For every pair of trousers in the average person’s closet, there are two or three shirts, blouses, and/or tops. These are the garments that frame the face and create the strongest first impression, so a good top designer will probably always be employed. T-shirts are an especially interesting subcategory, in that their communication element is as important as their styling. People use the T-shirt to make political or philosophical statements, or to identify themselves as belonging to a particular group or cause.
An awareness of different cultures will enhance your design process. Any one of these rich images could be the inspiration for an original group of contemporary tops or shirts.
The bodice, or top part of a woman’s dress, is the basis for a multitude of styles for women’s tops. These bodices, created by Helen Armstrong for her comprehensive pattern making book, display a few of the darts and seaming options that create fit for woven tops. They also give you a good idea where armholes and necklines should hit on the body. (All the necklines shown here would have facings.) The stripes indicate length grain lines to show how the construction details affect the grain. If you were using striped fabric, the effect would be much the same.
A tunic is a simple, basic garment made of two rectangular pieces of fabric held together at the sides and top, with openings for the wearer’s head and arms. Tunics may be made with sleeves or without, and in a variety of lengths extending to the hips, knees, or ankles. The name tunic is derived from the Latin tunica, and this garment was worn in a variety of ways by both men and women of ancient Greece and Rome.