Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making a Cutout Back Lined Dress with a Center Back Zipper

It's Do Over Week over at Sew Weekly, which means a chance to revisit an old pattern, whether a failure or a success. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't have a particular wish to revisit my failures; enough new ones pop up without going back to dig up old ones. So I thought I'd revisit one of my favorite dresses, and incidentally the most-favourited of my projects on Burdastyle. It's based on McCall's 5845; I love the shoulders and collar of the bodice, and the numerous darts, while a pain to sew, make the fit absolutely perfect.

In my Nothing But Blue Skies dress, my favorite feature was the interesting back, which featured a tie knot and was definitely a little surprise when contrasted with the more austere front with its high neckline (as much as a bright blue cloud print can be austere).

High neckline gives no indication of the party in the back.
For my retake, I decided to use my other thrifted superhero sheet, Batman's fellow Justice League-r, Superman. Might as well get all my geekery out at once, right?

I decided to put a cutout on the back of the dress that would echo the shape of Superman's iconic S emblem. After some poking around the internet, I found Chie of Vivat Veritas' heart cutout tutorial and Adrianna of Crafterhour's keyhole back cutout tutorial. However, neither was quite exactly what I was looking for; I wanted a center back zip instead of a side zip. So after some thought and mental spatial manipulation, I came up with the following process.

First, I sewed up the neckhole and armholes of my bodice, right sides together. Then I sketched the shape I wanted on the lining of the dress using a washable fabric marker.

I pinned around the cutout to hold the bodice and lining together, then sewed the outline of the cutout.

Next, I cut out the middle with pinking shears and clipped the corners.

Then 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.
Lining side.
"Fashion" fabric side.

I sewed the side seams by flipping the two sides up and matching them, as shown in this very helpful tutorial by Kitschy Coo. Here's how it looks on Cecily:
Held in place with pins for now.

To finish the dress, I'll insert a zipper in the bottom portion as I normally would, then add a button or a hook and eye to the top little strappy thing. I haven't decided which would be better yet. Obviously, you could do this with any shape -- a heart, a cat head silhouette, or get really ambitious and do a bat signal. Or something. Just saying, you're not restricted to a Superman cutout.

I'm planning on just making a quick gathered rectangle skirt for this dress, and then look out! Crazy geek girl in a superhero dress (but with a cool back detail), the reprise!


  1. OK, this is so awesome. Can't wait to see it finished. :)

  2. OMG. I just love this!! I am with Tanit-Isis ...can't wait to see the dress finished...it's going to be fabulous!

  3. There are no words for how amazing this is. I love it so much that I had to pin it on Pinterest so I can revisit it and sigh with happiness. Well done!

  4. Oh my gosh, that is soooo nerdtastically cool. I was thinking of using children's novetly print for an upcoming dress but wasn't sure... but now I think I shall.

  5. The awesomeness of this is outta control! I can't wait to see the finished dress!!!

  6. This is fabulous! What a great idea.

  7. This is great, thank you so much for sharing! I was just wondering, do you do the darts on the lining and the shell separately?

    1. Yes, otherwise you can't flip it inside out because the pieces are stuck together. Also, with darts done separately, you can hide the ugly parts inside the space between the shell and the lining.

    2. Thank you so much! Your blog is so helpful!


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