Friday, July 18, 2014

Make it: Open Back Dress

Hello my little chickadees!

Wow! I've said it in my last post and I will say it again: Instagram is AMAZING. Seeing your sewing and knitting in real time has been making me feel so connected to you all -- Your creativity, your openness, your energy... you are really inspiring me to step up my sewing and push myself outside of my comfort zone even more.

It's funny, for a long time, throughout high school and university, I yearned to be part of a creative community. I always thought of myself as creative, and I felt finding a community would be the key to actualizing this creative spirit that lived in me. In my young mind, the only way I knew to find a creative community was to hang around Kensington Market and the Annexe in Toronto -- The two "cool" places near me that matched a little bit my romantic image of NYC Greenwich Village or Paris Montparnasse... So I began getting involved in Toronto's cultural scene, organizing Ladyfest Toronto, playing guitar and attending open mics (so cliché, I know... I had dreadlocks in those days!). I never really succeeded in finding the community I was looking for then.

Back then, I would have never guessed that I would end up finding my community eventually, but that it would look completely different than the picture I had in my mind. (I guess you could say that about a lot of things in life.) I would never have guessed that my community would end up being online and centered on sewing. Now, looking back, it feels totally like "Of course!". Of course, my medium is sewing. Of course, finding this community needed to happen naturally and organically. Of course, it ended up being an online. Today, at 29 years of age, I can say that I am so grateful to have found a place where my creativity can flourish -- Readers, bloggers and fellow dressmakers, thank you for understanding and sharing my deep love of sewing. ♥ ♥ ♥

If the thought of soon being separated from my sewing machine for a week makes me a little sad as we get ready to hike the highest mountain in Sweden (the sun will still be shining at 11:45PM, I'm told. Can you imagine?), I tell myself that there will be Instagram to stay connected. And outside of cellular reception, there will be plenty of time to dream of sewing projects, my mostest favourite thing to do next to sewing. :-)

Getting back to our topic... drafting the Open Back Dress! This Club Monaco knock-off is really quite simple: no darts, considerable ease, and only a back zipper which could very well be omitted if your backside is on the flat side, or if the difference between your waist and your hip measurements is small (errr, not my case... ).

The diagram bellow is not to scale (obvs...) but it gives an idea of the way the pieces are supposed to look. Take note of the boxy, trapeze shape of the bodice pieces, for example. It's really that simple.

Here's how to do it: Starting with your bodice and skirt slopers* (or blocs),
- Drop the shoulder line on the bodice by about 3 inches to create the dropped sleeves.
- Pivot the bust dart to the bottom of the sloper (if your sloper has side bust darts) adding a few more inches for a loser or a more voluminous bust if desired. (The idea is that the bust darts are contained in the gathers of the waist.)
- Width of the waistband: 1 inch
- Length of the waistband: your waist measurement. For added comfort, you can add two or three inches and insert an elastic at the back of the dress like I did.
- Waistband facing is the same as the waistband piece.
- Skirt: add four inches ease or more, with the darts contained in the waist gathers.
- Neckline and armholes finished with fold-over elastic or bias tape (keep it simple!) -- no neckline or armhole facing pieces.
- Make sure to cut the neckline big enough to fit over your head... or add an opening of some sort at the shoulder seam, perhaps button or snap closures.
- Don't forgot to add seam allowance to your pieces before cutting!

After you've made your muslin, you will see clearly what works and what needs to be tweaked in your pattern. If there is a lot of changes to be made, a second muslin is never be a bad idea. :-) Patience, patience, patience is the mother of beautiful clothes! :-)

Good luck, and happy drafting! Let me know if you have questions in the comments.

Next up, I'll go over the details of assembly, going over the waist area in more details, as requested by Dana from Wardrobe Dysfunction. It's going to be next week, though, because I have to hike Mount Kebnekaise first!


* If you don't have slopers yet, there are plenty of resources online for making your own. Craftsy, eSewingWorkshop are solid resources, albeit not free, and Madalynne has awesome blog posts on making your blocs as well as other pattern drafting info. You can also order a "basic pattern" from one of the Big Four pattern companies and then adjust it to your figure by trial-and-error until it's perfect.


  1. You make it sound so easy! I'm really into back detaljs at the moment, and this is a nice one. Good luck climbing the Kebnekaise! (And i think i need pictural evidence of you in dreadlocks! I have a really hard time imagining you, classy and very elegant, in dreadlocks... Sorry if this is a bit of a prejudice)

  2. This is so awesome! Thanks for the tutorial, I'm going to give it a go sometime.

  3. Ha! This is great! I come back from a vacation, and here you are, on Instagram nevertheless! Remember how when we met in TO you were considering not blogging anymore, since all the social media were taking too much time and all that? I am so glad you're back on the roll! It's always great to read your posts!


Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are moderated on posts older than 20 days, so they won't appear immediately. :-)

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