Picture of How to Make a Shirred Fabric Summer Dress
This week a special SewingTips 101 will show you how to shirr fabric and create a cool new summer dress. So check out the videocheck out the video and get to work on some easy breezy summer clothes! For more DIY projects, subscribe to Threadbanger on iTunes!

For this project you will need:

Elastic thread
Regular Thread
A Sewing Machine
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Step 1: Test it Out

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For this dress you'll need to buy elastic thread and hand wind the elastic thread around the bobbin. Then put the bobbin in the machine and, using regular thread for the top, set your machine to a straight stitch with the longest length possible.I suggest first using a test strip for trying out shirring before you start on the actual garment. Make sure you lock your stitches and if the first row works, then create a few more rows at about half an inch apart. Use your presser foot as a guide.

Step 2: Make the Dress

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Make a very simple rectangle pattern using the bust width and any desired length. Corinne measured from her armpit to two inches above the knee. Then iron the fabric and align your pattern to be parallel with crosswise grain of you fabric. Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut out the fabric. Repeat so you have two pieces. Place the front sides together and pin down one side. Using regular thread in the bobbin and a shorter stitch length, sew down the pinned side. Press your seam and sew down both sides of the seam. Next add a hem to the top and bottom of the garment.

angelkat804 years ago
does anyone know how to attach pre shirred and non shirred fabric together?  im making a long dress with a shirred top, but the bottom is out of a different fabric.  any tips would be greatly appreciated.

This is probably too late but... Have you ever made a ruffle? (If you haven't you can make a ruffle by basting 2 lines of stitching at the top of the bottom fabric without backstitching the ends; the way to ruffle it is pulling the threads on each end and moving the ruffle along the fabric) If you choose to so it this way you will want to have the shirred piece right side out and the ruffle wrong side out, match the bottom of the shirred with the top edge of the ruffle and sew along the baste lines (after the ruffle is as tight as it needs to be. I would suggest using the elastic thread bobbin for this) When the ruffle is attached it will fold downward over the edge of the seam.

I've only stitched shirred fabric to shirred fabric, so this may not be helpful, however, I just used an ordinary straight stitch. My method would probably work as long as you weren't trying to get the non shirred fabric to stretch as well. Then, you might try to stretch the shirred fabric to match the length of the other fabric, but I would think that to be very tedious, and ineffective.
twinkie9252 years ago
Please forgive my ignorance because I am very, very new at sewing, but I'm curious is the bust measurement all the way around the body or just from armpit to armpit?
1samna twinkie92510 months ago

as a large busted woman I would say depends on if you are large or small on top...personally, I would measure arm pit to arm pit for front & back ...then go from there.

lindsaylep3 years ago
A friend is giving me sewing lessons & I just attempted to make this, as my FIRST ever project completely by myself. And it actually turned out okay! There are some things I should have done a little differently, or paid attention to more, as I was doing it. But I'm just so proud of myself! Thanks for making such a great instructable of such a cute dress! I may be heading to the fabric store later today to buy more fabric & make another one ... this time not committing the same errors! Thanks again! Love it!
lov2bead534 years ago
Now this is cute, fun and great instructions. My mom didn't sew so I grew up not knowing how. I love this kind of project. Thanks so much.
blueprairie6 years ago
For a slightly dressier vintage option, please check out my blog for a photo and link to instructions for a 1950's shirred summer dress (with white gloves and purse, if you please...)
holy guacamole that is cool.
I made an ankle length dress using this Instructable and it turned out PERFECT!!! Let me add that it was my first time ever experimenting with elastic thread -I used less than favorable double-knit stretch AND bought 2 extra packages of the elastic thread since I knew my first go with it was 'practice'. Well, I've worn this 'practice' dress about 4 times in the last 2 months and I get wonderful compliments on it every single time. Thank you Threadbanger! :)
Ragdoll2025 years ago
I'm having the opposite problem. My elastic thread keeps bunching and curving, rather than the straight threads I see sewn in the pictures.Love this dress, but I'm having troubles sewing it. Any advice?
KreaKatri5 years ago
I'm not sure I understand how wide the fabric is. Are you actually using two pieces that are both long enough to go all the way around you bust?
hall9346 years ago
how much fabric do you get
Can't wait to try!
sumrandom16 years ago
this is very nice, i had no idea what to give to my gf for her birthday, and since she is going away for a few months to a tropical warm climate, this is perfect, thank you for the post, very easy step by step and the video is even better
kskitt6 years ago
ok my machiene does not allow me to put elastic thread in the bobbin and then through to the top of the machiene. What are my options?
hypercube336 years ago
How do you lock your thread? Our sewing machines never had that button of magic!
The way to lock your stitch is to sew forward, then stop. Sew in reverse over top of your previous stitch and stop. Sew forward again. You can repeat that, but I only do it once or twice so the stitch still looks neat on the finished piece. If you don't know how to sew in reverse on your machine, just refer to the manual. My machine (it's a very basic Brother ) has a little switch on the front right side that you must hold down in order to sew in reverse, then let it go and it will sew forward again.
wocket6 years ago
I've tried this but the elastic is always to tight. What am i doing wrong?
threadbanger (author)  wocket6 years ago
Try lengthening the stitches
andrea07016 years ago
this is too cute!