06 August 2010

Pattern-Free Shirred Sundress Tutorial

Here's a pattern-less tutorial for the two sundresses I made recently. 

The dress is composed of three rectangular parts:
1.  The straps
2.  The bodice
3.  The skirt

(The photo above shows both my bodice and skirt already folded in half and sewn up at the side seams)

1.  Make four simple tie straps.
2.  Cut your bodice about 4 inches wider than your child's chest measurement and long enough to reach from chest to waist (plus a little for hemming).
3.  My skirt is made of several panels of fabric all sewn together, just for fun.  It's wider than the bodice and about waist-to-knee-length for my child.
*Note that the bodice is not as wide as the skirt.*  If you make the bodice too wide, the shirring won't gather it tightly enough to fit against the chest. 

4.  Fold the top edge under and stitch in place then attach your straps to the inside of the bodice. 

5.  Gather the top of the skirt so it is the same width as the bottom of the bodice.  (I've finished both raw edges ahead of time.  Of course you can do this now, or later).

6.  Sew the skirt to the bodice.  See how the bodice looks way too loose for your child?

7.  Do several rows of shirring.  (If you're not familiar with shirring, it's simply elastic thread in your bobbin instead of regular thread.  Google it.  Super simple.)

I did nearly 20 rows of shirring.  Wow, that really shrunk the top!

8.  Hem your skirt.  I added some pretty ribbon.

On this dress, I did only nine rows of shirring so the top didn't shrink up as much.
Easy huh?  If you make one, don't forget to show it off on my Sewing Dork Showcase Flickr page. 
(Just because some of you often ask, the white fabric with the script on it is from Ikea, the black fabric is a Japanese linen which I bought online, and the teal print is Marcus Collection from Fabricland.  The yellow and black print dress fabric is also from Fabricland). 


LB3K said...

You DO have some awesome fabric-- usually that I don't recognize. I would love to 'shop' in your fabric stash!

Chartreuse Moose said...

Great idea! I hadn't even thought about this type of sundress for dd! Cute...and easy!

Karin van D. said...

I love sundresses like these. And now I think about it, this year Sarah doesn't even have a dress like these. Hmm, the weather here looks less hot already, but since I insist that summer isn't over yet, I might make her one, just for the last couple of weeks. I bet she'd love that!

Yours are lovely. I really like the fabrics you used, cute!

ckh said...

That's what I get for thinking I know anything about sewing at all! I learn that shirred sundresses don't come from the bolt of already-been-shirred material.

I'm so in awe of the possibilities!

Anonymous said...


Melissa said...

This is a great tute. I love patternless anything lol. Would you mind adding it to My Crafty Weekend linkup this afternoon?

Casey said...

I saw an etsy store that was selling upcycled t-shirts that had the top's cut and then they shirred the tops and put straps on them for 38 bucks. I remembered you'd posted about shirring and doing a dress so I looked this up, I can use one of my husband's old shirts to test on and save myself 38 bucks. YAY.

cucicucicoo said...

this is gorgeous and looks so easy! i love how you use patchwork and different fabrics for your projects. it really gives them a lot of life! :) lisa