Making a Dress from Pre-shirred Fabric

Last summer shirred dresses took the sewing world by storm. I attempted to shirr my own fabric, but my BabyLock Presto II is so well-behaved that it wouldn’t put enough tension on the elastic thread in the bobbin to shirr the fabric. I made a different dress (which I will post about soon), but it didn’t quite scratch the itch for a shirred dress.

A few weeks ago I was at JoAnn’s and noticed a selection of pre-shirred rayon fabrics. I liked these two the most, and decided to go with the green.

I washed my fabric and let it air dry (Rayon is delicate and I didn’t want to risk damaging my fabric before I even got to sew it up or wear it). I had found a tutorial online that said to cut the fabric to 3” less than the high-bust measurement. I cut my fabric to 32”, but I could have cut it several inches smaller for a snugger fit in the bodice.

I used my new-to-me serger to finish the raw edges, and then sewed the one seam in the dress. I decided to put this seam on the side rather than in the back of the dress. I tried on the dress at this stage and realized it was loose enough that it wouldn’t reliably stay up on its own. Instead of taking out the seam and making the dress smaller (I didn’t want to lose any volume in the skirt) I decided to make some straps.

I hemmed the dress before I made the straps. The full width of the fabric made the dress 7” too long for me. I wanted a deep hem, but not quite that deep, so I cut 3” off, folded and ironed the remaining hem allowance down by 1/2” and then again by 3 1/2” and sewed the hem down.

I wanted the straps to be about an inch wide and 12-15” long, and the strip I had cut off the hem was the perfect size for this. I folded the strip in half and sewed it with a 1/2” seam allowance, then trimmed the seam allowance down, turned it right-side-out, and pressed it with the seam to the center of the strap. Next I cut the one long strap in quarters and hemmed one end of each strap. Finally, I pinned the straps on my dress and sewed them down right on top of the shirring for a nearly invisible finish. The dress was done.

Despite the fact that the fit of the bodice is a little looser than I expected, I really like how this summery dress came out. I do really love how the ties add to the overall look of the dress. This is one instance where fashion and function align.

But I had a problem. There was a small piece of fabric left, and I didn’t want to throw it away or let it sit in my stash as a scrap. It was the full width of the fabric (60”), so I decided to make it into a summer scarf. I removed the shirring stitches on the one end, ironed it, then trimmed it to a more or less rectangular shape. I hemmed the two long edges with a very narrow rolled hem, and pleated some lace scraps to fit the two short ends.

I didn’t know I needed a summer scarf in my life, but I LOVE how this came out!

One more thing: you might have noticed this incredible artwork on my shoulder. I got my first tattoo this past winter, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out.