Thursday, April 8, 2010

Construction Of The Dress Shirring

Here are a few pictures with a bit of a description on what I did with the pattern to make it into a shirred dress.

First, I traced off the size bodice pieces I needed from the pattern. I drafted out the back side piece and brought the shoulder seam up to the true shoulder. By doing this, I now had one piece for the front bodice and one piece for the back bodice. I have used this technique for several outfits I have made with this pattern.

Next, I split the bodice front and back into two piece, horizontally. I did this right under the armscye. This allowed me to keep the fullness at the top at a much nicer fullness from the much needed fullness over the chest. I took the upper portion of the bodice pieces and moved them 2" back from the fold, giving a total of 4" for my gathering. I took the lower portion of the bodice front and the back and I moved them out to meet with the side seam of the skirt pattern piece, which was lined up on the fold of my fabric. I was working from a 2 to 1 ratio of fullness. That means I needed the fabric at the chest to be twice the width of Olivia's measurement, to work with the shirring. I used her chest measurement and made sure the front AND the back, both measured this amount. I think her chest is about 23 1/2", so the front, from the fold to the side seam was about 12 1/2", giving me a bit of room for seam allowance. The back was done the same way. I believe the skirt top piece was about that width, so it worked out perfectly!

**Side note* I did scoop out the front neckline, a wee bit deeper to give a bit more neck room....just a thing I have about the neckline feeling like it's going to choke me. I did that AFTER I took this picture.

Here is the front

Here is the back

This is essentially what the front and back looked like, one long piece of fabric:

I used the long sleeve pattern, but I shortened it and widened the bottom portion of where I cut it off, allowing for the fullness in the shirring.

I first stitched my front to back at the shoulder seams, then finished off the seam allowances. Make sure your serged edges are not serged together, or you will make it very difficult to get the elastic through the casing. ;) Next, I took my self bias binding and stitched it to the neckline preparing the casing for the elastic. I threaded my elastic through, but had not tied it off, not until I could test it on Olivia. You can wait to thread the elastic through, until you are done with your shirring.....I was just anxious to get a feel for what things were going to look like.

There are several tutorials on the internet on how to do shirring. Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for the results you are wanting and for your machine.

Next, I did my shirring. For my Pfaff machine, I used a 4 for stitch length and about a 5 for tension, this gave me quite the fullness. I tested the fullness on scrap fabric, first, to make sure it was what I wanted.

I did 7 rows of shirring, keeping them at 1/2" apart from one another. I did mark my first line of stitching, and after that, I used my markings on my plate and and pressure foot to keep it at the right place. As I stitched the 2nd-7th rows, I would stretch the fabric, carefully, as I sewed.

Here's my tip that I have not read anywhere when I was reading up on this process. I needed to make sure the fullness was not going to be too tight, or too loose, so I left my starting and ending threads long, allowing me the ability to manipulate the fullness, as needed. When I have done this lots more times, perhaps I will have a better grasp of how much fullness is happening with the fabric, but for now, I don't want to take chances, so this is how I did it. Once I had my fullness in place, I stitched in the seam allowance, many times, back and forth over each elastic thread. I was going to make sure it was secure and not going to come undone. I also used my serger to finish off the ends, so essentially I secured my ends, many times over, preventing the elastic thread from slipping out.

Here's what the dress was looking like once I have the front and back shirred and before I had the dress sewn together.

right Side Of Fabric

Underside Of Fabric

Next, I prepared my sleeves. First finish the hem of the sleeves. Then, do the shirring. I used three rows of shirring, a little bit closer together then 1/2", more like 1/4" apart. After that, I put in my gathering stitches for the sleeve cap. I gathered my sleeve, and inserted it flat, not in the round. Once it was in, then I stitched my side seams of the sleeve and dress all in one stitching.

The finished product:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.



Mama Sewing said...

Carol you put me to shame. The care and time you take to make each garment shows. I just am glad to take a pattern, cut and make it as directed and get an item finished!

Daphne said...

That is darling! Nice job :) and your little one is sweet.

Carol said...


The time it takes me to get some of these projects done is a LONG time. ;) I have to hope to complete it before she has a chance to out grow it. :)

By the way, how's your renovations going? I keep checking to see if you have any new pictures to show us! :D


Those are quite the babies you make, lovely work. Thanks for stopping by.

Sandi said...

Wow, this is a beautiful dress!! Our 5th daughter is going to be born soon and I would love to make this dress for each of them by this Fall. I feel so overwhelmed...reading the directions, it sounds so complex!! Where did you get the original pattern? I've never tried shirring but it looks like a lovely technique and worth learning. Thank you for inspiring me to strive for new heights in sewing!

Carol said...

Hi Sandi,

Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry I neglected to put the pattern information in this posting. I put it in the previous one, not this one. The pattern I used was the Girls’ Regency Dress Pattern from Sensibility: There is a forum for the web site and there are lots of discussions that take place on the various patterns and things people make with the patterns.

I have wanted to go back and do an update on just shirring, but have not had the time, sorry. If you have specific questions for me, please feel free to ask.

I could not find contact information for you from your blog, sorry about that.

Blessings to you,