Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Shirring Fail + a Draping Attempt (T-shirt wedding dress progress)

So I finally started Monday night on that T-shirt wedding dress costume project for work--the skit is this weekend, but I have to have it ready for a fitting on Thursday. The above is my attempt at "draping"--it's just a bunch of XL size shirts cut up and pinned together on my dress form (which has now been adjusted to approximate the woman who will be wearing it). I'm digging the wide straps and the plunging wrap / sweetheart / surplice neckline.

My original plan was to fit the bodice with shirring:

But as I should have remembered from the great elastic shirring debacle of 2010, my sewing machine REFUSES to shir with elastic thread in the bobbin. Unfortunately, this T-shirt fabric is so thick and rough, it wouldn't even shir via the zig-zag method (sewing with a zig-zag over the stretched elastic thread).

So I sewed the skirt together from two of the shirts with an elastic waistband instead. The bustle or flare or train or flounce thingie is just part of those two shirts left on. I was disappointed that the logos on the shirts are so small, so I may (if I find the time) apply larger ones with T-shirt transfers or just fabric paint.

It was such a relief to actually get back at the sewing machine. I'm a bit stressed out by the deadline, but my husband (who helpfully cut up all the T-shirts for me) keeps reminding me that this thing only has to look OK from 20 feet away from the stage, and that it is supposed to look rugged/thrown together.

It is pretty freeing to be going pattern free and just randomly cutting, draping and sewing. I am the sort of person who usually spends hours carefully aligning and smoothing and pinning and cutting my fabric perfectly on grain and making sure I cut the pattern out precisely without slicing off any tissue and... no wonder I barely sew one garment per month.

I do hope that somehow I will also find the time to sew something normal for myself to wear in time for the Brooklyn BurdaStyle Sewing Club meetup Sunday, but if not, I suppose I could bring this.

So: do you ever go pattern-free and just wing it? What have your results been like?

P.S. Tonight, June 6, at midnight EST is the deadline to enter my vintage sewing pattern illustration giveaway! Thanks to all of you for the awesome entries so far!

P.P.S. My daughter's comment looking at the dress in progress on the mannequin: "Oh a dress! Pretty! Boobies!" Toddler wisdom at its finest.


  1. I had a shirring incident too: that put me off, well, that's not really true, I will try again. But it did cause me to go patternless for the lower part of the dress in order to save it. I loved the fabric so much I HAD to find a way and just winged it and I am so happy with the result. I found it quite liberating too, needs must I guess ;) I'm really looking forward to the final wedding dress, it's looking amazing xx

  2. This is so fun! What a pain about the shirring. Maybe zig-zagging over that thicker round elastic and then tightening it after would've worked---but it sounds like you have it all figured out. I will be grateful and give thanks to the sewing gods that my machine shirs quite happily---although on thick fabric like this you may have been SOL regardless.

    I don't ever really go "off road" these days---I did in the past, but I'm pretty into patterns nowadays. That being said, I don't have a project like this to work on, either. It definitely seems like it's working for you! And I agree, I love the surplice and wide straps.

  3. Oh I remember the shirring! I never really believe anyone that says it's easy after your experience. But the draping looks great! Boobies indeed! LOL

  4. Try steaming the elastic after sewing - sometimes works wonders. Shots of steam work best.

  5. I am not super brave with going pattern free for adults. It seems like fitting issues are greater then. I don't have a dress form though, so maybe that really helps? I think they are definitely some pretty boobies :) -- I need to master shirring. I always think it looks pretty, but I have not even tried it. I need to before my girls are too old for shirred sundresses.


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