When it’s nice…

We island people say ‘when it’s nice, you gotta do it twice!’

A beg yuh, keep this phrase in mind as you read through my latest confession!

It has O.N.L.Y taken me two and a half years to realise that I have NOT been making the most of my sewing patterns and truth be told, I have accumulated a decent stash: both PDF’s and paper patterns. Those of you who buy sewing patterns know they can be quite pricey: ranging from about US$2 (if you take advantage of the sales) to about US$20 (sometimes much more) for one pattern! Uh huh. Sewing ain’t a cheap y’all!

Up to quite recently, my sewing M. O (modus operandi) has been to invest numerous hours printing, assembling, tracing, adjusting and fitting a pattern, only to sew it up one time, maybe photograph it (if I’m lucky), and swiftly move on to a ‘new’ project. But on reflection, this made no sense, so I started adjusting the way I sew. I’m sure some of you reading this can relate and like me, want to sew allllll the things! But guys, I’m here to tell ya that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with sewing a pattern two, three, four or a hundred times; either as is, or as a base for a pattern hack. Cas’ bang-for-your-buck is always in style!

Now that you understand where my mind is at, I can tell you that I hacked the Jessica Dress by Mimi G. Wait, wasn’t my last post about the Jessica Dress? Yes… yes it was (you can read all about it here)… but this one is different, I promise! So, hear me out… 

Shirring has been so on trend this year and I’ve seen several different outfits popping up on my insta’ and pinterest feeds featuring this technique. Though I was intrigued by these projects, I held off on giving shirring a go. Why? I have absolutely NO CLUE. My delay means that I am probably the last sewist on earth to give shirring a try, but better late than never, right? 

I just love the bodice of the Jessica Dress, and having made it about 4 or so times before, I think it’s safe to call this one a ‘TnT’ pattern (tried and true). This time, I wanted to add a shirred back panel to the dress and I set about making the necessary alterations to bring my vision to life. 

I removed the overlap and seam allowance from the front bodice piece and cut two on the fold (since I decided to self-line my dress). To accomplish my shirred panel, I doubled the width of my CB bodice piece and cut 2 on fold: one as the CB main and the other as the CB lining. I sewed the two CB pieces together along the top only, RST, and under stitched the seam allowance to the lining. I pressed the CB main and lining together WST and marked rows at 3/8” apart from the top of the bodice down to the seam allowance on the right side of the CB main. Man, I hope I’m not confusing ya but if i am…. sooowwwwyyyy!

Shirring requires elastic thread in the bobbin, but regular upper thread. Machine-winding the bobbin is not recommended in this case, so I hand-wound my elastic, trying my best not to overstretch it. I sewed 5 whole rows of stitching (at a 4.5 stitch length) before I realized that something wasn’t right. The bodice wasn’t gathering as anticipated and I noticed that the elastic was wavy. My guess is that the elastic was too loose… so I had to unpick it and adjust my tension. As you can imagine, that was NOT fun! In the end, I used an entire spool of elastic thread just for this project and ended up with 15 lines of shirring! My favourite part of this foray into shirring, was watching the panel shrink up when steamed! It’s safe to say that I’ll definitely be trying more shirring…but I need to source more elastic thread first lol. 

I wanted this dress to fall just above my knee so I shortened the gathered skirt by a whopping 6 inches [for reference I’m 5’8.5” without heels]. I wanted side seam pockets in this skirt, and I borrowed the ones from the Sew Liberated Estuary Skirt, because they are huge!!! If you don’t believe me grab a copy of the pattern and check them out for yourself (then use them millions of times!) I did have to make a small adjustment to the pocket pattern in order for it to be flush with the skirt waist. It’s such a small adjustment but necessary to prevent the pocket from twisting in an undesirable way! 

My last adjustment, has become a norm when working with straps. For those who don’t already know, I have sloping shoulders and I absolutely hate when my straps constantly slip off my shoulders. A while back, I decided to try feeding elastic through my straps to help them stay on my shoulders; it worked and now every time I do shoulder straps, I add elastic to them! Feel free to give this a try, and let me know how it works out for ya!

In case you were wondering, the fabric I used for this piece is a cotton poplin, border-print from Mood Fabric. I really like how the animal print gets denser toward the selvedge and I kept this is mind when laying and cutting out my pattern pieces. For the buttons, I went for some small orange ones I already had in my stash. I thought they were the puuuurrrfffeecct complement to the orange spots in the animal print.  

I ended up wearing this dress out to lunch with my husband for his birthday! I paired it with a brown and gold belt, gold accessories and brown and gold sandals. My outfit felt fresh, and it was definitely comfortable so hey! it’s a win from me. The only adjustment I think I’ll make to this one is to reduce the width of the CB panel just a bit. Even with so many rows of shirring, I think doubling the CB resulted in a looser fit in the bodice than I typically like, and the dress was just a tad loose at the underarm area. I know, I know… small potatoes! 

If you forget everything else you’ve read today, just remember:

‘when it’s nice, you gotta do it twice!’

Gotta luv ya and leave ya…

Until next time.



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