Open Back Tied Bow Summer Dress

This tutorial shows you how this beautiful summer dress was made. Conte de Fees patterns are available on and Etsy.


  • All seam allowances are 1cm unless otherwise stated.
  • Pre-shrink machine washable fabrics: wash, dry and iron fabrics before sewing.

1. Creating the shoulder straps.

Cut two pieces of rectangles measuring 3.2cm in width and 30cm in length from the main fabric. Fold the long edges of one piece toward the long centre line, and fold again along the long centre line to form the strap. Sew close along the long edge. Iron flat and repeat with the other piece.

2. Attaching should straps. Place the shoulder straps to the centre of the top corners of the bodice main fabric (with the right side of the bodice facing up), making sure that they mirror each other. Baste with 0.8cm seam allowance to secure them in place.

3. Armhole and Neckline.

Place the bodice lining on top of the bodice main with the right sides touching and the raw edges lining up. Pin and sew along the armhole and necklines. Clip the seam allowance close to the stitch line all along. Turn it to the right side and iron flat.

4. The back sashes.

Cut two mirrored pairs of back sash pieces.

Place one pair of the sashes with the right sides touching. Pin and sew along the edges as shown in the picture, leaving a 6cm’s gap around 8cm from the raw open edge on the longest edge. Turn to the right side and iron flat. Repeat with the other pair.

5. The elastic casing.

Fold the elastic casing piece lengthwise with the wrong sides touching and the raw edges lining up. Sew along the long raw edge.

6. Creating the skirt.

Place the two skirt pieces together with the right sides touching and raw edges lining up. Sew together along both short side seams. Finish the seam with an overlocker. Iron the seams flat.

Hem the bottom raw edge of the skirt: turn the raw edge 1cm up and iron. Then turn up another 1cm and iron. Sew closely along the folded edge.

(Optional: for extra tulle layers, cut the tulle fabric with the same measurement as the skirt piece and repeat the same steps above except the hemming – there is no need to hem the tulle. Then baste it along the waist to the skirt main fabric.)

On the back of the skirt (right side up), measure 4cm on both sides, mark with pins, and place the elastic casing between the marks along the waist line with the raw edges lining up. Pin and sew the casing to the skirt. (Note: do not sew into the 1cm seam allowance on both side of the casing.)

Thread the elastic through casing and baste it on both ends with 0.8cm seam allowance to secure it.

7. Attaching the sash and skirt.

Lay the bodice flat with the main separated from the lining and the right side facing up. Place one sash piece with the long edge above and the raw edge aligned with one side seam of the bodice. Fold down the bodice lining so that the sash is sandwiched in between. Pin and sew the sash in place.

Now sandwich one end of the elastic waistband right below the sash. Pin and sew it in place between the bodice main and lining.

Repeat with the other side of the bodice, sash and waistband. Turn the dress right side out. Iron flat.

8. Gathering and attaching the remaining skirt.

Sew one or two gathering stitches along the remaining raw edge of the skirt. Gather the skirt to the same length as the remaining waistline of the bodice.

With the right sides touching, pin the bodice and gathered skirt with their raw edges lining up. Sew along the line and finish with an overlocker.

9. Fixing the straps.

Put the dress on the girl or mannequin to decide the length and position of the shoulder strap. Mark the suitable length on the strap and the position on the sash, and trim off the excessive length of the strap. (You only need to do one side, take the measurement and copy the marks to the other side.)

Pin the strap into place (inserted in the gap you left on the sash before), finish the sash either with ladder stitch by hand, or topstitch all around the edge of the sashes.

10. Flowers (optional)

I used some scrap fabric to make some fabric flowers – they can be put on the dress as embellishment or made into matching hairpieces. I used the method in this YouTube tutorial ( ) and it is really simply to make.

Congratulations – now the dress is finished!

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