Basic Body Movements and Main Types of Fabric Folds

Basic Body Movements and Main Types of Fabric Folds

Shubham Anil Jain
Sr. Consultant
Cent Edge Solutions LLP, Bangalore, India


A component of fashion design called fashion illustration involves physically expressing the concept of the garment. Sketching is used to specify features like color, cloth, embroidery, patterns, and folds. Now let’s examine what folds indicate to an illustrator. Clothes are made up entirely of folds. They appear naturally in various ways depending on the cloth. Any garment has an incredible effect when it is folded, enhancing its attractiveness and beauty. Because of this, it’s crucial that every fashion illustrator comprehends types of fabric folds and knows just how to depict them.

Basic Body Movements:

1. Flexion and Extension:
This are sagittal plane movements that include anterior or posterior movements of the body or limbs, respectively. While extension involves a posterior-directed motion, such as straightening out of a flexed position or bending backward, flexion (also known as anterior flexion) refers to an anterior (forward) bending of the neck or torso for the vertebral column.

2. Hyperextension:
Injury is caused by hyperextension, which is the abnormal or excessive extension of a joint beyond its normal range of motion. Similar to this, hyperflexion is excessive joint flexion. The knee and elbow are examples of hinge joints where hyperextension injuries are frequent. A patient may suffer both hyperextension and hyperflexion of the cervical region in “whiplash” cases where the head is abruptly thrust backward and subsequently forward.

3. Abduction and Adduction:
Motions of the limbs, fingers, toes, or thumb that entail medial-lateral motions take place in the coronal plane are known as abduction and adduction motions. Adduction is the opposing action that draws the limb towards the body or across the midline, whereas abduction pushes the limb laterally away from the body’s midline. For instance, adduction lowers the arm to the side of the body while abduction raises the arm at the shoulder joint and moves it laterally away from the body.

4. Rotation:
The spinal column, a pivot joint, or a ball-and-socket joint can all rotate. The twisting motion caused by the accumulation of the little rotational movements accessible between adjacent vertebrae is known as rotation of the neck or body. One bone rotates in respect to another bone at a pivot joint. Since this is a uniaxial joint, the only motion permitted at a pivot joint is rotation.

5. Protraction and Retraction:
Anterior-posterior movements of the scapula or mandible are protraction and retraction. When the shoulder is brought forward, like when pressing against something or tossing a ball, the scapula protracts. The scapula is dragged posteriorly and medially, towards the spinal column, in a retraction motion, which is the opposite motion.

6. Opposition and Reposition:
The motion of the thumb that makes it come into contact with the tip of a finger is known as opposition. The trapezium carpal bone and the first metacarpal bone form a saddle joint at the first carpometacarpal joint, which is where this movement is produced. The thumb’s flexion and abduction at this joint work together to create thumb opposition. Repositioning is the process of bringing the thumb back to its natural place next to the index finger.

Types of Fabric Folds:
Fabric folds refer to the way fabric drapes, falls, or forms creases and wrinkles when it is manipulated or draped over a surface or the human body. There are various types of fabric folds. Here are some common types of fabric folds:

1. Pipe (cylinder) folds:
The folds that naturally appear on garments and drapes are called “pipe folds.” These folds are created when the cloth is crushed or bunched together at one end, leaving the other end free to hang. As a result, a series of semi-tubular folds start to emerge as the material releases at the other end. There is frequently a wavy pattern on the free bottom portion. The final appearance has pleats that resemble those of a skater skirt.

Pipe (cylinder) folds

Folding cable or pipe that descends from a point of support. It has a downward-pointing tubular form. Look for these pipe-like shapes in several drapery photos to understand what they actually look like. Pipe folds can be represented as cylinders since they are fundamentally cylindrical in character. Consider this in the context of an intricate drapery design.

2. Zig-Zag folds:
A zigzag-like pattern is frequently produced when a tubular fold is bent because the inner side collapses in on itself as the extra fabric is exposed from compression. This is the ones that frequently happen when trousers’ fabric bunches up at the back of the knees or at the bottom of the legs as a result of compression. They appear spiral or cylindric. They essentially consist of folds with portions that fold inward on it that tend to alternately form a zigzag pattern with one another. When drawing this kind of fold, it’s essential to attempt to start with a zig-zag guideline that feels natural and isn’t overly rigid. You will look more natural as a result of doing this.

Zig-Zag folds

3. Spiral (twisting) folds:
Spiral folds radiate from a single point of support, and while they initially follow a similar course, as they go farther away from the supporting point, they fan out and become less parallel. Spiral folds are frequently employed on rolled or bunched-up sleeves. Only some materials that can be wrapped repeatedly, bunched up into tubular shapes like an arm or a leg, may produce such folds. They differ marginally from Zig-Zag folds.

Spiral (twisting) folds

4. Half lock (elbow) folds:
Although a half-lock fold sounds complicated, it really isn’t. When a piece of fabric reverses direction, it folds. I prefer to refer to it as the elbow fold because it’s most noticeable at bending knees and elbows. Where there is a sharp change in the fabric’s direction, half-lock folds happen. If you’ve ever seen a golfer getting ready to swing his club, you may have noticed these kinds of folds, which naturally develop in the upper region of the pants where the body is bending forward. This type of fold usually shows beautifully on slacks. Another illustration of this type of fold is the area that will be on the sides of the knee while a person is sitting or crouching.

Half lock (elbow) folds

5. Diaper (U Shape) folds:
The U-fold is the fold used for diapers. The fold is held up by two points of stress, one on each side, and it sags in the middle, forming a U shape. It is the downward fold of a hood that can be seen on the back. These occur when a fabric sags between two points of support. We may have tried on or seen fall neck dresses before we could comprehend what nappy folds were. The quantity of material that is slack is determined by the amount of fabric and the separation of the support points. These folds are frequently visible on handkerchiefs, scarves, and other fabrics.

Half lock (elbow) folds

6. Drop folds:
When a material just drops off of a form to fall freely, drop folds frequently happen. The form that the material is hanging off of and its gravity determine the drop fold’s overall appearance. It is very organic and uncontrolled. Think of a towel hanging from a hanger as an example.

Drop folds

A drop fold occurs when a piece of drapery is suspended from a point of support and falls freely to the ground, yielding to gravity. The drop fold is not obstructed by any other folds or forms.

7. Inert folds:
Folds that are inert are essentially random folds. The forms that would be produced if you dropped a piece of fabric on the ground called inert folds. These will always resemble the surface they’re on to some extent, so if you drop the cloth on the flat floor, it will appear differently than if you drop it on the dog, the tea kettle, or the arm of the couch.

Inert folds

It’s crucial to get folds properly since they visually support an activity or motion in a shape by presenting various depth and volume that lies underlying a specific material. When learning how to draw garment folds, it’s a good idea to examine the human form and break down various body components into basic shapes. You can start applying clothes hemlines and edges that correctly match the contours of the body by figuring out how they appear in three dimensional space.


  1. Improving Comfort in Clothing Edited by Guowen Song

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