Pattern Puzzle: One Dress

What would a dress designed by 1,000 women look like? The One-Dress project directed by Malcolm Harris, renders this result:

[Click on the image for a larger photo]

I don’t know how many ways there are to wear it but based on colorways alone, you have four options (black, cobalt, magenta, and white). Fabrication is 100% silk knit jersey, retailing at $225. A portion of the profits benefit Womankind Worldwide and

Pathetically out of the loop when it comes to modern designers, I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Harris but judging from this youtube video, he has an impressive body of work behind him. I wish I knew where to find his past collections but I can’t seem to find one central source. An aside: not unlike many of the designers I know, he’s not just another pretty face. This PR release says he’s got a masters degree in English Literature.

Anyway, your challenge is to do one better because the pattern is so obvious -once you see the photo of it that is. I had no idea what the pattern looked like, I had to skulk about till I found it. Specifically, how would you cut this to appeal to a broader range of body types and ages? Can you do this with sleeves? How about a bit of contrast, or a bit of added fullness or length to the skirt? Bonus points to brainiacs who come up with allocation (yield) for this style.

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  1. Susan says:

    LOL This takes me back to school where one of the assignments in our drawing class was to develop a line that didn’t have hardware closure and draw the flats also. I did something very similar but it was a long skirt that wrapped.

  2. patsijean says:

    I don’t know that I could wear the dress but it is cool.

    I have made four loan contributions to Kiva. Here in this country we probably would say “business?” because they are the working poor, but the loans make the difference in the lives of the people (I admit that I am partial to loans to women) who are trying to grow a small business, and quite often the loans make quite a difference in the lives of their community also.

  3. dosfashionistas says:

    I like it! I love clothing where the woman’s body is free to move within the garment unconstricted. While the dress can be tied up tight, the jersey ties should not hamper movement, and you could tie them in ways to be even less constraining. Give it a dolman or tee sleeve, preferable wide like a kimono. Then round the hem down to just below the knee and I would wear it.

  4. Ragga Katla says:

    On a quick glance this pattern is a circle, with openings for neck, arms and legs. Not much unlike Issey Miyake’s circle pleat dress in 1990 which had openings for neck and legs and then one for a single arm just off center front. I looked for a long time for an image of that dress, I couldn’t find anything and its pretty late so I gave up. I have it in a book though. The big difference is that this fabric drapes greek style and the belt gives the extra wrapping options. Im not sure whether the front is smaller than the back and Im also not sure if its a perfect circle or if its more of an oval shape.

    There are a lot of people doing multi wear fashion these days. Ive seen a lot of those 4 way ones and up to 10 ways. I cant help to brag but this one label EMAMI in my home country (Iceland) is doing a design that has 30 ways to wear, it takes about 14 minutes to demonstrate the possibilities.
    Im dying to get one myself, it has to be the ultimate recession proof dress:
    Their website:

  5. Donna S says:

    This reminds me of a sundress pattern I have made in which the back and front are not sewn together but have extentions on the sides. Front is tied under the back panel, then the back panel is wrapped and tied in the front. It is sleevless and can be worn over a T-shirt. The first time I encounted it it was called a french beach wrap, then I saw it in Thailand, lined and made from silk dupioni. very easy and fun garment.

  6. Amy says:

    Have you seen the Kariza vintage wrap skirts that can be worn about 100 ways:

    I bought one of these and was so excited to try out several of the styles. Each one looked more horrible on me than the last. I don’t know what it was, because I’m thin and no matter what I put on (even X-sizes) usually manage to hang well on me. Except for wearing it as is, as a long wrap skirt, it did absolutely nothing for me. Very disappointing…

  7. Kathleen says:

    This also reminds me of Rock Ridgeway who I wrote about before.

    …he’s designed -and patented- a garment he’s calls The Cameleon. He’s got a utility patent (4,180,867) for his garment which can be folded, zipped and gathered to form as many as 4 different dresses, 2 skirts, a jumper, pants, shorts, shirts, a cape, a poncho, tunic, various headgear or can even be used as a handbag, utility bag, sleeping bag or if need be, a tent. I kid you not.

    One thing he did that I thought was very clever:

    Oh, and he had a great sizing method, I just loved it. Clothing was sized by color. He had this little fabric belt with roughly two inch sections of fabric in different colors that you placed around the hip. If the belt ended at yellow, you bought size yellow so there’s no need for anyone in the crowd to worry that anyone would discern their actual inch measurements. I thought it was a cool idea.

    He was a trip. There’s a another write up of him in Mother Earth News. His clothing site is no longer active but he has a blog. It would seem he’s gone into building. I guess he lives in Taos now. Quite the clever one he is.

  8. Sandra B says:

    Back in the eighties Australia had a tv personality/comedienne called Jeannie Little. She designed many of her own clothes, and often published the patterns in women’s magazines. I remember one that was two identical shapes that wrapped and tied several ways to become 4 vastly different garments – dress, shorts, blouse, skirt. And they were actually reasonably wearable, even though her stage persona was to appear somewhat unhinged. I remember being quite impressed, and keeping all of her clippings, even though my crowd thought she was very NOCD (not our class, darling) but at some point I must have disposed of them. They’d have been great pattern puzzles, because they weren’t obvious shapes.

  9. Tammy says:

    Ragga Katla! I love that you mentioned Issey Miyaki! He was/is one of my faves! That Pleated Circle dress popped into my mind like a shot!

    There was a sort of movement back then with modular clothing. Different types and lenghts of tubes, wraps and ties. Those were fun and easy. I think they can still be found in patterns here and there.

    I believe even Halston designed some bias cut evening dresses of a similar complexity. I had to draft a pattern of one from a photograph. That really had my mind “burnin’ and churnin”! Boy, was that fun! Don’t worry, my client got what she wanted. It “looked” like the picture. I did not steal the dress design. Finishing the Halston dress and later finding a book with a diagram of the actual pattern in it and seeing how close I really was….that was my own happy little secret! :)

    Kathleen, thanks for having this blog. I go thru it so much, I really admire you.

  10. Firstly, thank you so much for such an amazing post about our One-Dress… I happened to stumble across your brilliant blog during a bit of midnight web surfing… This is truly one of the most interesting blogs I’ve come across in a very long time. It was very refreshing to read a post about the One-Dress that didn’t involve Angelina Jolie’s recent purchase of the dress. Thank you.

    As the One-Dress was actually designed by women for women, I only consider myself the “incubator”/curator of the project and therefore loved reading all of the comments posted here on the site…

    Keep up the brilliant work and I hope you don’t mind if I visit your site every so often to eavesdrop on you and your inspiring readers.

    Love and Light,

    p.s. you can check out some of my older work on (

  11. Kathleen says:

    Hi Malcolm, how nice of you to stop by.

    After I posted this, I got an email from a visitor who was concerned you’d be upset by the post, specifically the photo which showed the pattern’s shape. I’m glad you interpreted this in the spirit in which it was intended. We enjoy vicariously tossing these these ideas around in our pattern puzzle series. Besides, as you know, execution is everything. It’s not a simple thing to generate a return on a 100% silk jersey $225 MSRP dress produced domestically particularly when you have provenance. :)

  12. Noora says:

    This is in response to the recent pattern puzzle. Loved it. This is how I altered it.

    Well, this is how I think the pattern was done: I think the original pattern was cut straight out to bicep level, then curved in to below the hip, with an opening left for the arm and for the legs. In mine, the fabric has a back seam to double the width and make long sleeves. It is cut in, but the sleeve is only sewn up to the elbow, leaving a blank, large gusset for the upper arm to fit all sizes. Then the bottom portion is sewn from the dropped armscye/gusset area straight out to the same length of the sleeve, belt attached at each end. and curved down to below the ankles (requires high heels).

    It is wrapped around the bust area to pull up some of the slack and also leave the waist not distinct. It ties in the back at shoulder blade level (although thinking about it now, it will probably slide down, so it will have to tie back around to the front above the bust area…).
    Well, I call it a Kimono design because of the loose sleeves and the high obi. I’ve always wanted the obi belt to be at the bust level to accommodate my figure. I think this may work.
    I had to take a break from my normal newspaper work to do this because I just loved it and it would work very well with my line as an over garment.

  13. Dorette says:

    Hi everybody!

    What a great dress, that ‘One Dress’. Does anybody have the pattern? I would just LOVE to make it!



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