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Shirred Summer Dress, with Tie-Back Bow

I recently found out about an incredible new fabric shop…..Modern Yardage.  They sell fabric by demand and only print it when someone orders it.  SO COOL!  There’s so much more freedom this way and the options are pretty endless.  And just think……..they never sell out of anything.  So you never have to worry about that super popular print not having enough yardage for your project.  (Grrrrr……have you ever had that happen?)  It’s brilliant!


One of their designers, Emilie Daly, is someone I have only met through email (working on a few different projects and such…).  We have talked back and forth several times……and let me tell you, she’s a serious treat! :)  Emilie recently told me about this new adventure she’s on……and that’s fabric designing.  What?!?!  Seriously, I just want to see how her little fabric designer brain works.  It baffles me!  Emilie recently sent me a bit of her fabric, once it was released……and I was so excited for her!  But even more excited for ME, and that I had some new fabric to play around with. :)


Right away, I knew I wanted to turn it into a summery dress for my little Coco.






A little bit of shirring…….and a nice floppy bow that cinches up and hangs down the back.





Like I mentioned above, Emilie Daly’s fabric is available through Modern Yardage.  They print it once it’s ordered and then your whole order is printed out on one piece of soft, high quality 100% cotton fabric.


So, if you wanted a 1/4 yard of a whole bunch of different fabrics, it would all come printed out on one piece.  No more crooked cuts or mis-measured fabric.  (Ahhhhh….that is always such a pain when the cutter makes a mistake.)






In the margins, there is fabric info, washing info, and little bits about the designer.  Such a unique concept!


The Fabric line of Emilie’s that I received, is called Personality in Carefree.  It’s bright, vibrant, and completely unique.







And she has many, many more colors and prints……all found here.






I’m sure the fabric I received would have made adorable curtains, darling pillows, or really great quilt squares…….but I have to say it made a really sweet summery dress! :)







This little chickie was so excited to try on her new dress.  I guess she’s just like her big sister and has a similar love for dresses and skirts.  I. Love. It.





The drape-y bow in the back loops through the top of the dress to keep it in place……..and is just plain fun.






And just think…… cute would this be as a little tunic top with some shorts or leggings.  I better get cutting up more fabric. :)






Truly Emilie, your fabric is gorgeous.  I couldn’t keep my hands off it until I finally whipped something up.  So, thank you!




 It’s summer.  You know you need one.  Or seven.  Truly, even if you’re a beginner, give this a try! :)



Here’s HOW:


Start by cutting a rectangle of fabric for the main portion of the dress.  The amount of fabric you use can vary……and the wider the rectangle of fabric, the more gathered and full the dress will be.  However, because you’re shirring the fabric, you don’t want too much fabric or it won’t pull in tight enough to hug your subject’s body.  So……I have found that cutting a piece of fabric that’s 1.5 – 2 times the chest measurement works best for this dress.  And then, as far as the length goes, measure from the highest point under the arms, down to the length you want it. 


For example, Chloe’s chest measures 19 inches and I wanted the dress to be 18 inches long.  So, I doubled the 19 inches to 38 inches.  As for the length, I added a half inch for the top hem and 1.5 inches for the bottom hem…….making the length 20 inches.  So, I cut a rectangle that was 38 x 20 inches.


After you have your rectangle piece cut, fold it in half lengthwise (with right sides together) and sew the two shorter ends together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Then zig-zag (or serge) the raw edges together.



Then, fold over the upper edge a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch……and then sew in place.



Then, begin shirring.  Make your first shirred line directly on top of the row of stitches that you sewed in the last step……and then space every shirred line after that, about 1/8 of an inch (or more) apart.  (Need help with shirring?)  If you need another example of sewing rows of shirring, check out this Shirt with a Shirred Band tutorial.


Now, be sure to steam your rows of shirring, to help shrink the fabric in.



As for the shoulder straps, cut two strips of fabric that are 5 inches wide and however long you want the shoulder straps to hang down the back.  (For Chloe, who’s 2, I cut my two strips 5 x 36 inches.)  Fold the strip in half lengthwise and iron flat and then fold the two edges in towards that center fold and iron again……just like bias tape.



Then sew it closed.  Repeat with both longs strips of fabric.



Then, on one end of each of the strips, fold it under a 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch……then sew in place. 



Now, fold the other ends of each strap up, a half inch.  And then place 2 pins on the upper edge of the front of the dress where your two straps will attach to the dress.  (The vertical seam that you sewed when sewing the two ends of the rectangle fabric together, should go directly in the back of the dress.)  Then, pin both strips in place where those 2 pins are, to the inside of the upper edge of the front of the dress…..overlapping by 1 inch.



Now, cut a strip of fabric that is 2 x 10 inches.  Fold and iron it like bias tape, just like you did with the shoulder straps above.



Then, sew it closed.



Cut the strip in half, so that you have two 5 inch strips.  Then, grab one of the strips and fold in half.  Then fold each end under 1/2 inch.




Then, pin it to the inside of the upper edge of the back of the dress…..overlapping by a 1/2 inch.  Repeat with the other 5 inch strip.  


Be sure to line up these back loops with the inside edge of each of the front straps.




Sew the front straps in place, with 2 seams.



Sew the 2 back loops in place with 2 seams as well.  And add a little tag, if you have some.



Now, fold under the bottom hem a 1/2 inch and then another 1 inch……and sew in place.



Iron all seams flat.


Thread the two straps through the back loops and tie into a big floppy bow.



And that’s it.


Now, enjoy your creation…….and make a few more!






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Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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