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Summer Rose Shirred Halter Dress Tutorial- size 2 to 10

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I’ve got a new Shirred Halter Sundress tutorial to share today! (Includes measurements for sizes 2 to 10.)

Shirred Halter top pattern

I’ve been trying to straighten up my craft room a little bit.  It’s ridiculous how quickly it becomes trashed between me and the kids!  (It doesn’t help that I have to pull out ten different fabrics for each project…)  

Anyway, while straightening up, I came across this bandanna fabric I’d bought on a whim last year.  Originally, I was going to make pillows, but it turns out pillow forms that size are on the pricey side. (Plus, the colors didn’t really go with any of our decor,) so I scrapped that idea and decided to make a dress from the fabric.

I think I made the right choice because this fabric is spectacular!  

So gorgeous for summer. The shirred top will stretch, and the length is long enough to grow with her for a few more summers.

You can use bandannas on this dress, but regular woven cotton or knit fabrics will work too.  

A couple of things to remember if you use bandannas:  

  1. They shrink, so be sure to wash them first.  
  2. Depending on the bandanna, they can be sheer for a dress.  
  3. For an older girl, you will be limited on the width/length of the dress- though it would make a darling top as well.

Even though I used quilting cotton, I was limited in the width of my dress due to the design of the fabric print.  (The final width was 46, I would have liked it to be closer to 50.)  The widths given in the tutorial will be the wider widths, but use what you have – a few inches don’t really matter too much in the end.


Shirred Halter Sundress Tutorial

Materials needed:

  • Fabric:
    • Bodice: up to 1/4 yard
    • Straps:  1/4 yard
    • Skirt: 3/4 yard for smallest size up to 1 1/2 yard for largest size
  • Elastic Thread
  • basic sewing supplies
  • steam iron

Pattern notes:

Step 1:  Cut the pattern pieces

Cut the pattern pieces out for your size via this chart:

summer rose pattern cutting chart

Step 2: Assembling and shirring the bodice.

Line up bodice pieces, right sides together, and sew along on the edge, finishing the seam with your preferred method. (Zig zag stitch, serger, or pinking shears.)

To hem the top of the bodice, fold the top edge over 1/4 inch and press.  Fold over another 1/4 inch, press again, and sew along the edge.  (I chose to do a rolled edge with my serger, so if you do this, go ahead and cut off that extra 1/2 inch.)

To shirr the bodice, you must first, hand wind the elastic thread around your bobbin. (Not too tight, just normal tension.)  

Then add the bobbin to your machine and thread as normal.)  On my Janome and Singer machines, I did not have to adjust the stitch lengths or tension, but I recommend a few test runs if you have not shirred on your machine before.

To shirr, sew straight lines from one end of the bodice to the other, 3/8 inch apart.

The fabric will begin to bunch up, so be sure to keep it flat as you sew.

Keep going all the way to the bottom of the bodice.

Apply steam to the shirring and watch it gather up!

Securely tie off your stitches.

Line up the raw edges of the bodice, right sides together, and sew.  Finish this seam with your preferred method.  I don’t recommend the pinking shears for this as there is a chance you could cut off the tied-off elastic thread.

Step 3:  Assembling the skirt.

Line up the two skirt pieces, right sides together, and sew along both sides.  Finish these seams

Sew a gathering/basting stitch along the top of the skirt.

Lay the bodice out flat and gather the skirt to the width of the bodice PLUS 1 INCH. (so it is actually 2 inches wider when you open everything up.  (The extra width will help keep the stitches from popping when your child takes the dress on and off.)

Divide the bodice up into four sections and mark with a pin.

Do the same with the skirt.

Line up the raw edges of the skirt and bodice, right sides together, matching up the pins. Finish pinning the skirt to the bodice, gently stretching the bodice to fit the gathered skirt.

Sew the skirt and bodice together, right below/along the gathering stitch.  Finish this seam.

Hem the bottom of the dress by folding the bottom edge 1/4 inch, press.  Fold over another 1/4 inch, press again, and sew along the edge.

Step 4: Adding the straps: 

Fold the straps right sides together and sew along the side and top edge.  Flip right side out and press.

Pin the straps in place and carefully stitch them in place.

Add an embellishment if desired.

Optional Step 5. Adding a back loop.

I personally dislike it when the back of my daughter’s halter dresses sag!  To solve this issue, I always add a little loop to the back of her dresses to tie the halter straps through.  This helps support the dress over her shoulders ad prevents the back from sagging.

That’s it; you are done!

Like this tutorial? Please pin it!

Looking for more options? Here is a similar dress with spaghetti straps, upcycled from an XL shirt.

or this tutorial for this Sweet Summer Sundress:

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  1. Super cute! I would use the blue/brown fabric to make a dress for my foster daughter, she has been begging for me to make one for a few weeks!

  2. Jennifer Shelby says:

    I would use the blue/brown fabric to make a dress like this for my little girl!

  3. I would probably use this blue/brown fabric to create a cute pillowcase dress for my new little niece who will be here in October.

  4. Cathy Mini says:

    Beautifully made dress! I love DIY clothing that seriously doesn't look handmade, and you are spot ON with that! Looks flawless–pinning this now to my sewing board to share!

    Thanks for linking up to our Betwitchin Party! Be sure to come back every Sunday starting at 6am EST over at OurMiniFamily.com to link up your projects again!

    ~Cathy Mini~

  5. Gina Wamsley says:

    This dress looks so cute on your daughter. I've never come across a tutorial on how to shir with elastic in the bobbin. Thank you!

    If I won the blue/brown fabric, I'm sure I would make a bag out of it! 🙂

    I pinned this post here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/300756081338919011/

    Have a great day!

  6. Sarah Nenni-Daher says:

    Oops, I hit the publish button too soon!

    For the blue/brown fabric, I would probably make this or another bohemian-style dress for my daughter. It's a great fabric for that look.

    I pinned it to my Sewing board here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/199847302190043007/

  7. Sarah Nenni-Daher says:

    This is just adorable! I bought elastic thread but have been – ahem – too afraid to try it. Thank you for very clear tutorial.

    One question: how do you 'tie off' the elastic thread? Just knot it at the ends or to each other?

    Thanks again for sharing this – pinned and tweeted!

    1. Yes, I just pull the needle thread to the back of the fabric and tied them into little square knots.

  8. Pinned for future use. Thinking maybe Easter? Thanks again!

  9. The dress is adorable. And so easy to showcase some amazing fabric. Blue/brown fabric would be a pretty dress, but also a pretty start for a quilt!

  10. I'd make a dress for Isabella with the blue/brown panel !

  11. T'onna Peters says:

    Cute dress and great tutorial. I'm not sure if I'm ready for shirring yet, but I'm going to pin this for when I am ready. 🙂

    Navy Wifey Peters @ The Submarine Sunday Link Party!

  12. TwynMawrMom says:

    Fabulous tutorial!!! I have been very hesitant to try elastic thread but this is giving me courage.

  13. Oh MY! LOVE that Blue/Brown fabric!! Thanks for being SEW generous!!

  14. My niece is going away to college – this would look great on her bed, wall or her as a coverup/top! Thanks for the giveaway – Ooh La la!

  15. columbusfirst Ward says:

    So cute! I would certainly try to make my 4 yr old a dress out of the fabric. WOOT

  16. Such a cute dress! I might try the same dress for my little girl if I won the blue/brown fabric! Thanks!