So I tried to shirr a while ago.  I started this dress back at the beginning of May after hours of designing my own pattern.  (My sister has asked me to copy several mini Boden outfits for E.)

Trial Run Dress for E

I finally got around to putting it together and shirring last week.  The elastic thread has already come apart so I have to do it over.

Broken Already

I scoured the web looking for a shirring tutorial where the rows were not sewn in a circle or tube.  I just wanted to go back and forth across the front and back of the dress, but didn’t know if I had to tie off at each end.  Yeah, I was too lazy to tie all those darn knots that people do.


I wanted to sew one continuous line, but since I couldn’t find anything showing it done this way I wasn’t sure if that would still work okay or if it would throw off the whole shirring process.  Instead, I backstitched 3 or 4 times at the beginning and end of each row.  Bad idea.  After talking with G the other night, I found the exact thing I wanted to do in an Octobre mag!  The worst part was that one of the editions I already had also had the exact shirring technique that I was trying to accomplish.  Frustrating.  It was right in front of me all along.


So I will be re-doing the shirring and will be sewing in one continuous line this time, (and will reduce those ginormous pockets!).  Live and learn.

I also finally tried AB’s Swing bag– minus the scarf.  I don’t like scarfs.

Grad Present

I liked the pattern.  It was bare bones.  No pockets, gussets, or closures.  It’s supposed to be reversible so you can’t add all that nonsense stuff if you want to be able to turn it inside out.  I really liked the pleats at the base of each handle.  It’s too cute.

Love the Handle Pleats

The bag was for a neighbor’s daughter who just graduated high school and is heading off to OSU.  I tucked in some hard-to-find long sheets for her dorm and called it good.  It was great because I didn’t have to wrap it.  I don’t like to wrap. Talk about a waste of resources.  (Sorry, I feel a mean cold coming on which is why this post is a little funky and negative.)

Gift Inside

I really do like the bag pattern, but changed a few things such as: I didn’t interface it with canvas as the pattern instructs.  Who keeps light colored canvas on hand?  Do you?  I sure don’t.  I had this stuff which worked out just fine.  Also, I did not leave the opening for turning on the curve of the top of the bag.  I wasn’t about to handstitch on a curve- it always turns out crappy.  So instead, I put the opening on one of the straight sides and topstitched. Finished and given already with lots of thank you’s.

Next up- how does your garden grow & tour of my yard.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Don’t forget to accommodate future bug and rock collections and downsize the pockets on your lovely dress too much!


  2. The dress looks very pretty and I love the blue. I’ve only tried shirring once on the sleeves of a blouse and I didn’t know then that I could just sew back and forth. There’s a video segment on the Martha Stewart website of Heather Ross demonstrating shirring and showing that you just pull the threads at the end of the seam – see link -


  3. Would you be terribly upset if I kidnapped your girl? Okay, that’s inappropriate, and unlawful and all BUT Irene? She is a doll. A doll, I tell you.


  4. What a great bag. I like the dress, too – but I think you’ve scared me off shirring now. I keep seeing it around, have had several people tell me it’s easy and I’ve even bought the elastic thread now. If someone like you finds it awkward, though, I’m not sure there’s much hope for me.


  5. I love the Swing Bag! I teach that bag and always have issues with the same things: canvas and the opening! I leave the opening in the side and machine stitch it closed with an itty bitty seam allowance. Who really needs a bag to be reversible anyway? 🙂
    I just made one with fusible fleece and some cheater fabric (not unlike the one you used) and I quilted the squares. With the fusible fleece in there, it made for a nice texture. (I only quilted through the outside fabric and the fleece, not through the lining. Just to clarify. :))

    Wish I could help with the shirring – no little girls in my world, so no shirring for me!

    Hey, are you still in WW? Have you ever gone to the Mommy and Me meetings on Mondays in Beaverton? Orion is almost done with school, so I need a meeting that I can take him to. Or find an evening one I guess. But I know I’ll never peel myself away from the house in the evenings in the summer!…


  6. Posted by paperseed on June 10, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Yeah, I’ve been loving several mini Boden outfits myself. That dress turned out lovely regardless.


  7. Posted by paperseed on June 10, 2009 at 4:39 am

    I just read through the comments. I’ve never heard of the “Mommy and Me meetings on Mondays in Beaverton” that Sally mentions. What is that? Maybe I’ll try and do an internet search about it…


  8. Posted by Echo99 on October 20, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Hi there – I know this is an old post but I’ve been trying to find Ottobre magazine in NZ and it doesn’t exist here without a subscription, so I can’t get back issues easily. Did you find anywhere else that explains how to shirr without stopping at the end of each line? I hate tying all those darned knots too and my two little girls would love a few dresses/tops/skirts etc? Many thanks and I do so enjoy your blog. Echo


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