Friday, April 10, 2009

PINK FIG Cuppy Cake dress - How to sew - Shirring

When the Cuppy Cake dress pattern by Pink Fig came out, it was love at first sight! The process of making my choice of fabrics took a little longer.

After reading the pattern details I discovered a scary detail........SHIRRING. Panic struck! My thoughts raced.........I've never sheared a sheep, but thinking about shearing sheep seemed LESS intimidating! I know how to clip an Airedale Terrier......which is the almost like sheep shearing I think. Shirring with elastic thread is completely unknown territory for this gal! Decades of sewing, with absolutely zero shirring!
How did I get by without learning this and when did they invent elastic thread??

The pattern of which I fell in love with was giving me doubts and it was pushed aside for a couple of weeks while I gathered the courage to try the required shirring.
Finally I made the decision for fabrics and purchased the elastic thread.
I chose Amy Butler fabrics from Midwest Modern and Midwest Modern II collections

Once I began cutting the strips and sewing them together knew it would soon become fabulous! Sewing each strip of the Cuppy Cake dress is much like picking wildflowers . Each strip serves to enhance the other as do different flowers in a bouquet!

Measure your child and compare to the size on the pattern details.
Zoey wears a size 5T off the store rack, but is closer to a size 4T for this pattern's size chart.
The Cuppy Cake dress is a very forgiving design because we only need to be concerned about the length of the skirt and bodice size. Making it even better, the bodice has a stretchy back which allows for growing room! (size 12 months to 10 years included in this pattern)
Prepare to sew

I find the quickest way of cutting the strips is by using one strip as my pattern. The fabric-to-fabric eliminates the need for pinning. This seems to be much faster than measuring each time.

Once my strip lengths were sewn together I trimmed any uneven areas.

Chelsea Anderson, the talent behind PinkFig patterns, suggests joining the skirt strips in a circle. The hem band is created by a long piece which is seamed into a circle as well. Next, you would attach the skirt circle to the hem band circle.
I cheat (sorry Chelsea)
With right sides together, I pin the skirt band to the the skirt. Next I sew the side seam from the hem to the top of the skirt. This completes the circle of the skirt. My new serger makes a tidy side seam.
The above picture shows the finished panel ready to be stitched to the dress skirt. (right sides together)
The Shirring - turns out to be easy!

Can I stress again my fear of failing and self humiliation?

Once the skirt was ready, I could not put it off any longer! The completed bodice front , and the bodice back panel laid starring at me! I resisted the urge to kill time by grooming the dog.

Time to hand wind the elastic tread on the bobbin.
Not too tight. Not too loose.

Simply set your machine on a, straight or elastic zigzag stitch. If you've never used this stitch, you'll need to look for it. My Bernina 930 is 24 years old and has had that stitch waiting for this day! It looks like a broken zig zag.
With standard thread on the top and elastic thread on the bobbin, simply stitch the first row.
Now, repeat another row about 1/2 inch from the first. Repeat again. are shirring!!! With each row, the shirring gets more noticeable. Do not worry if your stitch lines have a little wave or two. This won't be easily noticed when complete...... as long as your top thread matches the fabric.

Once all of your rows are done, take it to the ironing board and shoot it with a burst of steam. The steam magically shrinks the shirred panel into a nice, even shape.
This part is so much fun that you may consider summoning your family to watch!

The thread shrinks up into a lovely shaped panel.
Smile again and pat yourself on the back!
For more information on shirring you can go to Pink Fig patterns tutorial.

Pink Fig patterns are wonderfully illustrated & easy to understand. Thank you Chelsea for making it easy for us!
I am itching to get back in front of the sewing machine now! More of my sewing trials & errors soon


  1. You did a great job. I just love that pattern OH BY THE WAY your OTHER granddaughter is a size 4 to 5 !!! just joking..

  2. Great job!

    Visiting from SITS - Welcome!

  3. Hi Kim! You know sewing machines get rusty and dusty when they aren't used. LOL

  4. I love that dress! It turned out so cute and your shirring instructions are fabulous!

    Thanks for sharing and for mentioning me:)


  5. Your "creations" are absolutely beautiful!! I see we have the same taste in fabric! I will definately be putting a link to your blog on mine!

  6. Got the link to your blog and "Your Fabric Place" up on my site!! Hope to see you soon!

  7. Oh my word I just ordered this pattern today. I found your blog and I am going to bookmark it because I think it will help me a ton when I go to make this dress. I am not a proficient sewer by any means but hopefully can make this pattern work. I just fell in love with it! Thanks for taking the time to give some instruction!

  8. did a FAB job.

    Happy Saturday Sharefest!

  9. I just stumbled across your blog...and can I just say... I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!

    I am now reading EVERY pattern review you posted. I love your fabric choices and you are a fantastic sewer. I also love how you write: funny yet informative. Thanks for all of the details and all of the great reviews.

    Your fan!
    Cathy aka The Attached Mama (who also hearts sewing!)

  10. Thanks so much for the shirring instructions, I may try to adapt a pattern for my 14yr old daughter. She loves the baby doll style tops, but they are so expensive, and the pattern she found has a zipper, so she wants me to change it to have shirring. Now I just need to figure out how much to expand the back section. I see lots of sample in my future.


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