Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

DIY cutout back dress tutorial - use your favorite pattern!

I've got another tutorial for you on how to modify your fave basic dress pattern - this time for a backless or cutout shape back dress!

I did a Sewing Circle post once for a reader who wanted tips on making backless dresses. There aren't many commercial patterns out there for them, so I talked about modifying a similar pattern. This tutorial goes into more detail, and shows you how to do a cutout back detail!

How to Make a Cutout Back Dress from a Basic Dress Pattern

Just like my DIY crop top tutorial last week, you can do this method with just about any basic dress pattern. I recommend one with one piece for the back, for simplicity, but you could probably figure it out with a princess seam back or midriff panel waist dress pattern as well. (I used one of my favorites, Simplicity 1873, for this one. Simplicity 2444 would also be great.)

Have fun with the cutout back design you choose! There are lots of heart cutout dresses, big diamonds, multiple cutouts, rectangles, deep Vs... you can probably do a Pinterest search and get creative if you don't already have a dress in mind you're looking to emulate! Or add this detail to any simple summery or party dress and design your own. You can use this tutorial to cut any shape.

I had a variety of inspirations for this dress, but one of them pretty similar to what I ended up with was this one.



Cut out the required pattern pieces, front and back/sleeves/skirt, fashion fabric and lining. We'll focus on the back pieces.

Measure 1.5" or more from the top neck edge and mark with a fabric pen (depending on what seam allowances you prefer. If you always use 1/2" seam allowances and want a 2" wide piece, for example, mark 3" down at the center back).

Now, get creative! Draw the shape you're imagining for your cutout back. Mine was an oval.

Once you're happy with it, cut it out.

Now cut the lining, if you're using one. (Note that the better way to do this is probably to draft a paper pattern or cut the lining first, but... I live on the edge. ;) Plus, you wanted to see the fashion fabric in the photos, right? So, do the above steps with the lining if you want to play it a little safer!)

Assemble the bodice as you normally would. Darts, side seams, etc., fashion fabric and lining. Follow the pattern instructions but don't do anything at the center back seam. Sew right sides together fashion fabric and lining at neck openings, armholes, and - gotcha! - the inside of the cutout shape and the center back seam at the top (see arrows). Snip the corners at the right angles for easier turning.

Again following the pattern instructions, snip around the inside edges of the lining and then the fashion fabric--again, do this for the cutout shape as well.

Follow the pattern instructions... understitch or topstitch around the edges; press seams.

Assemble the top shoulder seams per pattern instructions.

(Assemble bodice and skirt wherever the instructions tell you to.)

Install zipper per pattern instructions but only going up to the bottom edge of the cutout. At the top of the cutout opening, add a button and buttonhole, snaps, or hooks and eyes for closure.

All done!

It is very hard to take a great picture of the back view of the top part of a dress - hence the awkward hair pull-aside. But you get the idea. Back/side/front!

This fabric actually used to be one of those pre-ruched tube top dress fabric yardages--I bought it at Goodwill for something like $1.99 because I loved the classic blue and white color. I wrapped it around myself like the tube top style it was meant to be (one-seam sewing project) and decided nope, not flattering! So I cut it apart and used the smooth yardage for this pattern!

I just barely had enough fabric for the skirt, which is why it is a sort of wimpy 1/4 circle skirt.

It was so fun! I think I'll have to do it again with another shape!!

You can do it too!


  1. I like the idea of adapting an existing pattern to get this effect. Great idea!

  2. Great tutorial, thanks for sharing!!

  3. I love this dress. I love that the bodice material goes in a different direction from the skirt!! Great idea!!

  4. I love it! Very flattering and a great print. I always wondered what to do with those one seam projects. Thanks for inspiring

  5. Great idea and great dress! It turned out really cute! You're really good!



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