This was my "really hopeful" dress, that didn't turn out well enough for me to really wear in public, but knowing what I learned from it, it might be useful for some adventurous soul out there!! For now, it's the last of the Maternity Fashion series (I can't believe I've got nearly 2 weeks of posts here!!) although there is one more dress I keep MEANING to try... so maybe I'll get to making it, photographing myself in it, and actually posting it before I'm not pregnant anymore! There's also the "hybrid pant" I should probably make myself too...
Anyway... this was a test run for a maxi-dress that never really happened. It started as a major experiment (that failed too miserably to share) and turned into a fabulous dress to beat around the house with and was SUPER cool this summer!!
Things to note that would have made this a success:
1) No matter how many rows of shirring you use... your fabric will only shrink by half.
2) Make the finished shirred measurement slightly SMALLER than you are around so it fits snugly where you want it to.
This top is almost the same as the top I used for the cowl-neck dress, except that it isn't cowled! It has a high neck in the back, and a scooped neck in the front, with 2 layers of knit for each, sewn together at the neck and arm-holes and turned inside out for finished neck and arm edges (use a stretch stitch for those). To form the shoulders, I turned the back inside out, and pulled the front through until the raw edges met, then sewed straight across with a straight stitch. then I pulled the back right-side-out again, lined up "right sides together" and straight-stitched the side seams of the bodice. You can use a well-fitting tee for the pattern if you have one.
For the skirt, I SHOULD have measured my rib-cage measurement (or the bodice measurement) and multiplied by 1.75, and then made a giant rectangle that width and the length I wanted the skirt (plus an inch for a finished edge, which I do like on this dress) and THEN shirred it. There are plenty of tutorials on-line for shirring fabric, but the basic run-down, is to hand-wind a bobbin with elastic thread, and sew straight lines across your fabric in a few rows (at least 4). When you're done shirring the skirt top, turn the bodice inside out, insert the skirt so all the raw edges are together, and using a stretch stitch, attach them. It's a good idea here to "overlock" (with a serger, a stitch and cut foot, or just a zig-zag over the edge) that seam so that it lies nicely after washing ;).
Then hem the bottom! You can use a stretch stitch, a double needle, or just straight stitch it, since it's a wide-based skirt.
You can PROBABLY make this dress in cotton vs. a knit too! To make it so you can pull it over your head, add an extra 3"? to the back panel, and before sewing it to the skirt, shirr 6" in rows down the middle - you'll get a shirred detail on the back, and give yourself some "give" room to pull it over your shoulders!
This type of dress can be made for little ones too - and if you want a better pattern, find a tank made of about the same material as you plan on working with and use it to build a bodice!