Shirred Back Sundress
Posted on Monday the 24th April 2017 by Emmy Couture
I had been browsing around on the internet looking at various sewing blogs/projects. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I find myself so inspired to sew after seeing what everyone else is making. I ended up looking at the tutorial on Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing where Gertie talks about making an shirred back sundress. In her post, she mentioned that while she was using a partial back bodice for her sundress, you could absolutely use a normal, full back bodice and add a shirred panel. This got me thinking, and before I quite knew what I was about, I had a mental image of the dress bodice I was going to create.
Using the By Hand London Anna Dress bodice as a base, I cut across the back bodice pattern piece with a slight curve. I added seam allowances to both the top and bottom pieces, and an inch of extra ease to the bottom piece to allow for the elastic shirring. To add the extra ease, I measured lines two inches apart across the pattern piece. After cutting the lines, I added ¼ of an inch at each. Then I evened out the curve, and re-traced the pattern piece. I would probably add a little more ease next time. Hopefully this all made some sense! (Right: Original pattern piece Left: Modified pieces)
I used the v-neck option of the Anna dress, but I raised the depth of the “v” a little to make it a little less plungy. After sewing all the shirring, I made up the bodice like normal. (There are a bunch of tutorials online on how to use elastic thread for shirring.) I lined the non-shirred pieces in some white muslin I had laying around, and underlined the shirred pieces with the same strawberry print.
I knew exactly how I wanted the bodice to look, but it took me some time to decide what to do with the skirt. Originally I played around with the idea of a circle skirt, half circle skirt, gathered skirt, or a gathered tiered skirt. Oddly enough, I ended up with a pencil skirt! This polycotton fabric can tend to be a little less opaque than I would prefer, so I underlined the entire skirt with self-fabric. It worked out rather well!
I used a self-drafted pencil skirt pattern. I have only made this particular skirt pattern in a beautiful navy suiting fabric that has a bit of stretch to it. (There is a post up on my blog about it.) This strawberry fabric, like most quilting cottons, has no stretch to it. It took some adjustments to make the skirt work, let me tell you! There was a lot of basting, trying on, picking seams, and repeating.
I must say, it would have been way easier to do my normal flared skirt, but it was a nice challenge to try something different. I probably won’t be making sixteen different pencil skirt dresses, but now that I know I can make them, it increases my sewing options. The bodice was spot on to the look I wanted. The front looks like a normal, everyday dress, but the back has the lovely shirred detail to add some interest. Honestly though, I think the strawberry Fabric just makes the dress!
I also made a red cardigan to go with the dress. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about it when my husband took most of the photos, but I have included a couple pictures of it on my mannequin. I used the Jenna Cardi by Muse Patterns. I used view B which is waist length with the gathered yoke. The sleeves are somewhere in between 3/4 to full length.
The red Knit Fabric I used for it was wonderful! It had a little bit of weight to it, which makes it quite easy to work with. It is also beautifully opaque, something my last Jenna Cardi isn’t. And, realistically, who can’t use a red cardigan? You will probably notice that I haven’t added buttons or buttonholes to it. I haven’t found the perfect buttons for it yet, and I didn’t want to add any buttonholes until I knew what size the buttons would be. So, until the buttons show up, I will have to wear the cardigan without them.
Thank you for reading, and have a jolly day!