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Re-imagine & Renovate - Wearables: Shirred Sundress

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Sometimes it's fun to not have to worry about learning a whole new project. Instead, why not take a favorite design and simply give it a whole new look? In other words: Re-imagine & Renovate! Like a fresh coat of paint, brand new fabric and a few little changes can make all the difference. The original project on which this R&R is based was a top; we've simply lengthened it to create a dress - we show you how to do the math below. And, we give the link to our step-by-step shirring tutorial. You have everything you need to create something totally unique. Open yourself up to a world of possibilities in both fabric and techniques; give yourself a little R&R!

We switched from the voile of the original project to a standard quilting cotton, which shirred up beautifully. 

For the measurements shown below, you'll need 1 yard of 44"+ wide standard quilting weight cotton. For your own measurements (refer to the original tutorial for the math), you might need less or mor yardage.

To Re-imagine & Renovate your own Shirred Sundress, go to the original tutorial:

Shirred Sun Top In Floaty, Flirty Voile

Our dress was sewn very similar the original, with the following exceptions. 

We extended it from a shirt to a dress. We decided on a 27" finished length from the top of the bodice to the hem. The original instructions show you how to do the math for both the width and length of your panels. The cut sizes of our two panels were 15" wide x 28" long.

We used a standard quilting weight cotton rather than a voile. This is still a lightweight fabric and it shirred quite nicely. However, it didn't shrink the width by half like the voile did. It was more like 30%, which is why our starting panel width is narrower than for the voile top. As we always say, test a few sample strips before doing your final cuts. If you are new to shirring, see our step-by-step shirring tutorial.

In addition, we made fabric ties rather than using ribbon for the shoulder straps.

  1. To do this, cut FOUR 1" x 18" strips.
  2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, making it ½" x 18". Press to set a crease.
  3. Unfold so the center crease in visible. Fold in each long raw edge to the middle so the two raw edges meet in the center. Press each side. 
  4. Fold in half again along the original crease, encasing the raw edges. Press and pin in place. Topstitch the length of the strip to secure. 
  5. We didn't finish the raw ends of the ties because they are oh-so-skinny. We simply knotted the ends and there was very little, if any, raveling. If you are concerned about it, you could dot the ends with a seam sealant, such as Fray Check by Dritz

Hints and Tips

Looking for more information on blending, mixing and matching your fabrics for a new look to a classic project? Check out these tutorials:

Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints

How to Mix & Match Designer Fabric Collections

How to Create A Fabric Palette

Making the Right Fabric Choice


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild


Comments (2)

betz said:
betz's picture

I made these type of dresses I believe in the 60's. Then I especially liked them in small print calico cotton. Now I love the new fabrics. This shows how sewing techniques and good design and comfort may disappear for a time (long missed) from ready-made wear but those who sew can find renewed satisfaction from the past. Thanks. (Now if someone could explain to the kids what hip-huggers were and why they were more comfortable (and flattering) than low-riders : ) 

dmarie006 said:
dmarie006's picture

I LOVE these types of shirts and dresses.  So glad to see a pattern on how to make one and do the shirring which is such a cool effect!  Thank you!!