You may have already read my post on Adding a Corset Back To Your Wedding Dress.
Both that first post and this post offer a great option for dresses that don’t zip all the way up. This is a way to add extra room in any dress or top. Usually, you’ll find this option on formal wear and wedding dresses.
The first post, linked above, illustrated this concept with a wedding dress using a modesty panel in the back to hide the skin.
Today I am going to show you another way to add a corset back to your dress. And this one has a more open concept in the back. You could easily add a modesty panel if you choose. Just follow the modesty panel part of instructions on How To Add a Corset Back To Your Dress.
This is the prom dress I received this week:
It zipped about half way up in back, so the corset back was a perfect solution.
However, instead of using traditional loops, she wanted to use satin ribbon for the loops and ties.
I took this roll of satin ribbon and cut it into 2 inch lengths:
For this dress, I needed 10 of them. Five for one side of the center back opening and five for the other side. I like to use and odd number when possible. It just looks better to me.
I folded each of these 2 inch pieces in half and stitched them close to the cut edges. Then I clipped them apart from each other.
Then, I took out the zipper as far down the back as necessary.
In this case, I took the zipper out to the waist area.
I trimmed the zipper leaving an extra inch or two.
Make sure you add thread bar tacks across the top of both sides of the zipper. Do you see the tightly stitched stitches across the zipper tape? It may be a little difficult to see because of the black thread, but the upper one is easier to see, about a half inch from the cut edge of the zipper.
These bar tacks are very important so that, when you zip up, the zipper tab (also called a zipper pull) won’t come off of the zipper tape:
In the photo above, you can see that the lining is separate from the dress fabric.
I like to open up only what I need to to get the job done.
That way, when I’m finished, I don’t have to sew up alot.
On this dress, I also needed to create a new center back line. I couldn’t use the original center back line because the two sides would be too close together for you to see the ribbons or loops. You want a large enough gap to make it pretty. There is no rule here, just pull back enough to make it look good.
To do this, I drew a line from the waist diagonally up near the princess seam under the spaghetti strap and folded it back. In other words, I drew a line from the waist to the neck edge on a diagonal. (I couldn’t fold it back all the way to the princess seam because of the boning in the dress.) In sewing of all types, you’ll notice that there are times when hard and fast rules don’t or can’t work and you just have to use your imagination to find out a solution.
On this dress, I couldn’t press the fabric on that line with an iron due to the sequins that were on it. Sequins will melt with a touch of a warm or hot iron.
So, I topstitched that fold in place.
But my preference would have been to just press it in place.
Be sure and turn back the lining the same amount and press it.
Don’t forget to check the content of the lining fabric. It may need a cooler iron than the main dress fabric.
Now, sandwich those ribbon tabs that you made earlier, between the lining and the dress fabric. Make sure that each one sticks out the same amount (in this case, I thought 1/2 inch would look best):
Stitch these into place:
You’ll notice that I ended up using only four on each side. I realized that if I used five, the bottom two tabs would be smooshed together and the dress wouldn’t lay flat along the back, so I took the bottom ones out.
Now take the rest of your ribbon and “thread” it through the loops.
That’s all there is to it!
(I didn’t thread the ribbon through this dress because I didn’t want to wrinkle the ribbon for the customer, but you get the idea.)
You can thread the ribbon from bottom to top or from top to bottom.
Either way, it gives you a whole new way to solve the problem with a dress that doesn’t fit through the bust or back.
As I mentioned in the first post, you can put a modesty panel behind this area to cover the back if you don’t want the skin to show there.
Just add that piece when you sew in the ribbon tabs, leaving one side of it open so you can get into the dress.
See this post on How to Add a Corset Back To Your Dress for more details on that.
If you feel that a corset back isn’t for you, you can put in gussets instead.
To learn that technique, read this post on How To Put Gussets in a Dress or Top.