Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Way back in July I posted about the book Weekend Sewing and showed a few projects I liked. One was a photo of a sewing space inside a wardrobe, which inspired me to start work on my fabric storage cupboard shortly afterwards. Check. I also liked the All-weekend sundress, and found the fabric I wanted to use in an op-shop in Tauranga that same month. Now, about 6 months later, I can check that one off my list too! This is the image in the book:

And this is me in mine, squinting into the sun and being helped by the fresh northerly:

Close-up of the beautiful fabric:
As you can see, it's more of a maxi-dress than a sundress. I added a few more centimetres to the bottom and really love the length. Other adjustments were adding a lining because of the sheer fabric I used, and doubling the shirring at the top.

The pieces for this dress had been sitting in my workroom for about a month, and I was a bit scared to proceed. All that lining (never done that before), shirring (same) and gathering (so boring) intimidated me and I didn't want to waste all that lovely fabric if it didn't work out...

Things came to a head last week when I started gathering and realised it was actually quite painless. For the lining, I just made a second dress in a very light fabric, then pinned and overlocked it all together at the top. Now I had no excuse and had to tackle the shirring. Thanks to Melissa's timely post on shirring, I had it. She hand-winds the shirring elastic around the bobbin, pulling it tightly. I've read other tutorials that warn not to pull the elastic when winding and then to either spray with water or steam-iron, but this was the one that worked for me. Here you can see the shirred waist from the inside:

To finish the lining, I just folded and topstitched the overlocked top edge to the inside and shirred the two dresses together at the top and waist. I am so happy with my dress; it's very comfortable and easy to wear.

I'm not finished with shirring though, as you will see in my next posts. I've made a little girl's dress and am hoping to make myself a quick top sometime this week. See you later!


Becky said...

Beautiful dress! I love the Maxi dresses, they are very flattering and comfty too. I am in awe of your shirring, I have plans to try this one day!
I really won't to make a dress for little Daughter next too.

melissa said...

wow, heleen! that is one gorgeous dress... and you look beautiful in it.
that's funny that some instructions say not to pull the elastic thread tightly... i couldn't seem to make it work like that. never mind!

Jacqui said...

I think the varying instructions for shirring was one reason I was so reluctant to try it! I made a top for Hazel from Ottobre eventually and it turned out to be very simple. Their instructions said to stretch very slightly as you wound it on and it worked on my machine fine. That's probably it though isn't it, what works for your machine. I know some of the newer ones won't shirr at all because of their tension controls so perhaps simpler is better sometimes! Well actually it often is :) Well done on the dress though, I haven't been brave enough to try a Maxi for fear it'll make me look...maxi. ;)

Cotton Kiwi said...

That's gorgeous Heleen! So hard to pluck up the courage to try shirring but so easy once you get the hang of it. Love your dress.

Ruby in the Dust said...

yes, it seems the thought of shirring is harder than actually doing it. Jacqui, I think you're right about the difference between machines. I also wonder whether different types of elastic might react differently. I found a post that touches on the issue of shirring with new machines: http://www.prudentbaby.com/2010/03/sweet-shirred-summer-dress-pattern.html

nzgreenbuttons said...

What a lovely summer dress! It suits you and this weather, beautiful fabric too. What a great find.

greta @ topography said...

My sister has that book, I love it, and your dress is divine, well done!

Nonavee Dale said...

I want to shirr!