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Laura’s Sofia Dress

Shirring is definitely having a moment right now so Laura decided to give this trend a go with July’s Classic Box viscose and made a Victory Patterns Sofia Dress.

I’m not usually one to be jumping on trends, but shirring is one that I can get on board with!

Shirring is really doing a round at the moment, particularly in the sewing community. And since they made the shirred dress on week 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee, I was totally inspired to give this trend a go.

The style of this dress suits a floaty, lightweight fabric so the viscose this month absolutely meets the bill. I really like the combination of pink and green and I love paisley print to boot.

To make life a little easier on myself I went with the Sofia Dress from Victory Patterns, but there are quite a few tutorials on how to draft your own. Another sway towards the Sofia Dress was the sleeve variations that came with the pattern. I decided to go with the fluttery bias-cut bell sleeves as they have a shoulder strap which I wanted to include to hide bra straps.

To fit it on the 2.5 meters, I had to shorten the skirt by 6 inches. In the end, this was a blessing in disguise as I think that this is the perfect tea-dress length on me.

Now, I’m not going to lie, constructing this dress was a labour of love!

Unfortunately, I really struggled to get the tension right on my machine. The instructions with the Sofia Dress come with lots of good tips to get your shirring right. However, nothing seemed to be working.

After doing some research, it looks like this is a problem particularly with Brother sewing machines. It was all down to the bobbin tension. I was pointed in the direction of a YouTube video that guided you through how to tighten the bobbin tension (do not take this lightly, it involves taking your bobbin holder completely out and fiddling with screws) and how to put the bobbin with your elastic in the holder.

Thankfully this worked like a dream, and I was shirring away.

Then I was hit with another problem. I’d got about ¾ of the way down when I realised that I was going very wonky in the middle. As the piece shrinks top-down as you progress, it is difficult to sew shirring straight. Especially if you are using the preceding line as a guide as it only takes a 1 lopsided line and you’re doomed for the rest of it.

So out with the seam ripper again. This time, I drew guidelines directly onto the fabric with a Frixion pen. I highly recommend this pen; I use it all the time in my sewing as you can draw very precisely (great for drawing dart legs), and it completely disappears under heat of an iron.

Success! After trial and tribulation, I finally had 2 perfectly shirred bodice panels.

The rest of the dress was very straightforward and came together quickly. I took a good tip from Helen’s Closet pattern instructions and pre-pressed my sleeve hems before sewing the seam which is much easier than trying to press narrow hems in the round.

After the turbulent start, I finally tried on the finished dress, and it was absolute love. I think the style really suits my figure as it hugs my top half and falls loosely over my bottom half. Plus, it has pockets!

Whilst I did have a steep learning curve with the shirring aspect, it has certainly not put me off and will be making many more shirred garments in the future. Just take the time to learn the nuance of your machine and take it slow. Pretty soon you’ll be a shirring connoisseur.