Pattern Hack: Add a button back to Free Spirit.

Make your tie back dress button. Learn how to hack the Free Spirit pattern and button up the back.

A lot of people have asked if they can make Free Spirit without the back keyhole.  The good news is that you can!  The bad news (or maybe it’s also good news?) is that it requires a teeny tiny bit of pattern hacking.  But it’s really simple, I promise!

If all you want to do is eliminate the keyhole, you’ll also need to be sure your model can get it off and on, so you’ll want to add a back button or zipper.  Just like with adding a button front to Love Pattern #9 (learn how here) it’s one quick, easy measurement.

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Measure over 1″ (1/2″ for a zipper) from the back center and draw a new cut line eliminating the keyhole.  Follow the instructions from Every Which Way/Petit Four or any basic button/zip back bodice to sew it up.  The best part is that you don’t even need a skirt placket.

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What if you want to keep the keyhole?  After drawing in your new cutline, just continue the the keyhole opening straight across like this.  You can do a button top and a zipper bottom for a really cute look like Annie’s.


While we are here modifying and doing button backs, I’m going to show you how to reduce the wearing ease.  Because it’s a pullover and a dolman, Free Spirit has a lot of ease, but if you’re going through the trouble to add a button back, why not make it a slimmer fit while you’re at it?

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Draw a line down from the shoulder to the waist,  Anywhere is fine.

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Cut the pattern along the line to make two pieces.

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Now that you have two pieces, place them back together, overlapping by 1/4″.  (Repeat for other bodice piece).  The 1/4″ overlap will reduce the overall ease by 1″.  You can choose to do a bit more or less depending on your desired fit, but since it is a dolman, I wouldn’t recommend reducing it more than 1.5 (3/8″ per pattern piece)” total or the sleeves will pinch.

With the reduced ease, you’ll want to also add a skirt placket to make sure your little one can get it on.  It’s such a fun pattern to play with.  I hope you’ll share what you make with us in the facebook group (here).


Annie also chose to piece the front which you can learn to do in this post (here).  Free Spirit is even simpler, though.  You can just cut straight down and add seam allowance!


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