I've been busy recently making more little dresses for Dress A Girl Around The World. Someone asked about using shirring elastic, and as I have made several dresses using this method I thought you might like to see what I did.
I cut one straight piece of fabric 102cm wide by 61cm long, and four pieces 51cm long by 4cm wide. Taking the large piece I stitched a tiny hem at the top using a fancy machine stitch. This gives a pretty ruffle effect when the dress is finished.
Measure 8cm down from the hem and mark seven lines for the shirring (on the front of the fabric). Loosely thread your bobbin with shirring elastic and the needle with thread. Slowly sew across the fabric. When you reach the end carefully draw out a few cms of thread and elastic then turn and sew across the next line. (I found that I could stitch three rows before I needed to fasten off and refill the bobbin.)
Now add a ribbon or lace trim if desired to the skirt. Join the single back seam with a French seam. This makes for a neater finish. (A French seam is stitching a small seam down the length with the wrong sides together, then turn wrong-side out and stitch the seam again, encasing the raw edges.)
Turn up and stitch a small hem at the bottom of the dress. Then stitch the straps along the length enclosing one end. Turn right-side out. This can be a bit tricky, see the note below.
Hand stitch the straps (seam inside) tucking the raw open edge under slightly. Start and finish the stitching just below the top hem to leave the ruffle free.
You can choose to press the straps flat or leave as a rouleau. Press the skirt, but don't press the shirring. Just hover your steam iron over the shirring, which will tighten it up.
In this photo you can clearly see the before and after effect of hovering the steam iron over the shirring.
And here's a view of the finished dress - hope you like it.
By the way - don't spend money on expensive Loop Turners to make the straps. I used a drinking straw and a chopstick! Slide the straw down inside to the stitched end of the strap, gently push the chopstick into the end of the straw and slide the fabric up over the chopstick. Simple!