Bow Back Dress Tutorial – (30) Days of Sundresses Day 1

Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Yay! It’s the first day of (30) Days of Sundresses and I get to kick it off.  Today I’m sharing this bow back dress tutorial.


Thanks to our awesome (30) Days of Sundress Sponsors – Baby Lock Sewing and Embroidery, and this week’s giveaway sponsor  Raspberry Creek Fabrics – go here to enter for a chance to win a $50 store credit.

And if you want to share your sundress goodness on Instagram or Facebook, use the #30DaysOfSundresses hashtag. A small sampling:

We have a wedding to go to this summer. Well, fall really, but September is still summer weather in Texas. It’s a wedding that’s been a long time coming – my brother-in-law is finally marrying the girl he’s been with for almost a decade.  Anyone else get to go to one of those kind of weddings? We’re pretty excited, and the boys will be dual ringbearers again. And I love to sew dresses for weddings, so this one is a definite contender. That is, if it doesn’t get worn out before then.

So pretty! Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

In a hot summer like we have in Texas, this open back catches the breeze. But the wide straps and the bow mean you can still wear a regular bra. And dress it up with the right accessories and it is perfect for a summer wedding.

To make your own, first you’re going to need a tank top pattern. There are several ways you could get one if you don’t have one. One way would be to rub off a pattern from a tank top you own, using this method. Another option would be to start with a bodice pattern, maybe even the free one from this post. You’ll want to cut the seam allowances off the armscyes. (Don’t know what armscyes are? Check this post).

If your bodice has a front bust dart, you’re going to want to  to close it. To do this, you cut a slit in the pattern, then rotate the dart closed. This will make the side seam flare out, and you can continue this flare for an A-Line style dress.

How to close a bust dart, extend into an A line dress -

For the back bodice, which usually doesn’t have a dart, all you have to do is draw in the A line for the skirt, and cut out the opening on the back. Drop a line straight down from the shoulder point and curve in a few inches above the waist.


To make the dress, start by sewing the shoulders  and side seams, right sides together.

Step 1 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

To finish the edges you’ll need bias tape or, if you’re using a knit like I did,  knit fabric reinforced with knit interfacing to use similarly to bias tape. Your knit tape should still stretch. You want the knit interfacing to keep the armholes/back neck from sagging under the weight of the fabric and stretching your neckline down to reveal more than you want.

Sew the bias tape or knit interfaced tape around the neckline, right sides together. You want to stretch around the curviest parts in the back and the front. This is so that when you fold the tape over it doesn’t wrinkle up on the inside edge.

Step 2 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Sew tape around the armholes, right sides together as well, stretching the tape slightly, but not the fabric.

Step 3 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Fold the bias tape or knit tape to the wrong side of the fabric, folding the raw edge under, and stitch close to the edge. The WRONG side of the dress is shown below.

Step 4 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

To make the bow, I cut a 10″ x 10″ square. You may want to make your bow piece wider depending on the size of your back opening. Fold it right sides together and stitch around  two sides.

Step 5 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Use the open side to turn the bow right side out. Press, then press the raw edges to the inside. Topstitch around the bow to close the opening.

Step 6 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Pin the bow piece over where your bra strap goes – you may need to try this on to check. Measure from each shoulder seam down the neckline to make sure you have the bow piece sitting even.

Step 7 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

On the inside of the dress, hand stitch the edges of the bow in place, sewing only through the bottom layer of the bow.

Cut a tube about 3 inches wide and 3 inches long. Fold in half, right sides together, and stitch down one edge. Turn tube right side out. Sew a snap onto the ends of the tube so that when you close the snap it forms a ring. Since I used knit fabric I didn’t worry about finishing the ends of my tube, but if you are using woven you can push the raw edges to the inside and topstitch closed like you did for the bow piece.

Step 8 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Snap the tube around the bow center to form the bow. When you wear the dress, you’ll snap this around your bra strap, making sure everything stays in place.

Step 9 - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Add a big hat and some flowers and you’re styled to go!

Coral Flowers and mint green dress - perfect style! -

Check out how the bow attaches to your bra - so it won't slip -

Comfy and cute - sundress and hat -

Gorgeous dress with bow back - perfect for summer weddings -

Hat, flowers, sundress - gorgeous summer style - Bow Back Dress Tutorial -

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow – we’ve got a giveaway from Raspberry Creek Fabrics and a new tutorial from One Little Minute.

Hooray - you read the whole post! Wanna hang out more? Check out the best sewing pins with me on Pinterest, join our Facebook discussions, get your daily sewing fix and behind the scenes scoops on Instagram, and your weekly updates/free pattern access through the newsletter


  1. Peggy says

    Thanks for one of the best and most simple summer dresses I have seen yet this year. Even with what I have seen out in the stores! I love it!

  2. Shelley says

    This is such a cute dress! Simple, easy, quick – my three favorite words when it comes to sewing for summer. I have used the bow across the back to hide the bra trick, but not recently. I see a new sundress in my future. Thanks for taking time to share. Great job!

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