a good example of this.
- Fabric texture created by the weaving or knit technique such as plaids or rib knits.
- Elements of construction like collars or cuffs, hemlines, gatherings, darts, and tucks.
- How these construction lines relate to the figure wearing the garment.
Decorative lines enhance the design but don’t add any function the garment. These lines can be used to draw your eyes to certain areas of the garment, to elongate or shorten, or simply to play with the eye.
- Trim details like bows, and flowers.
- Printed patterns on the fabric.
- Surface textures that are added to the garment and are not part of the underlying construction.
Functional lines are elements of the garment that serve an express purpose. They should work the way that you expect them too. Decorative pockets, or pockets that are sewn shut are not functional (and trash anyway.) The lines created by the functional aspects of the garment should be considered and placed carefully when designing the overall garment.
- Spaghetti straps
Ellinwood, Janice Greenberg. Fashion by Design. Fairchild Books, 2010.
Header image by Mimi Garcia, all other images are credited under the picture.