Changing a Silhouette with Unexpected Armholes

Boho dress sleeve closeup

I came across this little drawing in my sketchbook, while I was looking for something else. It’s a drawing of a top I saw on Pinterest ages ago:

Sketch of top, from Pinterest, showing a square with sleeves, waistband and neckline all on different sides.
UPDATE: I made this top the following week.

The neckline is on one side and the sleeves are in asymmetrical positions. I imagine it’s in knit fabric with ribbing arms and waist. There’s no picture of it being worn but I’d kind of like to try it out. Would it look edgy and sophisticated? Or like I got dressed wrong that morning?

Putting necklines and armholes in unexpected places is one way of changing the silhouette. It can create drape or an unusual garment. I’ve played with this idea before with zero waste patterns.

The boho dress in the Zero Waste Sewing book has the armholes in what’s an extension of the shoulder seams. It creates voluminous sleeves which feel wonderful and swishy to wear.

Boho dress from the Zero Waste Sewing book.
Boho dress from the Zero Waste Sewing book - prototype worn by Liz Haywood.
Me wearing the original prototype. I describe how the pattern is made in this blog post.
Drawing of the boho dress from the Zero Waste Sewing book, showing the armholes in extended shoulder seams.

The side drape top, also in the Zero Waste Sewing book, uses this idea too. One armhole is in the side and the other is along the top.

Side drape top in fluid jersey from the Zero Waste Sewing book.

You can see the pattern is really simple – just two rectangles – but the armhole position makes it look so much more when it’s worn.

Drawing of the side drape top from the Zero Waste Sewing book, showing the armholes at the sides.

Julian Robert’s subtraction cutting pushes this idea even further. It has a lot in common with zero waste pattern cutting in that the pattern is used as the design tool, rather than a traditional sketch. It involves “doing” and seeing what emerges – the actual design is revealed at the end.

Google images search of Julian Roberts subtraction patterncutting.

Have you ever tried a garment with this idea? Has anyone tried the top from Pinterest? Please leave a comment 🙂



  1. Michelle Cahill on April 4, 2023 at 12:16 am

    I’ve had that square top pinned for years. Maybe one of these day I’ll get around to it. I did knit a very similar sweater a few years ago. Mine does not have have added sleeves, just an added waistband. Has a really cool drape to it. Maybe I’ll get around to sewing a bamboo jersey version with sleeves one of these days.

    • lizhaywood on April 4, 2023 at 9:33 am

      I wonder if it’s the kind of top that everyone pins but no-one actually gets around to making?!!
      I’ve just found some black and red striped knit in my fabric collection, and some black ribbing, so I’m thinking of trying it out over Easter.

  2. Shan Martin on May 3, 2023 at 7:54 am

    This is actually a knit pattern called the Paris top. I have seen many examples both machine knit and hand knit of this pattern on Ravelry, and have made one myself. Shape looks very odd initially but is quite comfortable to wear

    • lizhaywood on May 3, 2023 at 9:46 am

      Ah thank you Shan – good to know the name of it. I just had a poke around Ravelry and saw lots of beautiful ones.

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