Self-drafted, Open Back Sundress

For the past two summers, an open back sundress has been on my “must-make” list. I never found a suitable pattern and therefore never got around to it, until now. About a month-and-a-half ago, I decided to create an open back sundress pattern from my own basic bodice pattern (which I have drafted and re-drafted in attempts to get the perfect fit).

Anyway, to make the new pattern, I simply traced the basic pattern and reworked it according to what I wanted the new dress to look like. I lowered the front neckline a little and the back neckline a lot.

I made a muslin, because I knew that there would be fitting issues once I changed the back neckline.

So, once I had the muslin made, I had gaping at both the front and back necklines. To remedy this problem, I pinched the same amount on each side of the necklines and created a dart with pins that I would leave closed during the pattern drafting process.

I also had to convert the darts in the back into seams, and adjust the neckline.

To draft the new pattern, I opened all of the seams and darts back up, except for the ones at the neckline. Then, I traced around the fabric.

Once I had this new pattern complete, I made a wearable muslin with a knit fabric (for the skirt, I just used one of my existing patterns that matched up with the new bodice pattern).

This first pattern produced a moderately low back, but I wanted something a little more dramatic. So, I set to work creating another pattern with a lower open back.

For some reason I don’t have pictures of that final re-draft, but here’s a picture of the pattern pieces and the fabric I used for the final dress.

I also used some blue cotton fabric  to make a lining. I didn’t use any interfacing for this project, because both of the fabrics were pretty stiff on their own.

Once I had the bodice and the lining sewn up, I sewed them together along the neckline.

The bodice and lining pieces, before I sewed them together

At this point, I got a bit forgetful and ceased taking pictures. I’m not sure what happened, but I’ll describe the rest of the process.

I serged the seam and stitched that bodice/lining seam to the lining. To finish the armholes I folded both the lining and the bodice armhole edges under and top-stitched very close to the edge of the armhole.

I then attached the bodice to a basic skirt, added the invisible zipper, and hemmed the dress.

The bright floral sundress below was the final result.

I didn’t have shoes that matched at the time I took these pictures. It gave me a reason to look for some white shoes. Coincidentally, I just found some cute white flats that were new with their original tags, at a thrift store in Idaho.

The fabric that I used is a vintage, cotton floral, which I purchased on eBay some months back.

I also decided to sew the bodice muslin back together and make a dress from it. I will share that dress in a separate post, as well as the muslin I made from the knit material.

  1. elise

    June 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    What a wonderful dress you made/designed. It looks stunning on you ! I saw it on Brudastyle and clicked on the link you left. I’m so happy I did . I love it.


    1. Becca

      June 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Thank you for your sweet words! I’m glad you clicked through too. 🙂

  2. liza jane

    June 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I love the silhouette of this dress. Sometimes I think the open back can be hard to wear, but this one is very flattering and pretty.

    1. Becca

      June 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Thank you very much! I agree, that they can be hard to wear at times. It definitely all depends on the fit. If it’s too loose, the straps slip off of the shoulders. If it’s too tight, it’s uncomfortable. Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  3. Lindsay

    June 15, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I love the low back! It’s very flattering on you. Congrats!

  4. Michelle

    June 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    *GASP* I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE This! I attempted to search for some backless patterns but had little luck. I’m not sure I’m skilled enough… or at least not confident enough in my skill-set to try this, but I want to make something similar so badly, I may have to try!

    1. Becca

      June 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

      Thanks, and you can do it! Give drafting your own backless dress pattern a try, and have fun. I’m sure you’ll create something much more beautiful than mine. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  5. lasandrou

    June 15, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I’m absolutely in love with your dress ! You did a great job !

  6. Lizzy

    June 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Just lovely! you did a great job and I olve the fabric too.

  7. Nina

    June 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    A beautiful dress! And it fits you so well 🙂 I also like the color of the lining, it makes clothes look so much more special when they’re on a hanger and you can see their insides “pop”.

    1. Becca

      June 22, 2011 at 8:58 am

      Thanks! I love adding lining that “pops.” It’s great when a garment looks pretty on a hanger, and when it looks good inside and out.

  8. The Creative Miss W

    June 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Your dress is gorgeous! great job! Love the fabric too.

  9. Dominika

    June 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

    It’s absolutely stunning!!!

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  11. nini

    June 9, 2013 at 5:44 am

    What a fantastic dress! May I ask if/how you wear a bra?

    1. Becca

      June 10, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Thank you! Last year, I wore it with a strapless backless bra.

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