Open Back Flower Dress




Introduction: Open Back Flower Dress

About: I'm a visual artist and fashion designer. I make pretty things. I post pictures of what I make on my website:

For this dress, my inspiration was a bit Audrey Hepburn, a bit Miu Miu 2008, a bit Luella (with her heart shaped cut-outs), and a bit of happen-stance with finding a beautiful printed organza.

I use flat patterning to create a contour fit bodice and circle skirt.

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Step 1: Supplies

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For making the pattern
Patterning Paper
Gridded Rulers
A Hip/Sleeve Curve
Paper Scissors
Pencil and Eraser
Cork Panels
A Flexible Rulers

Flexible Breast Cups

Fabric Scissors
Embroidery Scissors
Satin Pins
Seam Ripper
Size 9 Sewing Machine Needles
Fine Thread

Step 2: Bodice Pattern Manipulation

To begin, you need to find a block (also called a sloper). Mine comes from a patterning book I own. You can also start with a basic pattern like McCall's Pattern 2718 but be sure you do a test fit and modify the pattern until you are happy with how it fits your body.

First, decide where you want the dart (fullness) to be moved to. I chose to place my fullness into a French Dart that ends 2" above the waist on the side seam.  Place several cork panels out and lay the block on top of the cork. Place fresh patterning paper on top of the block and trace the Center Front (CF) line.

To remove the waist dart and move the fullness into the French dart, trace from CF to the first waist dart leg. With a pin in the apex (farthest outward point of the bust) rotate the pattern so the waist dart is closed. Continue tracing the waist line and up the side seam to the place you want the French Dart to be.

Rotate the pattern to the original orientation.

Trace from CF to the bust dart. On my block the bust dart ends where the neck and shoulder seam meet. If you are working with a bust dart that is on the side seam (like in the McCall's basic pattern) trace from the CF neck, through the shoulder seam, around the armscye, and down the side seam until you reach the first dart let of the bust dart. With the pin still in the apex point, rotate the bust dart closed. Continue tracing from the closed dart leg to the point where you want the French Dart to fall.

Set the block aside and work with the traced pattern for the following steps.

Create your bust radius by measuring from your apex to your underbust. This will most likely be between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 inches depending on how large your cup size is. Draw a circle with that radius from the apex point.

Since this is a contour fit bodice you will want to take some from the armscye to prevent gaping. Draw in a dart that is 1/2" wide at the arm hole.

Draw in the neckline and armscye you want for your style lines.

Place fresh paper on top of the pattern you have begun to modify.

Trace from the beginning of the French dart around the bodice until you reach the dart in the armscye. Rotate that armscye dart closed, continue tracing from the armscye dart to the other leg of the French Dart.  The line of the armscye is no longer a smooth continuous line. You need to "true" the line by redrawing it. The preferred way to do this is to split the difference.

To finish truing the front bodice, close the french dart and secure it. This will stay closed through 1 manipulation and for cutting the pattern from paper.

Trace the back from the block. Close the darts and secure them (I used masking tape).

Now that you have your preferred neck and armscye on the front, you need to modify the back to agree with the front. Line up the front and back shoulder seams. Make the neckline a smooth continuous line between the front and back and do the same for the armscye.

Now you need to determine how you want the back cutout to be shaped. I created a neck and waist buttoned overlap and laid the buttons out to determine the arrangement that I liked visually. Then, simply draw in the lines that will become your stitching lines.

Because this is a contour fit bodice, a bit needs to be trimmed from the side seam. The side seam at the waist remind the same but shave 1/2" from the bust of the side seam.

Step 3: Skirt Pattern Manipulation

The skirt is a circle skirt. You need to determine the radius to create a circle to fit around your waist. Below is the equation:

Waist measurement (taken from the bodice) - 1" for stretch.
Divide that number by 3.1415
Divide that answer by 2
Subtract your desired Seam Allowance
That's your radius.

How about a real number based example?
If your bodice waist measures 25"
25" - 1" = 24
24/3.1415 = 7.63
7.63/2 = 3.32  <- Radius for your stitching line
If you want a 1/2 seam allowance, draw a 2 3/4" radius circle to create your cutting line.

I use a simple string, pencil, and pin compass to create my circle skirt lines. I line up my pencil with a mark the appropriate distance from the center of the circle and place a pin through the string. I draw in the circle. I repeat this to create the bottom edge of the circle (hem of the skirt).

I created a 1/4 circle for the front and the back because I will cut the fabric on the fold for CF and add a seam allowance on the CB. The front is shorter than the back and I split the difference at the side seam and blend the two lines together so they will sew into a smooth slant.

I drew in contrast bands, traced the bands onto new patterning paper to make separate pieces.

Step 4: Prep the Fabric

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Add appropriate seam allowances to all edges of all pieces. Think about which pieces will sew to which pieces when adding seam allowances. A good standard rule is:
1/2" Seam Allowances on straight lines (example: side seams)
1/4" Seam Allowances on curves (example: neckline, bottom edge of skirt)
3/8" Seam Allowances on curves that will be stressed (example: armscye)

Create pieces for fusible interfacing the neckline/armscye and the back that do not cross into the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Cut the pieces from appropriate fabric.

Fuse interfacing and transfer needed match markings.

Step 5: Sew the Bodice Lining

I incorporated the bust cups into this design because the open back prevents me from wearing a bra and I wanted an extra layer of protection between me and the world.

Sew the two princess lines of the bodice lining. The bust cups will be sewn into the inside of the lining. Use the princess seam to align the top of the bust cup and place them the same distance from the side seam. It takes a bit of pinning and smoothing but you want the bust cups to sit smoothly inside the lining. Sew the bust cups to the lining with a zig-zag stitch.

Step 6: Sew the Bodice

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I chose to do a layer of printed organza over a layer of satin. I treat the two layers as one.

Sew the darts on the front bodice. Press the fullness of the darts down toward the waist.

Sew the shoulder seams of the front and back bodice together and do the same with the front and back of the lining.

Matching the right sides of the lining and the right sides of the outer garment, sew the neckline together and the armscye. It can be helpful to do a preliminary line of ironing to press the seams before turning. Clip any curves and corners that will give you trouble once the bodice is turned right side out.

Turn the garment right side out by passing the back through the shoulder seam.

Now sew the side seams together matching the front outer to the back outer and the front lining to the back lining.

Press the side seams open and align the waist edge of the lining and outer garment.

Mark the placement of the buttons and buttonholes. Sew the button holes and attach the buttons.

Step 7: Sew the Skirt

Sew the contrast bands in place. Press the seam allowances so they sit behind the opaque satin. You may need to clip the top curve of the satin bands so it sits right.

When all the contrast bands are sewn to the organza, sew the hem of the outer fabric to the lining fabric. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8". Turn and press.

To accommodate the fabric that wants to shred and so that a seam allowance does not show on the front, I used French seams. The side seams of the skirt were sewn wrong sides together at 1/2 of the seam allowance. (The total seam allowance was 1/2" so the first line of stitching was 1/4" from the cut edge). I trimmed the seam allowance to 3/16" to get ride of the threads and to be sure the raw edge is contained. I pressed the seam and folded the fabric so that right sides were together and sewed a seam 1/2" the original allotted seam allowance (in my case 1/4" again).

At Center Back I added a zipper for a closure. I sewed the seam closed at CB, using a basting stitch for the length of the zipper and a normal length stitch for what will not become zipper.

With the CB seam pressed open, I sewed the zipper in place through all layers.

The seam finish I used for the CB seam was a roll under and line of stitching.

Attach the skirt to the bodice at the waist seam, complete your desired seam finish and it is ready to go!

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    3 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I absolutely love the shape of this dress, especially the open back!

    I adore the open back. This dress is lovely, and congratulations on your win in the contest!