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a sunback dress

Added Jun 21, 2010

by elegantmusings

Virginia, Virgin...






This dress was inspired by all the backless/peek-a-boo back dresses I’d seen popping up online during the late winter. I love the look, and it seemed perfectly suited to the hot Florida summer. I used a 1940s dress pattern for this–one I’ve used in the past –and just modified it to suit my design needs. The main fabric is a thrifted “mystery content” material I found when my mom was visiting; I think it feels like a rayon blend, but I never did do a burn test, so I have no idea! I really wanted the contrast band along the neckline, but kind of wish I had echoed it in the skirt as well. It’s not a huge deal–I just have to wear a white belt to balance the band in the dress (yes, I am a freak about making sure things are visually balanced).

I have to admit, I’m on the fence about this one. After all, not every project goes smoothly, turns out exactly as envisioned, or even is something I love in the end–and being realistic about that is good for putting the lessons I learned in perspective. I don’t really like the skirt; part of this is the length (I think I need to shorten it about 1″), and also the gathering (I might figure out about redoing that too–but I think I serged the seam…). I feel like it makes my hips look about 10 times wider (it doesn’t look bad in the photos, but it real life I think it does). Also: the bodice style isn’t the best for the open back. (Mental note: next time I do a style with a peek-a-boo back, use a bodice that has a lot more fitting–it won’t bag under the arms!)

So this one isn’t a total success–I learned a few things (especially about how tricky doing a “winging it” dress while on the road is! Mental note #2: save those drafting projects for at-home sewing.), which is always useful in any project that doesn’t turn out like my sketch. After all: how else do we learn than to hit a few bumps along the way and make a couple mistakes? The key, for me, is not letting my perceived “failures” (which I hesitate to call this one, because it isn’t) get in the way of progressing or killing my sewing mojo!

Material Notes

rayon blend, ric rac




Garment Type

18 Comments Sign in to add a post

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    Jan 5, 2012, 04.52 AMby vbt4

    absolutely stunning!

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    Jun 23, 2010, 05.17 AMby mischi


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    Jun 22, 2010, 08.43 PMby lizah

    super cute!

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    Jun 22, 2010, 03.04 PMby brownlow3


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    Jun 22, 2010, 12.38 PMby daicrinne

    I think it’s very cute! I like how there are more gathers on the side of the skirt and then even more in the back. There’s nothing wrong with wide hips (and really, the photos are probably right, it doesn’t make you look like you have wide hips!). The length looks fine in the back, but I agree you could take it up an inch in the front and show a bit more knee. Perhaps you could put an extra stay across the middle of the back to reduce the bagging out near the arms? It’s always great to learn from your sewing – I know I’ve had some minor flops (and big flops). I still think that this is a very cute dress, Casey!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 09.43 PMby szarlotka

    so beautiful… <3

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    Jun 21, 2010, 09.39 PMby tamezdc

    What a nice dress! I like everything about it, the neckline detail, the back, the belt and specially how it fits you perfectly!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 08.50 PMby apvolek21

    SO cute! The belt and red shoes really enhance an already beautiful dress! Way to go!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 08.14 PMby iroiro

    Well, I personally think it looks gorgeous, and is such a good idea. I hope you will wear it lots as it looks great!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 07.28 PMby ashchaser

    You may not absolutely love this but its fantastic and sooo classy! I would like to wander around in a giant flower garden, sipping a mojito and wearing this….

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    Jun 21, 2010, 06.24 PMby nuiwida23

    Gorgeous, I LOVE open back dresses…you have kept the balance between sexy and sophisticated. Great job :)

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    Jun 21, 2010, 06.12 PMby gedwoods

    Lovely design and execution, especially at the back! I do see what you mean about the front, but the back of the dress is a success. Maybe you just need to tweak the front a little to get it right? I find the front gives an impression of a bit too much fabric and hence doesn’t quite balance with the back…

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    Jun 21, 2010, 06.08 PMby cquinn13

    while the fit isn’t perfect, it is a lovely design and i’m sure if you made it again it would be spot on! it’s always hard to get a great fit when you have a wide open space like that, i’ve found i need to make the pieces a bit smaller than if it were ‘closed’. i personally like the extra bit of volume at the hips, gives a great hourglass look. the red shoes are awesome with it!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 06.08 PMby tinybows

    Love this!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 06.05 PMby anna agyekum

    I like to call it my sewjo :) this should deffinalty not kill it i think the idea is beautiful and the dress itself is too it would make a sexy wiggle dress! iIf i had a back llike yours i would like to show it off to!!!

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    Jun 21, 2010, 05.43 PMby wzrdreams

    I think the design is pretty cool, even if you think the fit isn’t perfect… I agree that this is not a failure and I like your attitude about not letting perceived failures kill your sewing mojo.

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    Jun 21, 2010, 05.43 PMby wzrdreams

    I think the design is pretty cool, even if you think the fit isn’t perfect… I agree that this is not a failure and I like your attitude about not letting perceived failures kill your sewing mojo.

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    Jun 21, 2010, 05.38 PMby juebejue

    i think it looks GREAT! the back peekaboo reminded me of a wedding dress that lea from project runway did :)

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