May 11, 2012

Summer Love Shirred Peasant Top - Tutorial

So, it's been almost a year of blogging, and I FINALLY get to post my first sewing tutorial.  You probably wouldn't think that I actually do sewing and alterations as a side job, would you!?!
I loooove the look of little girls in dresses and pretty clothes.  Ruby has lots of t-shirts and jeans, which are great for getting down and dirty at the playground and splashing in mud-puddles... but for everyday walks, visits, and jaunts to the Farmer's Market, I like to dress her up a little more 'polished.' 

This little pattern is size-adjustable for any little girl, and can be modified in many ways, including adding a shirred belt at the waist, or making it longer and turning it into a pretty little dress.

It's a basic 4-piece pattern that, if your shirring goes without a hitch, is quick to cut out and whip together.  Trust me...  I did this in less than a day... and that's between changing diapers, making meals, chasing a toddler, kissing boo-boos, and playing hide and seek, among other things!

Don't be scared of shirring if you've never tried it, it really is EEEAAASSSYYY.  I put it off for a long time, and finally took the plunge last spring.  I was surprised how simple it is. 

Shirring is - basically - sewing with regular thread on top, and elastic thread on the bottom.  The elastic will stretch as it sews into the fabric, and then tightens when the fabric is relaxed, creating the ruffly effect.  The trick really is just figuring out how to load your bobbin - some machines like the elastic thread wound loosely, and some like it wound tightly.  Just play around with it until it starts working for you. 

If you're looking for a step-by-step, Make It and Love It has a great tutorial here.

Supplies Needed:

Fabric - 1 meter (around 1 yard) should be more than enough (lightweight cottons work the best)
T-shirt that fits well (for template)
Elastic Thread
Ribbon - for trim, optional!
Basic Supplies - measuring tape, pins, sewing machine

Step 1 - Cutting the Pieces:

Fold your fabric in half along the grain, and then in half again lengthwise (you should have 4 layers of fabric, with a long folded edge).

Take your t-shirt, and place it about 3 or 4 inches in from the folded edge of the fabric. 

Using chalk, trace the neckline, from the foldline straight across and up, stopping about 1 " from the shoulder seam (where the shirt would hit the collarbone).

Flip the sleeve to the front, and trace from the armpit up to the neckline (the collar-bone area you just marked), in a loose J-shape.

To decide how long you'd like to make it, measure your little model from the armpit down to the hemline.
I wanted mine about 10" long from the armpit, so I added an extra inch, and marked it at 11".  Cut your hem on a slight curve.  (You can see my faint chalk line at the bottom).

Then cut from the armpit to the bottom hem, flaring slightly out at the bottom.  I followed the shape of my template shirt because it already had a slight flare, but you may have to do it yourself if your shirt is more square.  (Again, you can see my faint chalk line in the pic above.)

You should end up with two pieces that look like this:

(Forgive the creases - I was too lazy to iron it out... )

Now for the sleeves!

Fold your remaining fabric like you did for the body, so it's doubled along the fold line. 

Fold your 'body' pieces of the top in half again.  Place it on top of your folded fabric, with the bottom fold lining up about 1.5" in from the peak at the neck. 

Trim the top at the neckline:

And then along the sleeve line:

When you get to the armpit, cut straight down about 2", then straight across the bottom.

When unfolded, you should now have two pieces that look like this:

Step 2: Shirring!!

On your body pieces, sew one line of shirring from just under the armpit, straight across, to the other armpit.

Continue shirring up the front toward the neckline, spacing your rows about 1/2" apart.  Stop when you are about 1" - 1.5" away from the cut neckline edge.
Repeat for the other piece.

Step 3:  Sewing it all Together!

Finish your sleeve hems:  

Finish your hem edge with a zig-zag, serge, or press under slightly.  Turn about 1/4", press, and stitch in place.   

For the optional ribbon trim, simply pin in place just above the hem stitching.  Stitch up both sides of the ribbon, staying as close to the edges as possible.

Now pin your sleeve to your bodice piece, 'J'-shapes lined up, right sides together.  You may need to flatten out the bodice piece with your fingers, if the shirring is making it scrunch together. 

Do the same with the other side...

and now stitch the other bodice piece on, the same way.  This is what it should look like, turned right-side out.

Sew up the sides, pivoting at the armpit, and continue to sew the little sleeve seam.

You're at the home stretch now!

Finish your neck edge, and then turn over 1/4" and press in place.

Do two rows of shirring all the way around the neck edge, quite close together.  Mine were less than 1/4" apart.  Make sure to catch the pressed edge - you'll be anchoring the hem at the same time as you're adding the shirring.

Now press your bottom hem up 1", and stitch in place.  Add your ribbon trim at this point also, in the same way you did for the sleeves.


All that's left to do is press your seams, hit the shirring with a shot of steam, and hand-stitch a pretty little bow at the neckline.

And of course, force your 3-year old to model for you...

or just watch her run around like an animal, and hope she stops for a breath long enough that you can catch a cute photo  ;)


If you have any questions about any of the steps, feel free to leave me a comment and I'll do my best to help you out!

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1 comment:

  1. What a pretty dress,who wouldn't love it! i would love to try something like this for my niece.


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