These Sleeper-inspired dresses are popping up everywhere at the moment. The idea behind the brand is dresses handcrafted in Ukraine using natural materials like linen, to make sleepwear inspired dresses comfy enough to nap or lounge in, but pretty enough to wear out. That’s the idea anyway. The whole shirred bodice dress is having a moment anyway, and I decided to jump on the bandwagon, using some polka dot viscose I had in my stash. Shirring is pretty easy and a fun way to add texture/ detail to a garment.
To make my version I used OOP McCalls 7534 as the base for my dress. I have made a top using this pattern once before – see here. Over on Instagram, By Hand London have an excellent tutorial on shirring and also how to draft a dress something like this to your own measurements. What I didn’t like about that version is that the sleeve is not properly “set in” into an armhole, but just sewn to the bodice of the dress at the underarm. So I used the sleeves from view C/D of McCalls 7902, which I have made before – see here, to add voluminous sleeves. The sleeves from that pattern went perfectly with the bodice from the other pattern, so it was meant to be. Just as I finished this dress, Victory patterns also released the Sofia dress (including in an extended size range up to size 30), which is definitely worth checking out if you like this style of dress and want a pattern which includes sleeve options.
When I shared I was making this dress over on Instagram, I had quite a few messages saying how people were scared of shirring. I admit I did drag my old Janome machine out to do the shirring on this dress. I have shirred on the Pfaff before, but I recall having to fiddle with the settings somewhat to make it work, and I knew shirring on the Janome was fairly straightforward. Check out the By Hand London link above, but also this excellent tutorial written by Erica Bunker.
This dress is fun and easy to wear, although I am wearing a strapless bra for these photographs. One thing I will say is that I can’t see how it would be possible to do an FBA on a dress like this, so the fit is perhaps not as perfect as I would like, but it is still perfectly wearable and along with classic pieces it’s also nice to have some on trend pieces in my wardrobe. BTW, I recall having a shirred bodice dress some 10 years ago. Not quite the same as this, but of course, fashions just keep coming around.
- Used McCalls 7543 as the main basis for the dress. I added 8 inches to the length to make the dress more midi length, and added extra width to the dress all the way down to the hem to get a total of approximately 1.7 times the width of my bust. e.g. front and back bodice pieces measured 26 inches width. I added 18 inches extra width to the front and back pieces to give me approximately 1.7 times the width of my bust. You need that extra width to account for the shrinking that will happen once you steam the shirring.
- Used McCalls 7902 for the sleeves. I shortened the elastic over the shoulders by approximately 1 inch and took 5/8ths inch narrow hem. I ended up adding a casing and feeding some elastic through to finish the openings.
- I used my Janome machine for the shirring, using a stitch length of 4 and moved the needle to the far left so my lines of shirring are spaced out by approximately 3/8ths inch. I used approximately 8 bobbins of elastic which I hand wound to shir the bodice, and sewed approximately 20 rows of shirring covering approximately 8 inches of fabric to form my bodice.
I confess that I am now at the point where my autumn sewing plans are rapidly disintegrating faced with the prospect of extended Covid restrictions. What about you? How is Covid impacting your sewing plans?