Drafting a Wearable Origami Top

Updated: May 7, 2019


I've been trying to figure out a way of making an origami top which is actually wearable.  I've seen lovely ones with soft pleats which are practical, but not one with sharp folds. The problem is that the folds poke out when you're wearing the top, and if you tried to wash it you'd be looking at total collapse or 4 days of ironing to put it back together.

On a dog walk a couple of weeks ago I had an idea, how about making the top in scuba and adding the pleats in something softer.  The scuba should maintain the shape and the lighter fabric won't poke out.  The whole thing should be easier to reshape after washing.  That's the theory anyway.


I started with a basic block with the bust darts manipulated to one side.  That was extended to add the pleats.  (How you extend the pattern to add in the pleats is for another day.) The fabric which is going to be folded into these pleats is all additional to the original bodice, so I decided to add all of that extra fabric by sewing in organdie.


Taking the extra pleats in the top half of this bodice, here's the shape of the paper pattern; the organdie cut out to the shape of the pleats and lastly positioned with washaway tape ready for sewing.


The pleats are sewn and folded, so here's a photo of the back with the organdie sewn closed.


Next, I added the fabric to make the pleats in the bottom half of this bodice. This is the crazy shape I needed to add in


Compare this to the pleats on the pattern and you can see where this shape sits. Again I used washaway tape ot hold it in place for sewing.



The finished bodice front.  Pinned up in the window you can see how the organdie pleats sit behind the scuba. I'm really pleased with this, I added some asymmetric organdie triangles into the sleeves and it's been worn and washed and worn again. I did stitch closed the long dart at the top just at the point where it meets the dart coming down from the shoulder,to help the garment keep its shape. It's definitely wearable origami.

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Top tips from this experiment - the scuba worked well because it's stable so I could leave the edge raw.  Using washaway tape to hold everything in place for sewing is so much easier, I don't think you could get the precision required by pinning it.  The organdie worked better than my original attempt with linen inserts, and using two fabrics the same colour was definitely the way to go. 


For comparison, here are  a few photos of my first try in black scuba with white linen.  Fail!  It looked quite cool until I sewed the pleats up.



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