Drafting an Off-the-Shoulder Top

I work in the fashion industry and it seems like every woman at the office is wearing some version of the off-the-shoulder top. So I decided to draft my own version and add straps so I can still wear a bra with it.  I wasn’t sure exactly how the top would be constructed or how low the armhole shaping needed to be, so I made a half-scale mock up as a test run (without the straps for now). 

Many of you may have never seen a half-scale dressform. They are especially handy when trying to figure out how a garment will work, without having to cut/waste a bunch of fabric doing it. It looks much smaller that 1/2-scale, but all of its measurements are exactly half of a standard dressform ( approx half of an industry size 8). If I were really serious about my mini dressform I’d pad it to have a bigger bust ( ha ha), but this will do for my off-the-shoulder mock-up. (I have a full size dressform too, for real sized fitting.)

Here’s the finished mock-up, because I know you are dying to see what it looks like. . . 

It’s a bit stiff, because of the muslin, but I think when I cut the real fabric I’ll be using a much softer, drapey fabric that won’t stand away from the body so much.

Here are my drafting notes for the real (full-scale) version. . .you’ll see that I’m toying with a facing for the top edge instead of the fold-back facing. I’m only considering that if my fabric yardage isn’t enough to allow me the turn-back height. 

I’m thinking to decrease the elastic width to only 1″, instead of 2″, since most of my stash of elastics are 1″ wide. (Tip: Try to use items already in your stash, instead of buying something new, if you can.)

It took me about 10 min to cut out the muslin fabric for the mock-up, and only about 15 min to sew up the mock-up. Granted, it was a quickie job without any pressing or attention to detail, but it got the job done. 

After making the mock-up, I’ve decided to re-design the sleeve opening to be wider. Compare my initial sleeve shape from the sketch above to this new one below…a bigger opening. I think it will look cuter with a wider, looser opening. I may also shorten the sleeve length from my “pattern”. (Because there is so little shape or detail to the this style of top, I won’t actually make a full pattern, I’ll just use my measurements and the above diagram and cut directly into the fabric, to make the armhole shapes and each of the pieces.

I’ll cut out the real fabric soon, probably tomorrow night so, stay tuned. . . I’ll post the pics of the cutting and assembling as I go.


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