Shirred Genius

Oh my goodness, I am tickled pink plaid with myself...  prepare yourself for one heck of a DIY post...

Lest you think that I misled you previously when I claimed to have no artistic abilities, here is a little fact about myself that I've never publicly admitted... I was in "Go Sew" 4-H Club.  YUP... for a few misguided years, I was in a sewing club.  I don't quite get how I made it through that club without actually sewing, but I have very few memories of sewing and lots of memories of running around a church basement.

Here is the product of that time well spent:
yeah.  exactly.  is it a snake?  a dog?  a sog?  check out the fabric painted blobs/eyes.  those fuzzy ears... GLUED on!  the button nose, hanging on by A thread.  amazingly enough, my parents kept this monstrosity and I found it last year.  I'm sure they kept it more out of fear of ridicule from the garbage man than out of love for their daughter.

In a few weeks, I AM TURNING 30!  Wow.  Sweet.  'Ello bonafide adulthood!  In honor of the big day, I'm hosting a SQUARE DANCE!

This post just keeps getting better and better (or maybe just more embarrassing).

Before my mom left for a month in Alaska, she showed me this skirt that had never been worn, whose elastic waist had dry-rot and was bound for my dad's scrap cloth pile:
yikes, mental note:  never again take a picture into a mirror.

She proposed that we put a new elastic waist in and one of us could wear it.  Good idea, but when I tried it on, I pulled it over my bust and thought immediately of this (in case you don't want to look... it's an awesome sewing blog and the woman made a cute swimming cover-up for this summer).  So I Googled "shirring" and did extensive research...err... looked at each link on the first page of search results.  "Huh, looks EASY".

However, Socrates says "KNOW THYSELF" ...... so I took the skirt to a local seamstress.  She said "not enough fabric in the skirt for that and DEFINITELY not enough time for me to get it ready for your party".

(my thought process):  "Huh... well, the BLOGS (much more knowledgeable then a seamstress) said you use enough fabric for a normal fit... and this skirt is WAY bigger than that.  Plus, I'm right by JoAnn Fabrics, what would it hurt for me to buy the elastic thread and simply try?"  I gave myself ONE nap time and if it didn't work, I was only out the $3 for the cost of elastic thread.  I debated for 2 seconds about buying the detailed pattern and instructions from MADE (linked above), but thriftiness won and I merely looked at a few of the links about shirring again.

FOLKS, let me introduce the product of yesterday's sewing jamboree:
1/2 way through making my shirred rows.  Can't believe it's working!   This pattern is great for hiding mistakes!
the entire skirt with a shirred top.
mama & daughter dresses AND matching boots!  both items are a cosmic gift of matchy-ness...not my original plan!
Now, I'm not going to share a tutorial because really, there's enough great stuff already out there!  I made 20 lines of footer-width-plus shirred rows.  I read that the less width between rows, the tighter the shirring is.  As a woman who has been pregnant or breastfeeding for 4 years, support is a MUST!  I was confused on exactly what width to cut the skirt, so I decided to sheer the entire width of it (after I cut off the original waist and filleted the skirt open) and then cut it to size.  

Thank goodness Hazel was the only witness to my "fittings".  Once I finally chose the width, I simply sewed up the side, tried it on again (just in case... figuring I could take out the seam if I misjudged), and then cut off the excess.  I was holding the excess as Hazel came bouncing by.  I wrapped it around her and WONDER OF WONDERS... it was a PERFECT fit!  So I simply sewed up the side of my scrap and then hemmed it!  

I wanted to add straps (refer to previous paragraph where I delicately mention my bust size), but I didn't want to tie it around my neck and I didn't want a V in the front.  So I put a V in the back and brought the straps over each shoulder.  For Hazel, I had a teeny tiny bit of strap left, so I put a V in the front of her dress and it (barely) ties around her neck.  

When we wear the dresses, I really fill my top out and the sheering is pulled rather tight while Hazel's stays nice and pucker-y.  So, perhaps I cut my dress too tight, however, I LOVE this dress and by next summer I will be a smaller mama, so it will probably be more pucker-y then.

I was SO proud of myself, I made both my dad and husband admire my handiwork.  Then I noticed sweet Heidi... hmmm.... I decided to make her a flower headband out of some of the scraps (I have tons of scraps 'cause both dresses were way too long as-is).  I used this tutorial.  So easy!  There will be lots more fabric flowers in my future.

Before I show you the flower, I must admit, Jake had an even BETTER idea.  He said "how about a BONNET for Heidi?".  So, using this tutorial, I cranked this beauty out this morning!  Again, WAY easier than I imagined.  Now I want to make lots and lots of bonnets too!

* I decided to show all these projects not on the actual person they are meant for... that will make my post square dance pictures much more exciting ;)

**For those of you that want more info about the cowgirl had and bonnet:
COWGIRL HAT:  I bought this beauty for $4 at a local store.  It had a thin line of red yard sewn along the brim.  I could have taken it off and should have... instead I simply hot glued a scrap of brown binding tape (left over from HUBBY's last sewing project... a gun case... you've just got to know him to understand!) around the yarn and then hot glued the flower in the middle.  Gonna look pretty darn cute with it's coordinating dress, eh?
BONNET:  The pattern is for a reversible hat.  However, since this homespun (I think that's what the fabric is called) looks the same on both sides, I opted for laziness and did a single layer for the hat.  All was going smoothly and I was impressed with my ruffle prow-ess... when I realized that I put the ruffles on the BACK of the hat!  Oops!  Oh well, I like them there too!  At this point, I was getting careless/lazy and used a scrap from the bottom hem of the dress for the ruffles on the front.  Since it was professionally hemmed, I decided to just use it as is... instead of folding a piece of cloth in half.  I think that's why the front ruffles are a little droopy, they should be twice as thick.  Also, I mistakingly have the wrong side of the ruffle facing up... and it wasn't quite long enough and I had to splice a piece in at the end.  So, don't look too closely!  To finish things up, I used the last of the brown binding tape and will tie it in a sweet bow under Heidi's chin.  Now that she's FINALLY awake, I've discovered that the hat is a tad large for her 5-month-old (almost) head, but oh does she look simply DARLING!

All I have to say now is:  there is still a nice size pile of scraps... LOOK OUT JAKE!


  1. wow wow wow. Who are you? What did you do with my sister?
    This is awesome! I'm so proud of you!

  2. look at you GO! and you didn't even need your craft committee to tell you it was a GREAT idea.

  3. Please start teaching me how to sew! I would LOVE to learn...and those dresses and bonnet are AWESOME...I'm jealous of your cool bday outfit for the party! I can't wait to see it on:)

  4. WOW! All I can say is that you can NO LONGER say that you are an un-crafty family member! Very impressed.

  5. Wow Julies! I think you benefited from doing this on your own!! Looks great!!

    By the way... am I the only one who doesn't know what DIY stands for?

  6. Wow, you are great with the sewing machine! You have so much talent, amazing!

  7. My lands girl!!! Give her a stitch and she'll go a mile, or something witty like that :) I'm impressed!


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