Can I create asymmetrical balance design without piecing the pattern pieces?

How can I translate asymmetrical balance into a garment?  For example, I am working on a kimono style jacket.  It of course has a back, two front panels and two sleeves.  How do I create asymmetrical balanced composition that works with all the different pieces of the garment?

I know that the different parts of the garment can be pieced to create the design.  I have done this in the past. I am wondering if there is a different way to create an asymmetrical balance design without piecing the pattern pieces?


Great practical question.

Piecing is obviously one way to create asymmetry. Here are a few others:

  1. Hand paint the garment to create the asymmetrical balance. For example, the back could be painted so that color shifts diagonally across the back panel. Asymmetry could be introduced to the front panels by doing the same thing - painting so color shifts across the surface - and then could even wrap around to the back so that the color shifts across the entire surface of the garment from front to back. This assumes painting just a couple colors together which would be the simplest version, and be a “color field” effect rather than recognizable elements.

  2. The front and back panels could actually have shapes or objects painted (or appliqued for that matter) onto the surface to create the asymmetrical balance (which is actually a cool thing to be talking about since the garment is essentially symmetrical. Introducing asymmetry onto a a symmetrical background is a neat paradox!) In this example, the objects added to the surface would need to balance based on placement. If a large circle was added to the back, it could be right in the center (radial symmetry) or it could be top right shoulder or top left shoulder, but probably needs to be down from the shoulder line a bit or it will look awkward! Use cut paper to play around with placement to see this for yourself. AND in a case where a large element is being added, it may very well be that the balance needs to be stabilized by adding two smaller elements to the composition (in this case the back of the garment) to balance out the large one.

    If it was a kimono form that was mainly going to be displayed on a rod with both sleeves extended, it would change the available shape and size of the composition - and that would expand the possibilities for designing. But as long as the design isn’t mirror-image, it will be asymmetrical whether you plan for it or not. Which is why it’s so worth it to PLAN in advance rather than defaulting!

  3. Another approach would be to literally make the sleeve and right side of the garment a different color from the left side & sleeve.

So you see there are a lot of ways to develop the piece. It would be fun to play around with cut paper shapes - the basic pieces of the garment - in order to explore the possibilities.