Introduction: Peek-a-Boo Back Dress!

I made this dress to wear for my college graduation :) I have included a step by step Instructable so you can make your own! It's a cute tank top with ribbon straps, an open back, and a simple skirt with an elastic waistband. It would look great in any color or even a printed fabric....get creative!

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

-1.5 yards of fabric
-1 yard of elastic
-2 yards of grosgrain ribbon
-Front and back bodice block
-Pattern drafting supplies (paper, tape, ruler, pencil)
-1 large safety pin
-Tape measure
-Sewing machine

Step 2: Front Bodice

On a front bodice block or pattern piece draw in your new neckline. I used a dress I had and modeled the neckline after it. 3 inches down from the shoulder draw a 1 inch parallel line connecting to the neckline. This 1 inch line will be where the ribbon shoulder strap is connected. Next connect the armhole line to this 1 inch parallel line by blending the line into the pattern piece. Add a 1/4 inch seam allowance to the neckline, strap connector, and armhole, add a 1/2 inch seam allowance to the side seam, and add a 3/4 inch seam allowance to the waistline. For this pattern you will disregard all darts. To learn how to make your own bodice blocks, try a tutorial such as

Step 3: Back Bodice

On the back bodice block draw a straight line across the back about 4 inches down from the back neckline. Make sure the line is 90 degrees square with the center back. Add a 1/4 seam allowance to the center back and armhole and top neckline, add a 1/2 inch seam allowance to the side seam, and add a 3/4 inch seam allowance to the waistline. Cut off the top part of the bodice disregarding any darts. 

Step 4: Skirt

With a tape measure, take you hip measurement (this is the widest part of the buttocks) and add 3 inches. This will be the waist circumference of your skirt including the seam allowance. The length depends on how long or short you want the dress to be, but I went with 20 inches in length. With the waist circumference and length cut a rectangle of fabric.    

Step 5: Finishing the Bodice Side Seams

You want the waistline on the bodice and the skirt to be the same length. Measure the bodice waistline including seam allowances on the front and back to get the waistline circumference. Next you will subtract this number from the skirt waistline circumference. For example my bodice waistline is 33 inches and my skirt waistline is 41 inches, so 41-33=8. Next you will take this calculated 8 inches and evenly add it into the 4 side seams, so 8 inches divided by 4 sides seams is 2 inches per side seam. Revisit your front and back bodice pattern pieces and tape some drafting paper to the side seams. Continue the waistline out at the side seams 2 inches and draw a line up and connect it up to the arm hole tapering the line in.

Step 6: Front Bodice Knife Pleats

Add 2 knife pleats to the front of the bodice on the neckline. 1/2 inch from the center front add a notch and 1 inch from this notch add another notch, in between the two notches will be the inner-fold. Add other notch 1 inch from the second notch and another notch 1 inch from the third. There will be 4 notches all together that make 2 knife pleats.

Step 7: Cut Bodice Pieces

Now that all the bodice pattern pieces are drafted, it's time to cut out the fabric pieces. Cut 1 front bodice on the fold and 2 back bodice pieces . 

Step 8: Sew Bodice Side Seams

Sew the bodice side seams together and press seams open.

Step 9: Fold Pleats

Fold the neckline pleats and pin in place. Stitch along the edge to hold in place. 

Step 10: Cut Bias Tape and Sew

Cut 5 pieces of 1 inch bias tape out of your fashion fabric. Make sure it is cut on a 45 degree angle to the selvage. Sew the bias tape onto the neckline, arm holes, and back peek-a-boo opening. A good tutorial on sewing on bias tape can be found at

Step 11: Back Neckline Casing

To make the back neckline casing fold the top over 1/4 inch and press, then fold over another 3/4 inch and press. Stitch along the edge to form a casing. 

Step 12: Sew Bodice to Skirt

Pin the bodice to the skirt, waistline to waistline. When you pin the waistlines together the skirt will have an extra 1 inch of fabric that will be used as a seam allowance later. Distribute the fabric evenly when pinning by leaving 1/2 inch of skirt fabric on each side.  Sew this seam with a 3/4 inch seam allowance.

Step 13: Waistline Casing

Fold the seam allowances of the waistline up towards the bodice and press. Sew along the edge of the seam allowances on the inside of the dress to form a casing for the elastic. 

Step 14: Elastic Waistband

Measure and trim your elastic to you desired length to fit around you waist (mine was 28"). Connect one end of your elastic to a large safety pin and feed it through the waistband casing. Once it is pulled through the casing sew both ends of the elastic together with a few stitches and backstitches. 

Step 15: Sew Skirt

Sew the skirt together at the center back with a 1/2 inch seam allowance (this was the extra 1 inch of  fabric from step 12). Press the seam open.

Step 16: Ribbon Straps

Sew a piece of grosgrain ribbon (about 1 yard long) to each of the straps, making sure it is securely sewn. Connect the other end of the ribbon to the safety pin and feed it through the back neckline casing on the corresponding side. Tie ribbons together into a bow and trim the ribbon if necessary. 

Step 17: Hem Skirt

Hem the skirt to your desired length.

Step 18: Try It On!

Try on your new "Peek-a-Boo Back Dress" and enjoy!!

**Thanks for looking! Don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions!**

BurdaStyle Fashion Challenge

Finalist in the
BurdaStyle Fashion Challenge