DIY Shirred Dress Sewing Review

DIY Shirred Dress Review

With cottagecore and nap dresses still going strong in 2021, I’ve decided to finally embrace and hop onto the stretchy-comfy-midi-dress train. 

Thankfully, this popular dress is easy to sew with a home sewing machine and just a few supplies. The pattern is very simple and just consists of regular ol’ rectangles. There are a ton of great instructions out there – on Instagram stories (@ByHandLondon & @pantsfessional’s take), YouTube, and more. I ended up following a combination of these, as they are very similar.

While most versions have puff sleeves, I find these tricky to pull off with my slightly broader shoulders. So instead, I opted for simple 1” straps that provide plenty of bra strap coverage. 

BHL Shirred Dress with Straps
Above: A little wrinkly from the wash, but adds to the worn-in look. Worn with an H&M tote and Rothy’s sandals (reviewed here).

Materials

Because my fabric was 58” in width, I was able to get by with a little under 1.5 yards of material. Of course, it helps that I am on the shorter side of 5’4”, and I used less fabric since I opted for straps instead of sleeves. All in all, this dress cost a fairly reasonable ~$25 in materials.

Measurements

Since this was my first shirred dress, I decided on a more simple silhouette – two tiers with shoulder straps, which required 5 rectangles in total. Most tutorials had similar instructions, which are a great starting point but might require some adjustments:

PieceInitial MeasurementAdjustments?
Top + Bodice (1 piece)38” length x 48” width (my bust measurement x 1.5)32” length x 40” width
Ruffle Tier (2 pieces)Two of 8” length x 36” widthNo adjustments
Straps (2 pieces)Two of 18” length x 3” widthTrimmed length after trying on – ended up around ~13”

Learnings

All in all, this was a pretty quick sew – I cut the fabric pieces and sewed it all up in one afternoon. The adjustments took a bit of time, but that’s the beauty of sewing – the ability to  tailor pieces to your body as you go along.

Test, test, test. Before sewing into my main linen fabric, I tested shirring on some scrap quilting cotton pieces. This helped me dial in to the right tension and stitch length settings ahead of time. It was also cool to see how the scrunching intensifies after a few rows.

Fabric matters. I used a mid-weight linen at 5.3oz which is great for opacity. However, it doesn’t shirr quite as much as a lightweight quilting cotton / linen / rayon. Which is how I ended up taking in the dress by about 8” total.

Draw guidelines, but not too well. I’m still trying to figure this one out – since my fabric was white, I used a blue chalk pen to draw guiding lines every 2” for the shirring. This helped ensure that I was sewing in a straight line throughout all 8” of the bodice. However, I spent about 30 minutes hand scrubbing the chalk out before wearing, and there’s still a little bit of blue visible. It’s tricky, as you have to draw the guidelines on the external facing side, since the elastic must be on the bobbin.

Washing & drying will increase the scrunch factor. I actually wish I hadn’t taken in the dress quite as much as I did. I didn’t realize that washing and drying the garment (note: I already pre-washed and shrunk my fabric) would shrink the elastic thread. It’s quite snug now, and I wish I had an additional 1 – 2” of give.

Verdict

I really like this dress, and have already worn it a few times! I’m glad I added straps instead of sleeves, which balance out the silhouette and makes it much more casually wearable. Given this, I’ll soon be making another version with a fun Rifle Paper Co. rayon that I have on hand. 

Partnership Disclosure: This blog post was not sponsored by any of the brands listed above. This post contains affiliate links, in which I earn a commission on purchases.

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I'm Kristy, a growth marketer based in not-so-sunny San Francisco ⛅ This is my personal blog, where you will find my random musings, in-depth reviews, and latest sewing endeavors.

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