Summertime, and the living is eeeeeaaasy... actually no - it's already darn hot, so what better time to do a shirred dress tutorial for you all than now, hey? This dress is super simple to whip up. You won't even need a pattern, just a measuring tape and some lovely fabric. So let's get measuring, and get ready to sew!
Things you will need:
Fabric of your choice (I suggest a lightweight cotton, as you don't want anything too heavy for a shirred dress)
1cm wide elastic
For the record, I used a Liberty Tana Lawn from Tessuti Fabrics that I had hiding away in my stash.
Firstly you need to measure how much fabric you will need. I measured around Grumble's torso, and then multiplied that measurement by two plus seam allowances to get the total width of the dress. The shirred part will stretch over to fit the bust nicely, without feeling too tight.
Here are the standard torso measurements for children, based on Australian Standards:
Size Age Height Chest
2 2 - 3 years 92cm 56cm
3 3 - 4 years 100cm 58cm
4 4 - 5 years 108cm 60cm
5 5 - 6 years 115cm 62cm
6 6 - 7 years 120cm 64cm
7 7 - 8 years 125cm 66cm
8 8 - 9 years 130 - 140cm 68cm
10 10 - 11 years 140 - 150cm 74 - 80cm
11 11 - 12 years 150 - 160cm 80 - 86cm
12 12 - 13 years 155 - 160cm 86 - 90cm
13 13 - 14 years 160 - 165cm 90 - 95cm
14 14 - 15 years 165 - 170cm 95 - 100cm
Or, if you decide you'd rather make a shirred dress for yourself, here are the standard women's measurements, based on Australian Standards:
Size Bust Waist Hip
XS 75 - 80cm 56 - 61cm 84 - 88cm
S 82 - 87cm 61 - 66cm 88 - 93cm
M 92 - 97cm 71 - 76cm 98 - 103cm
L 102 - 109cm 81 - 88cm 108 - 115cm
XL 115 - 121cm 94 - 100cm 121 - 127cm
Firstly you'll need to figure out your torso measurement, and then double that, then add seam allowances. For example, Grumbles had a torso measurement of 68cm. Multiplying that by two gives you 136cm. Adding seam allowances of 2cm to each side makes it 140cm. You'll be cutting out a front and a back, so divide that figure by two to get the width of each piece. In this case it is 70cm.
I decided that I wanted the dress to be mid-calf in length, so measured Grumbles once more. The resulting measurement was 65cm, from top of bust line to mid-calf. Adding 5cm for seam and casing allowances gave me a final figure of 70cm.
So my final pattern piece for both front and back was 70cm wide and 70cm long. Once you've figured yours out, cut two of these.
Hooray! The maths part is over. Let's move on to some actual sewing!
Once you have cut out your pattern pieces, overlock or finish all edges.
Sew one side seam together, leaving the other side seam open.
Create the casing for the elastic. On the wrong side turn over the overlocked edge and press, then turn over again to create a 1.3cm wide casing. Press. Stitch the casing close to the edge. Oh, and try not to laugh at my daggy ironing board.
Before you begin to shirr, you'll need to have changed your normal bobbin for one that has been tightly wound with elastic thread. If the elastic thread isn't tightly wound onto the bobbin, then the elasticised effect will not occur. It's easiest to do this by hand, stretching tight the thread as you wind it onto the bobbin.
Now let the shirring begin! On the right side stitch a foot width away from the casing stitching. As you sew the elastic will cause the shirred part to bunch up behind your machine foot. It's pretty exciting!
Repeat the shirring a foot width away until you have done 10 rows, or until you have shirred for your desired amount. If you are large busted you may want to shirr more than 10, or if you are making it for a very young child you may want to shirr for less than 10 rows. Figure out what you'll be most comfortable with, and go from there.
You will probably need to re-wind your bobbin with more elastic thread every few rows. As you shirr, straighten out the fabric - it helps you keep a straight line.
Once the shirring has been completed, insert the desired length of 1cm wide elastic (measure it around the torso to see what length feels comfortable) into the casing at the top of the dress, tacking it to each end to keep it in place.
Then with right sides facing sew your other side seam together. I like to sew over the shirred part twice, just to reinforce the elastic thread. We don't want any of them wriggling loose now!
Then hem the bottom of the dress.
Measure out how long your shoulder straps will be, then cut a two 3cm strips of fabric this length. Folding the strips in two with right sides together, sew close to the edge of the strap. Trim seam allowances, then inside-out the strips. Attach the shoulder straps to the inside of the back and the front of the dress in your desired position. I find with Grumbles that the straps don't slip off her shoulders so much if I cross them over at the back.
Now pat yourself on the back and do a happy dance - you've completed a shirred dress!