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Sew a Back-Wrap Dress with a Triangular Envelope Collar

Add an intriguing back flap to a sheath
Threads #197, June/July 2018
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Look great as you leave the room. Design and sew a back-wrap dress with a triangular collar that evokes an envelope’s flap. Pattern: McCall’s 7283, modified. Fabrics: cotton sateen, CuttingLineDesigns.com.

I recently saw a wedding dress that had an unexpected and attractive back detail. The dress was a back-wrap style, featuring a faced, asymmetrical triangular envelope collar. This neckline created a flattering line and an opportunity to display a beautiful contrasting fabric. In my version, I added simple ties to define the waist. 

To replicate this design, start with any princess-seamed sheath pattern that has a center-back zipper.  

Once you’ve adapted the pattern, you can make countless looks: Choose solid fabrics in subtle contrasting tones, prints, or high-contrast color blocking. The dress would be stunning in black with a sheer black collar and ties or with a crisp white collar. A wool crepe version worn as a jumper could make a unique office look. Enjoy the versatility. 

Change the neckline

This dress has a wide bateau neckline in front and a surplice-style V-neckline in back. 

 1- Adjust the front neckline to a bateau neckline. Narrow the shoulder seam to the width of a strap, about 2 inches, and redraw the neckline. Add a seam allowance.

Graphic illustration of a new front neckline.

2- Begin revising the center-back pattern. Place the half-pattern on a sheet of folded pattern paper, with its seamline along the fold. If the seam includes shaping, align the neckline edge with the fold and let the curves overhang slightly. Cut a new center-back pattern on a fold so it is one piece. Duplicate to create two full center-back patterns.

Graphic illustration of how to revise the center back pattern.

3- Alter the back right side. Narrow the shoulder so it matches the front shoulder. On one pattern, draw a diagonal line from the right shoulder seamline at the neck edge to the left waistline. Add a seam allowance along the line and label the pattern “Right center back.”

Graphic illustration of how to alter the back right side.

4- Alter the back left side. On the remaining pattern, draw a corresponding diagonal line from the…

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