As the weather is warming up, I'm pulling out some of my favorite warm weather patterns and Savannah is definitely one at the top of my list. I absolutely love the front ruffled bib bodice and cross over strap back.

Savannah has been super popular since its release last Spring, and has been sewn and shared in our Facebook group many, many times by our talented customers. We noticed several clever ladies hacked Savannah to have a closed back bodice, and not only were we smitten, but tons of you were too! The closed back bodice makes Savannah not only perfect for Spring and Summer, but also for other seasons and also school dress code compliant! 

In this blog post, I'm going to show you how to hack Savannah to have a full back bodice. Many, many thanks to all of you who posted your tips and tricks on this one in the big group; I read through all of them and incorporated lots of them into this blog post.

If you love the look of Savannah, but you've hesitated on adding Savannah to your library due to the open back, give this blog post a read, and you might just find it's exactly what you were looking for! Savannah is also on a weekend promo, so scoop it up at $6 while you can! Let's jump right in. 

We will be referencing the pattern back and forth here, so have your pattern handy.  Please download the new bodice pieces HERE.

1. To start, cut the front & back bodice & lining (with the new pattern pieces provided). Cut the ruffles as usual. Cut the bib as usual, but add 1/4" in height to the top of the shoulder. Cut two of the FRONT skirts. (We will be omitting the back skirt, as it is drafted for an elastic back, and cutting two front skirts instead.)

Design Tip: If you would like to make the back scoop a little bit lower, first cut the bodice back out as usual. Then lay the bodice back pattern piece on the bodice back just a little bit lower. Use the neckline of the pattern piece as a template and trace the lower neckline. Cut along the traced line.

Toss that extra little piece. Repeat with the lining pieces.  

2. Go back to the pattern, and complete steps #1-9 to create the ruffles and add them to the bib. Make sure to also leave the 1/2" unsewn at the top of the bib. There are a couple of ways to finish the ruffles. The ruffles can extend all the way down the back armhole, or stop shorter. It's up to you! I wanted mine to stop just a few inches past the shoulder seam, so I gathered my ruffles really tight. If you want your flutters to go all the way down the back armhole, you will gather them as directed in the pattern. 

3. Press the bib flat. Now lay it on top of the front bodice main, pin the bib to the front bodice main at the neckline so it doesn't shift. Do NOT attach the front lining at this step. 

4. Align the bib shoulder with the front bodice main shoulder, making sure to leave the seam allowance of the bib tucked under like shown in the photo. Make *sure* your ruffle is attached to the bib exactly 1/2" from the top, no more, no less. Any more and you will leave a hole in your finished product. Backtack to secure the ruffle exactly 1/2" if you need to. 

5. Lay the bodice back main on top of the front bodice main at the shoulder seam. Pin and sew with 1/2" seam allowance. (Ensure the back bodice is orientated the correct way. Especially if you did lower the scoop on the back, it's very easy to confuse the orientation of the bodice and accidentally switch them up.) 

6. Iron the shoulder seam allowance open flat. On the right side, stick a pin through the ruffle at the shoulder seam to mark the exact middle of it. 

7. Flip up the ruffle to see the pin on the underside of it. Using nice pointy scissors, snip 1/2" into the ruffle. This snip has to be exactly where the shoulder seam is on the other side. If you're using a basting stitch for your ruffle gathers, try to cut between the stitches so your gathering doesn't fall out completely. 

8. Push the seam allowance of the ruffle that is attached to the bib (this is the ruffle to the left of the snip), under the bib and pin to secure. The seam allowance of the other part of the ruffle (to the right of the snip) will be going the opposite way, towards the armhole. 

9. The ruffle will now lay flat and can be sewn into the armhole seam. Secure the bib to the front bodice by sewing just inside the bib/ruffle seam. Make sure to not sew onto the back bodice at all. 

Here is what it should look like now. And also what happens if you snip your gathering (basting) stitch, oops! 

10. Measure on your back bodice arm hole where you want your ruffles to end. I chose to do mine 1.25" above the scoop. This measurement is totally up to you and personal preference. Mark on both back bodice pieces so the ruffle will end at the same spot on both.

11. Pin the remaining ruffle to the back bodice arm holes. Baste in place with 1/4" seam allowance. 

12. Set the front and back bodice main (with the bib attached) aside for a moment. Place the front and back bodice lining pieces together with the right sides touching and shoulder seams lined up. Sew together at the shoulder seams. Iron the seam allowance open flat. Now, place the front and back bodice lining on top of the front and back bodice main with the right sides touching. Pin around the neckline and down the bodice back middle. Sew the pinned seams. 

13. Trim the seam allowance with pinking shears or cut triangles into the curves so they turn nicely and lay flat. Clip the top corners of the bodice back. 

14. Turn the bodice over so the right side is facing up. Slowly roll the ruffle until it's a tiny roll that will fit between the shoulder seams and pin in place. Once the ruffle has been rolled and pinned out of the way, lay the lining piece down over the main. 

15. Pin to secure around the entire armhole. Feel the seam with your fingers to make sure you haven't caught any of the ruffle in the seam. Sew the pinned seam with a 3/8" seam allowance. 

Remove the pins securing the ruffle. Working from the front of the bodice, lift the lining up and gently tug on the ruffle to turn the bodice right side out. I find it's easier than trying to push the bulk of the back bodice and ruffles thru that tiny little shoulder strap. Once I run out of ruffle, then I poke the back bodice thru with a chopstick. 

16. Iron the bodice nice and flat. Top stitch the neckline and down the bodice back center seams at this point if desired. I also extended my top stitching from the bib onto the back bodice about 1" just to make sure that snipped seam was nice and secure in there. 

17. Open up the side seams, lay them together and pin to secure & sew. Iron them open, and then lay them back down to finish the bodice. 

18. Take both front skirt pieces (which will serve as a front and a back), lay them with the right sides together, pin to secure, and sew up the side seams. Serge to finish, if you can, or finish with a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine.

19. Find the top middle of the back skirt piece and cut a 3" slit down the back for the placket. You will also need a piece of fabric cut on the bias for your placket. I used a 3"x9" piece, which will be plenty for all sizes. Just cut off the extra that extends past the top when you're done. 

For instructions on how to attach the placket fabric to this slit, please refer to this video: How to Sew a Skirt Placket

Designer Top: One little thing I like doing on my plackets once they're in, is to sew a slanted seam at the bottom just to secure it so it doesn't flop open. 

20. While attaching the skirt to the bodice, pin the front ruffles up and out of the way. Gather the skirt to fit the bodice. Use 2 rows of gathering stitches, one at 1/4" from the top raw edge and one 3/8" from the top raw edge. Pin the skirt and bodice together with the right sides touching. Line up the side seams and make sure the placket is straight and will nicely close once it's all sewn together. 

21. Go ahead and attach your buttons now, or you can also use kam snaps :) 

22. You will then jump back to the pattern to step #37, for instructions on hemming. And you're done! I hope you enjoyed this little hack for a fun new twist on the Savannah pattern. I can't wait to see all the beautiful dresses you post in the main group!

Happy sewing! 


April 28, 2019 by Ashley Brostrom