“The simple element comes first.”

The Evolution of Design

Every good design begins with a vision. The simple element comes first. In this case, the simple sleeveless top was the first thing I put together in Marvelous Designer, a 3d modeling program geared toward fashion design.

This piece was my foundation garment and from it would come six different looks that could be created just by adding small details. 

It took a while to get the top looking and sitting just the way I wanted it, but once it was done I was ready to begin making changes.

The Next Steps

  • Adding a gathered skirt
  • Adding a peplum
  • Adding cap sleeves
  • Adding a front ruffle
  • Adding a front inset panel

From a Top to a Dress

I am a huge fan of dresses. When designed correctly, they are comfortable to wear and cover a multitude of bodily imperfections to create a graceful, flowing line on a woman’s silhouette. Gathered skirts on a dress are my favorite, so I added six gathered panels and attached them to the bottom hem of the top.


A peplum is a small section of fabric that goes over the main skirt. Over a straight skirt, it can be used to cover up a larger belly and make the waist seem smaller. Over a long, gathered skirt, it gives added fullness to the gathers and serves to break up the pieces so that they look like two pieces instead of one.

I wasn’t unhappy with the results, but I wasn’t satisfied either. I decided to try a few new variations on this. 

Adding Cap Sleeves and a Front Ruffle

Changing the top from a sleeveless top to one with cap sleeves was an experiment for me. I’d never designed my own sleeves. I wanted something that would allow the wearer to have plenty of range of motion but also cover bare shoulders if they weren’t comfortable with them.

The front ruffle was a decoration designed to mirror the peplum and gave greater cohesion to the design elements.

I was starting to like the look of the garment more, and to see more possibilities for it, too.

Adding a Front Inset & Matching Back

The garment was now heavier and the shoulder straps were being pulled down by the weight. There was an increasing amount of cleavage being revealed, so I decided to add a front inset panel to the garment to create a more modest look.

I then mirrored the inset panel and ruffle on the back.

This was a short project and a fun experiment in what could be done with a custom fabric design I’d created years ago on Spoonflower.com.

The Fabric Design

This was one of my first experiences in designing a repeating fabric design, created years ago, but I liked how it turned out.

It’s a great fabric design for a vertically challenged woman with extra space in the horizontal zone as the stripes add the appearance of height and create a slimmer profile in the eye of the viewer.

I created many coordinating fabric designs to go with it, some of which I intend to revisit using Pantone’s most recent color mixes, but for now will leave as they are.

What Do You Think?

Overall, I like the final product. It gives me ideas for a mix-and-match ensemble. With the right fasteners tucked under the garment, you could easily sell the top as a single piece and the skirt, peplum, cap sleeves, insets, and ruffles, as optional accessories that women could add on or take away according to the look they wanted to create that day.

Could you see yourself wearing this? What changes would you ilke to see me make to the design? What are your thoughts on how this came together and what would you have done differently?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the garment and its design. Leave them in the comments below.


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