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Chapter: 11th 12th std standard Textiles And Dress Designing Cloth stitch Higher secondary school College practical steps methods Notes

Principles of Design in Clothing

Following are the principles of designing. 1.Balance 2.Emphasis 3.Harmony 4.Proportion 5.Rhythm

Principles of Design in Clothing


The principles of design can help when selecting apparel designs at the point of purchase or during customization of construction. The principles can also be helpful not only when selecting separate garments but also when coordinating several garments and accessories into a complete outfit. The principles of design are useful in creating different forms of expression in our artistic manner, which are pleasing and attractive to the eye. Following are the principles of designing.











1. Balance: In clothing, balance refers to a visual attribution of weight, from a central area. Balance refers to the restful effect achieved through grouping design details to maintain a feeling of equal weight or attraction from side to side, front to back or top to bottom. Pleasing balance brings about a satisfying relationship among all design parts to produce visual harmony.


When the design elements of line, form, shape, space, color and texture are in balance, a pleasing harmony is established in clothing designs, three kinds of balance are observed,


          Formal balance, also called symmetrical balance or bilateral symmetry.


          Informal balance, also called asymmetrical or occult balance.


          Radial balance


 Formal balance: Occurs when object appears to equalize each other by repetition and arranged at equi-distance from the centre. The upper and lower portions of the design are so arranged, as to give an effect of balance. Thus there should not be the effect of too much of weight at the bottom or a heavy appearance. Eg. Dark coloured skirt over lighter shade of pant make a short person appear shorter.


Many examples of formal balance may be found in clothing. Formal balanced designs often give an impression of stability due to the equal or balanced placement of the parts that compose the design. In apparel formal balance may emphasize body irregularities.


b) Informal balance: Occurs when objects appear to equalize each other but not through repetition and the arrangement is in an haphazard manner. Here design of different sizes and shapes and of different attractions are arranged. The larger and more attractive designs are kept as far away from the centre. If used correctly, informal designs can be effective in being attractive.


Sometimes formal and informal balance are combined in a single garment. This could happen in a dress when the bodice is informal balance and the skirt design is in informal balance. Such an arrangement often lacks harmony and relationship among the various parts. A design with this mix can appear pleasing when there is an interesting transition between the parts that unifies the two opposite effects. Formal balance is the least expensive to produce apparel in mass production. Informally balanced garment is more difficult to produce. For each section of the garment cuts will have to be probably handled differently.


c) Radial balance: Occurs when major parts of the design radiate from the central part. Radial balance uses a central point as the focal point. Pleats, seams, gathers, darts or motifs radiate from the focal point creating a sun burst effect.


2. Emphasis: Refers to the dominance of one part with subordination of others. A good design should have a design feature which is the centre of interest, while other features support it. Designers often create emphasis partially through the careful arrangement of line, texture and colour. It could also be called as focal point. Every design needs same note of interest that catches the eye on a specific area of the garment, contrasting colour can be used to emphasize an area.


A black dress with white collar and cuffs will direct the eye to the face and hands. Some methods of lay emphasis can be,


       Grouping of design units


        Using contrast of hues

       By leading lines


        A combination of any of the above


        Repeating details such as tucks, gathers, buttons etc.


       Unusual shapes and textures


        Applied design on a contrast background.


While enhancing the design by concentrating in a focal point the designer must bear in mind the figure and personality of the wearer.


The methods used to obtain emphasis are repetition or concentration. Decoration on a contrast background.


3.Harmony: Refers to unity of design with slight contrast or variety to prevent monotony. If the principle of proportion, balance, rhythm and emphasis are applied creatively, the resultant design is said to have the harmony. First the various parts of the garment (sleeve, skirt, collar etc) should be related to the structure of the style that is every detail should harmonise with each other.


4. Proportion or scale: good proportion refers to pleasing relationship between the sizes of various design details in a dress and between the garment itself and the design details.


Proportion includes the relationship of height, width, depth and the surrounding space of each design. The differences in proportion make designs look different from one another. For example, study the proportions of the five rectangles in Fig. (1-5). In the figure which looks the longest? The broadest? Which division of spaces would gives the most slender illusion for a garment? The tallest? The shortest?

No.1  : represents the shape of a garment having no waist line, such as a shift. 

No. 2 : represents an empire line, with the high waist line under the bust.

No.3  : represents a natural waist line, a classic shirtdress, waist length jacket, and skirt.

No.4  : represents a waistline dropped to hip level: jacket and part of equal length.

No.5  : represents a long jacket with a short skirt. � length coat over skirt, long tunic.

 Greek law of space division: A space divided in the proportion of 2:3 is very pleasing to the eye. Eg. In a garment proportion of the bodice length to the skirt length must be 2:3 and the yoke length also bears the same proportion to the bodice length. Pockets on the bodice and the skirt must also have the same proportion.


 Scale: refers to the relationship between the garment and its design details as well as between the wearer and the garment. Eg. Large appliqu� motifs attached on a small dress violate the principle of scale.

5.Rhythm: Refers to the smooth movement of the eye from one part of a design to another. Therefore a rhythmic pattern needs to be established to give a costume unity. Rhythm can be obtained through regular repetition of shapes and decorative details like tucks, pleats, scallops, buttons etc. Gradation in size also contribute to rhythm. This type is sometimes refered to as dimensioning rhythm.


Rhythm can be achieved through the combination of lines, shape, colour and texture by the following aspects in designing.


               By regular repeats of trims, texture and fabric design and prints.


               Progression or radiation in sizes of trims, colours, textures and fabric designs.


               Radiation or movement from the central point occurring within structural details such as gathers, folds, tucks, darts etc.


               Continuous flowing lines such as those in bands of colours, textures and fabric designs.


Fabric design with widely placed motifs may lack rhythm. These designs must be evaluated critically before they are cut and constructed into a garment often the garment design will interrupt this type of fabric design and produce strange effects.


Each consumer and fashion professional becomes a designer creating an artistic composition when he or she creates a total look through the selection of garments, accessories, hairstyle, and facial adornment.

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