Making a Cutout Back Lined Dress With a Center Back Zipper




There are tutorials online for making back cutouts in dresses with side zippers, but I couldn't find any for dresses with center back zippers, so I thought it through and tried it. I wanted a diamond cutout to echo the shape of Superman's logo, since my dress was made with Superman fabric.

You can make this modification with any fairly fitted bodice pattern that has a center back zipper. I started with the McCall's 5845 pattern. These instructions assume that you are familiar with the basic steps of dressmaking and will not teach you to insert the zipper or make the dress; I'm only explaining how to modify your existing dress pattern for the cutout. 

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Step 1: Prep Your Bodice Pattern.

First, I sewed up the neckhole and armholes of my bodice, right sides together. Then I used a washable fabric marker to sketch the shape I wanted on the lining of the dress using a washable fabric marker. Make sure that you account for seam allowance. Note that I had the point of the diamond end where my center back seam will eventually be, not where the fabric ends.

You may find it helpful to sketch a shape on another piece of paper first, then use it to trace the outline onto your lining fabric.

Step 2:

I pinned around the cutout to hold the bodice and lining together, then sewed the outline of the cutout by following the lines I drew on the lining. Since my shape was all straight edges, it was pretty easy, just need to make sure to stop and pivot at the corners. If you are doing a shape with round edges, like a circle or heart, go slowly and rotate a little bit as you sew.

Step 3: Cut Out the Cutout!

I used pinking shears to cut out the diamond shape, leaving about 1/4 inch of seam allowance. I clipped the corners almost to the stitching line so that it would be a crisp corner once turned.

Step 4: Flip the Bodice Inside Out.

I carefully pulled the back pieces through the straps of the dress in order to flip the whole bodice right side out. I pressed the sewn edges to get the nice, crisp look that befits a superhero.

Step 5: Sew the Side Seams.

Once the bodice is flipped right side out, line up the sides by matching the lining pieces right sides together, flipping the fashion fabric up and lining the sides up. Make sure that the seams joining the fashion fabric and the lining (on the bottom of the armscye) match up. Stitch a straight line to join your bodice sides; your bodice should now be ready to insert a zipper. You will need to shorten your zipper length to accommodate the cutout. My pattern originally called for a 22" zipper; I used a 14" one.

Step 6: Continue With Your Dressmaking As Usual.

Once you attach the skirt portion to the bodice, you can insert a zipper as you normally would. To attach the little strap at the top, I just flipped the edges in and sewed on a hook and eye.

And then you're done!

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    22 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Great Idea :) Your dress is looking so beautiful


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi! Awesome dress! I tried finding the pattern but it seems to be a different dress :( You sure it's the 5845? Thanks!

    2 replies

    Yes, it's McCall's 5845, which is out of print. It doesn't really matter which pattern you use, though, as long as it has a fitted bodice.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually I think I found it.. is it this one?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Awsome! Excelent idea the re-use of the bed sheet... Looks just amazing! Congrats, it's a really cool project.

    The fabric is actually a children's bed sheet that I found in a thrift store. Old sheets are my favorite source of fabric -- so much yardage for very little cost, and it's recycling to boot!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Best use of children's sheets ever. This is awesome. To the point where I may need to learn to sew in order to give one of these to my girlfriend.

    That hole in the back, deliberately or not, looks like it could easily contain a very super S.

    3 replies

    Success! It looks super. I would go so far as to say super duper, even. Keep posting your sweet projects. (This one was one of the top ten projects for the month of December, according to the author newsletter.)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is amazing! I love it. You did such a great job and that cutout back makes it so much better.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    do you sell these dresses? I would totally buy one! I am not a great sewer and I don't have a sewing machine :(


    7 years ago on Introduction

    LOVE it, I might do something like this for the next ComicCon I attend, instead of a costume. Where'd you get the material? I'd have to look online because I live in Italy...oh, and I need to learn to sew -__-

    1 reply

    Thank you! I found this as a kids sheet in a thrift store, but then that kind of thing is much more common in the US. That said, I'm pretty sure you could order character sheets for whatever character you want online at the original retailer or on eBay.

    That was my thought exactly! I have another dress made from Batman sheets whose print is a little less...errr...obnoxious, and most people didn't even realize it was Batman until my husband pointed it out!

    Thanks for looking and commenting!