Pattern Modification: Elastic Back Coffee Shop Lace Dress

Do you love the look of the Coffee Shop Lace Dress by Bella Sunshine Designs? Does your child dislike requiring assistance to dress herself? This tutorial for how to modify the back to have elastic in order to pull over the head rather than have buttons may be just what you’re looking for.

This pattern is on sale today only for Kids Clothing Week! Head on over to get it for just $5USD. No coupon code necessary. (Gabriella’s Winter Coat is also on sale today.) Sale extended through August 9th. The Rose Bubble Shorts and Vintage Grace Flutter Dress are also on sake now.

Bonus: Elastics are more comfortable on the back when they’re leaning back against their seat.

Tutorial for Coffee Shop Lace Dress by Bella Sunshine Designs with elastic back modification.

A couple of details about the Coffee Shop Lace Dress before we move on to the tutorial:

  • It has a wide range of sizes going from 12m to 12 years. The upper sizes are not designed for a developing bust.
  • It includes two sleeve lengths (short and long) which makes it ideal for school.
  • The pattern utilizes Adobe’s “layer” feature which means you can print just the size(s) that you want!
  • The instructions are very detailed and the finishing techniques are professional. Your garment will look as pretty on the inside as it does on the outside.

From the listing:

This dress is designed for that vintage lace you have been hoarding for the perfect project. You know, the pretty stuff that you’ve been holding back for something special. The front bodice features beautiful lace detailing to show off your pretties while the center modesty panel is perfect for a contrasting fabric. The slightly gathered sleeves make this dress perfect for school or church. The back bodice buttons up and includes a skirt placket for ease of dressing for your wiggly child. The lace on the hem of the skirt gives this dress that finishing touch. If you are all out of lace or are looking for a less complicated design, you can also omit the lace for a different look. Plus, since this pattern includes options for both short and long sleeves, it’s perfect for any season.

Sewing Level: Intermediate

Sizes: 12 Months to Girls 12

*This tutorial involves modifying only the BACK piece of the pattern. I am working with a blended pattern piece of size 12m width and size 2 length.*

For this modification you will need:

  • 1/4″ knit elastic
  • extra paper
  • your back pattern piece
  • a bodkin or safety pin (I highly recommend getting a bodkin. Life changing!)
  • a ruler
  • a calculator

Print and cut all pattern pieces as directed in the instructions except for the skirt placket and interfacing for the button placket. We will not be needing those. Set all the pieces aside except for your back pattern piece. We will be working on modifying the piece now.

Measure the width of your back pattern piece at the bottom. Mine is 6.5″ wide. Take that number and multiply it by 0.25. Round the result to the nearest half inch. This is how much width you will be adding to your pattern piece. My resulting measurement is 1.5″. Add a piece of paper to your pattern piece at the side with the button markings and cut this additional width. *Do NOT add your width on the side of the piece where the armscye is.*

Added Piece

Measure your pattern piece from the “Centre Back” line to the corner where the shoulder piece begins. My measurement is 2.25″. Add 5/8″ to this measurement* and multiply it by 2. This is your elastic measurement. My elastics will be 5.75″ long.

*The additional 5/8″ is to account for the seam allowance in the pattern and the seam allowance for tacking down the elastic.

Centre Back to Shoulder Measurement

Cut 5 pieces of elastic.


Using your modified back bodice piece, place the new edge on the fold and cut out one main and one lining. Sew the front bodice pieces as directed in the pattern. Place your back bodice main and your front bodice main right sides together and sew the shoulders. Repeat for lining pieces. Treat as one main piece and one lining piece from here on out.

Cut on the Fold

Opened Back Bodice Piece

Place your main bodice and lining bodice right sides together and pin around the neck. Sew all the way around.

Pinned Neck Hole

Snip triangles into the corners without cutting through your stitching then pull the lining through the neck hole. Press. Edge stitch 1/8″ around the shoulders and front of the neck hole. EXCLUDE the back.

Snipped Neck Hole

Working on the back side of the bodice. Mark a straight line perpendicular to the bottom of the bodice that hits the corner of the back. Do the same for the opposite corner. Make 5 marks on each of these lines using the button hole marks from the pattern. Draw lines straight across horizontally joining the marks.

Bottom Lines of Casings

Draw another set of marks 3/8″ above each of the lines in the previous step and join them with lines. The top line from the previous step should not have another line drawn above it. The top of the bodice should be there.

All Casing Lines

Stitch along the horizontal lines ONLY. These will form the casings for your elastic.

Attach the sleeves to the main bodice piece as directed in the pattern and sew up the sides of the main fabric. Sew the sides of the lining together too. Arrange right side out.

Fold the bottom of the bodice main and lining each 3/8″ towards the wrong side and iron a crease. Unfold.

Skipping the placket steps as they are no longer necessary, quarter, gather, and attach your skirt to the main bodice using the crease from the previous step as a guide.

Using your bodkin or safety pin, thread an elastic between the layers and through the top casing. Allow the ends to hang 1/4″ past your vertical lines and sew it in place along the vertical lines using a triple stitch.

Elastic in Top Casing

Repeat for each of the remaining 4 elastics and casings.

Finish as directed in the pattern.

Flat Shot Front of DressFlat Shot Back of Dress

Congratulations! You now have a Coffee Shop Lace Dress that can be pulled over the head!

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers.


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