One-Sided Point of View

While we were busy wrapping everyone in tulle and celebrating our anniversary, the Haute Couture designers in Paris strutted their stuff and the New Yorkers have begun what will be a month long marathon of global fashion weeks. While the girls are off to make their reports, I wanted to do another tutorial based on a recent trend taking the fashion world by storm: one-shouldered necklines!

L-R: Vionnet, Armani Prive, Dries Van Noten, Gillian Anderson in unnamed designer, Mary J. Blige in Alberta Ferretti, Greta Gerwig in Oscar de la Renta. Photos:
This seems simple enough, but often simple is very hard to do well and I thought this would be a good exercise to help you understand how and where you can alter a pattern to bring your own ideas to life. Most fashion schools teach pattern making two ways: using measurements, pencil and ruler on the table and "draping" or "3-D Design" whereby you create the pattern in cotton muslin directly on the dress form. As a student I loved pattern drafting (something I developed while working with commercial patterns as a teenager), but today most students prefer watching the design come alive on a mannequin in front of their eyes.

Flat Pattern Drafting Method
The pattern for this garment begins with the basic bodice sloper. Whenever you are creating an asymmetrical design, you need to work with the full front bodice (or foundation). This is as simple as tracing a mirror image of the sloper on the opposite side of the center front (CF) line.
What I have learned about making patterns for dolls is how easy it is to miscalculate where things fall on the body. If the neckline is too high it becomes a more prudish version of your original design. Too low often results in the design falling off the doll's tiny frame.
1. Until your eye becomes accustomed to your doll's proportions, I highly recommend you place the paper pattern against the body and draw or fold the neckline. Note: I've folded and taped the darts to get a more accurate idea of how the neckline with impact bodice.
2. From the shoulder to the opposite side beneath the armhole of the front bodice, draw a diagonal line. The upper part with be cut away and discarded.
3. Take the back bodice and place the shoulder line against the shoulder line of the front bodice. Mark where the back neckline will start based on what is happening in the front. You want a smooth transition from front to back which is why we do this.
4. I've flipped the back right side up. Now design the line of the back the way you want it.
5. You're not finished yet. You must now match the right back to the left side front and mark where the necklines should meet. Draw your diagonal line. Be sure you label "left back" and right back" on the pattern pieces). Add seam allowance, lay your pattern against the fabric and cut one of each pattern piece.

Draping method
This is the exact same garment as above which will yield the exact same end result. It's just a different approach to pattern making.
We are making what's called a "toile" or a "muslin" out of unbleached cotton. No muslin, no problem, you can use paper though it is a bit trickier to work with. (But be very careful not to tear your pattern as you work.) I start with adding seam allowance to the front and back slopers then making my "shell." Transfer the paper pattern to the muslin, cut out then stitch together pieces, using a basting stitch or a long machine stitch. Mark the center back seam and pin down the center back.

1. After you have created your shell, place it on the doll and sketch out the the lines of your neckline.
2. Note how wide or narrow your shoulder will be.
3. You will need to decide what happens when the front meets the back under the arm on the side where the shoulder will be cut away.
4. Unless the opening is on the (short) side of the garment, you will need to figure how the left and right side come together at the center back to ensure a smooth line.
5. Once you are happy with the look and the fit, you will need to carefully take your toile apart. Trace all markings to a new sheet of tracing paper to create your pattern.
6. Add seam allowance.
The one-shouldered neckline is almost always diagonal. That means it is very easy to stretch out of shape while you are stitching the garment together. As a way to control what happens to that diagonal line and provide a bit of structure, you can add support with a tiny strip of "iron on interfacing." For those of you not familiar with this product, it looks like a cotton fabric on one side and has a raised pebbly surface on the backside. The pebbly surface is placed against the wrong side of the garment and you iron on the cotton side. Here, I cut a very tiny strip (roughly 1/8" (3mm) and placed it along the stitch line. When you are ironing this on, be careful not to scrub, but rather to press (up and down movements). Once in place, you can attach your lining. If you don't plan to line the garment, fold over and hand stitch in place as I've done here.
Here's my one shouldered silhouette side front and back. Use the same method for any dress or for when using the sloper for stretch garments. (If you have a good quality stretch fabric, you may not need the interfacing.) You can leave the arm bare, set in a sleeve or add embellishments, depending on your design!

On Dorian, I took a scrap and made a little puff to which I attached a train (using a narrow rectangle of fabric). The oversized print of this silk really makes a statement!
Which method should you use and when? Aside from an answer like, "whatever you feel comfortable with," I personally see the flat pattern method for simple or "classic" looks, whereas the "draping" method is good for free style "original creations like the one featured below.

I loved the neckline of the Oscar de la Renta dress worn by actress Greta Gerwig at this year's Golden Globes. It really isn't that hard to recreate in that it's based on our simple one-shouldered neckline.
1. Start by making a toile (sloper with seam allowance cut out of muslin). Place on doll body.
2. With a pencil, design the neckline. Here, I'm drawing it directly on the muslin. The strokes should be big. If the details are too fine, they will be lost when you add the lining!
3. Again, the body is a 3-dimensional object, so you will need to figure out what is happening on the side.
4. And you will need to decide what will happen in the back.
5. Once you are happy with the design, cut away the excess to get a better look at what's happening.
6. In my case, I was happy with the neckline, but once I cut the top away, the right side didn't hug the bust the way I wanted. So I pinched in a tiny dart to make it fit. Once you are happy with the fit and the design, it's time to take the toile apart and make our paper pattern.
Please note: Exceptionally, I have designed this so that the front is connected to the back at the shoulder line. What that means is, the front and the right back bodices will form a single pattern. I did this because the part going over the shoulder is narrow and I wanted to avoid bulk at that point. Just be aware that when you do this, 1) the pattern piece will take up more fabric, 2) the back will fall on the other words...the back will have a bit of stretch.

Make your paper pattern. Flatten out the toile and trace all markings onto tracing paper. Make any adjustments to maintain symmetry of the darts. Be sure to label the pattern pieces so that you know what they are and how they attach to each other. This is especially important with asymmetrical patterns. Add seam allowance.

This garment is best lined! Use a very lightweight material.
1. Sew the right back to the left back (blue dotted lines). Sew the lining to the garment along the neckline (red dotted line).
2. Turn the garment to the right side out. Very carefully press along the neckline.
3. While this is still flat, I turned under the armhole of the garment onto itself and pinned in place. Then I turned under the lining onto itself. Hand stitched the two together. Now complete the rest of the garment by stitching the sides together.

I only made this design as a top which means it can be combined with any evening skirt or trousers for a dramatic look!

Before I close the subject, you know I always like to present a "simple solution" for those who might feel this tutorial is a bit intimidating. There is another look I've seen on the runway. It falls along the lines of the Alberta Ferretti gown worn by Mary J. Blige. It consists of a strapless dress and a single sleeve. You can either make the dress using the sheath pattern, or craft a tube out of stretchy fabric and add the embellishment of your choosing.

Off the Beaten Track
1. Let's make our base. (Can be applied to any style of strapless dress.) I started by using the pattern for the one-piece camisole.
2. Make a tube by cutting a rectangle of fabric big enough for the doll to get her arm through it. Hem the top and bottom. Make one stitch down the edge and turn right side up. Slide this onto the arm.
3. Pin where the top of the sleeve meets up with the top of the camisole, then stitch it under the arm.
1. You can use ANYTHING you want. Here, I took a rectangle of silk and hemmed all four edges.
2.  Softly hand pleat it with your fingers, pin along the neckline and tack in place. It will go under one arm and over the opposite arm.
3. Tack it on top of the sleeve as well as under the arm.
4. Continue to tack it to the neckline in the back
5. Tack it to either side of the center back seam. The top or dress can be closed with snaps.

E-Z 1-Shoulder looks
1. Adding a strap to this top acts as a support for any embellishment you might want.
2. A cluster of silk flowers gives a feminine aura to my otherwise austere camisole.
3. A tiny bit of faux fur really glams things up. Here, I've added a sleeve to the camisole underneath.
And just look how a single ribbon can spruce things up!

With the exception of the runway photos (courtesy of, all photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2018. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank You.

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
Like us on Facebook: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest: @FashDollStylist
And of course, we are on Instagram: @fashiondollstylist

You Might Also Like