Sewing a shirred sundress is very easy, I swear!!!! It looks complicated than the actual work, don’t let it frighten you off. If you haven’t tried one, you should try soon after reading this how-to. This summer dress is also a quick sewing project, I completed it in less than 2 hours, a great project when your loved one is taking her nap.
The fabric I sewed is knit or poly- jersey, it is stretchy like a T-shirt, but you can use just any lightweight cotton fabrics to achieve the same result. Thick fabric like denim is not suitable for shirring, the elastic thread just can’t get the gathers to come close to each other.
Wonder where is this place? I brought my daughter to the beautiful and famous beach in Penang, Batu Ferringhi, for these photos shots. The weather is good and sunny, the sea is clear, the sands are golden and the air is breezy. We blew bubbles and it was a pleasant moment just me with my daughter 🙂 At the end of the photography session, we picked some shells (see picture 4) and we are going to make something nice out of them!!!!
Shirred Sundress Sewing Pattern
1. Fabric (lightweight, eg. quilting fabric or knit jersey that I used), the quantity depends on what size you are making. Most cases, 1 yard should be sufficient.
2. Elastic thread
3. 1/4″ Elastic band
5. Matching thread
1. Sewing machine with general-purpose foot
2. Small safety pin
3. Sewing kits
1. Measure the chest of the girl (C), and the length from armpit until your preferred length (L). Refer diagram & instruction below for detail.
2. Measure straps length, from front to back (over the shoulder) at the armpit level.
Straps: Cut 2 pieces of about 1 1/2″ wide x 12″ length fabrics. You need a shorter length for babies and longer for adult, measure the length of the intended wearer if possible, but as a safety factor, it is better to allow more so that you can cut if it is too long.
Fold the fabric of the straps with right side facing each other, sew with 1/4″ seam allowance, turn, press, and topstitch near the edge. Repeat the same for the other.
Use the diagram on the left, determine the width and length of the fabric required. Add 1/2″ for seam allowance for side, 1″ for the top hem and 2″ for the bottom hem. The numbers in the brackets are the sizes I used for my daughter who is 7-year-old.
Cut fabric, double-fold the top hem of about 3/4″ width, press and pin to secure. Topstitch near to the edge and about 1/2″ from the edge. This is the pocket or casing for the elastic band.
Note: This pattern is a tight fit to the kid chest if you would like to have a loose fit, change the width to “2 x chest” or the widest width you can get from the fabric.
When we shirr a piece of cloth or fabric, the elastic thread always comes from the bobbin side.
Hand wind the elastic thread onto the bobbin, don’t stretch the thread, a relax tension will give you a better result.
A roll of bobbin is enough for a girl’s shirred sundress. If yours ran out before finished shirring, just remove the bobbin and wind again. Sew a continuous elastic thread on a row for a neater look and better gathers.
Place the bobbin into the sewing machine. Thread a matching sewing thread on the top.
Turn the upper tension to the maximum loose but maintain the normal stitch spacing that you used to sew for straight line stitches.
Test run on a fabric scrap and check for the tension. Adjust the tension if needed.
When you are ready, go for real sewing.
This is how the wrong side looks like after the following is done.
Starting with some back stitches, sew 5 rows of elastic shirrs with 1/4″ interval between each row. End each row with some back stitches to secure the elastic thread in place.
Cut a length of 1/4″ elastic band slightly longer than the shirred width. Pin one end with a safety pin, slide it through the top hem pocket or casing until it comes out to the other end. Stitch at the seam line to secure the band.
Sew the side, serge or zig-zag the raw edges if needed.
Double-fold the bottom hem for about 1″, press and pin, double stitch.
Attached the straps. Tie 2 ribbons and sew it to the front, just below the straps (with the ribbons, now you know where is the front side of the shirred sundress!!!)
Easy! Isn’t it?