Welcome back to our short series on Summer Dresses!
In the light of all the shirring-from-scratch in the last post,
I thought we'd begin today's with a public confession (ulp!):
I buy pre-shirred fabric.
Anyone click "unsubscribe" on their aggregators yet?
No? OK, I'll push my luck a bit.
Here comes public confession #2:
Oh well. Truth is out.
Sometimes when they are on off-season clearance, I tell
myself, "It's only a yard. Costs less than a box of cheerios.
Which is in the same shopping cart, bizarrely enough.
Which isn't really a sin. The print isn't blindingly hideous.
And the elastic stitching is all chain-stitched, unlike my
sewing-machine's straight shirring stitch at home.
So it must be stronger, eh?"
So, multiple rationalizations and a single straight seam
later, my child has a new tube dress.
This is not a recent one-off momentary lapse in reason,
Jesting aside, I will say this in defence of other fellow
underground pre-shirred-fabric fans: if you can get this
on sale, it's not a bad place to start for a first dress. Some
helpful tips when buying and using this pre-shirred stuff:
- Buy a yard, not three-quarters, even though you know you're going to have leftovers.
- This will shrink in the wash. So go home, serge the edges immediately (to secure the cut elastic strands) or fold over and zig-zag stitch the side edges. Then run it in the wash.
- Then measure and cut to fit your wearer.
- Use the leftovers to make a matching dress for a doll.
And now, finally, on with the tutorial!
This is what we will be making today - armholes!
This is pre-shirred fabric, but you can shir your own.
What you need:
- A shirred tube dress. Or about a yard of fabric to shir. See the first Summer Dress post for the prep.
- About a yard of bias tape - the 3/8" or 1/2" kind is a good width for straps.
- Scissors, sewing machine etc.
- Sew the side seams of the dress and serge/finish the seam edges and bottom hem.
- Lay the dress flat, with the side seam either in the middle of the back, or down one of the sides.
- Cut out the armholes. Important note: pre-shirred fabric, as earlier mentioned, has an elastic chain-stitch, so when cut, does not unravel in the crazy-instant way that home-shirred straight stitches do. If you are using a dress you shirred at home, you should draw the armhole line, sew the bias tape on as in Step 4, and then cut the armhole out before moving on to Step 5.
The width of this rounded bowl shape was 2.5" and
the height 2-2.5" (when the shirring was not stretched)
for Emily's dress. Adjust these measurements for a
smaller or larger child, or for whether you prefer a halter-
neck look (like this dress) or the regular small-armhole-
- Measure the length of bias tape needed for the armhole and shoulder strap. I actually put the dress on Emily (almost 5 years old) and Jenna (almost 3 years old) and measured around their armholes to get accurate measurements. Emily's was 14" and Jenna's was 13".
- Cut two lengths of bias tape 1/2" longer than this measurement. So here are two pieces of single-fold bias tape 14.5" long for Emily's dress.
- Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew the ends of one piece of tape together, right sides facing (left piece of tape in the picture).
- Repeat for the other piece of tape. You will then have two loops.
- Press open the seam (right piece of tape in the picture).
- Place the wrong side of the bias tape on the wrong side of the armhole and
- align the edge of the bias tape with the edge of the armhole that you cut in step 1.
- position the seam you sewed in step 3 along the side seam of the dress that you sewed in step 1.
- Pin (I prefer basting) if necessary.
- Beginning just below the edge of the dress, sew along the fold of the bias tape around the armhole. Stop sewing just before you reach the other edge of the dress. This means you are only sewing the portion of the bias tape that will be attached to the dress fabric. Don't forget to backstitch at both ends of the stitching.
- the lower half is connected to the dress and
- the upper half is completely unsewn.
- Fold the unsewn edge of the bias tape over to the right side of the fabric, and topstitch all around the loop to finish the strap.
Here you can see how the seam of the bias tape is
Repeat for the other armhole.
Next: The raglan sleeve nightdress, once I get my
act together and trace out the pattern.