inserting a shirred back panel

i know summer sewing is winding up, but i recently became addicted to shirring and wanted to show you how i incorporated it into dresses for two of my girls recently. it turns out, adding a shirred panel to the back of a dress is pretty easy.

here’s a pictorial (with poor lighting… sorry. one day i’ll remedy this situation.)

i have cut the panel to be shirred out of the shell and
lining, stitched and understitched at the top

sew rows of shirring at 1/4-1/2″ intervals

stitch down each side, back stitching several times over each elastic

finish the raw edges and snip the extra threads

i have the rest of the bodice sewn, however you could
just have the back side panels by themselves

pin shirring to bodice shell, lining up the top edges

pull the lining over the shirred panel, pin and stitch

trim and snip the top corner

pull the shirred panel out, turning the bodice right side out

repeat on other side

attach the skirt and finish the waist seam allowance

sew narrow elastic to the skirt seam allowance

back stitch both ends to secure

no more wavy edge

hidden waist elastic

all done!

i should note, you can also make a casing at the lower edge of the shirred panel to feed elastic through instead of zig-zagging in the seam allowance. the kids dresses turned out great. so great that i decided i needed to make something similar for myself. i’ll show all the finished dresses in another post because this one has enough pics as it is!


okay, not really. but i just want to put this out there. i will be making a winter coat this year. i was chatting with my lovely sister who also sews and i mentioned that i need a new coat and really want to sew one this year. she mentioned that she also would like to make one and i said she and i can have a little sew-a-long to help each other through it. then i figured, why not take this public? i don’t plan to offer expert advise (because i have none) but i thought if anyone else out there is sewing up a winter coat, we can all hold hands and do this together!

i don’t plan to start this project until late-ish september and probably have a finished coat by mid-ish october. so if anyone is inspired to join in, i thought i’d put this out there plenty early. so there you have it. a winter coat not-quite-sew-a-long! feel free to spread the message on your own blogs, i completely welcome the advice and knowledge of those who have already ventured into coat-making territory!

—lisa g.

11 thoughts on “inserting a shirred back panel

  1. Katie M says:

    I realise you posted this quite a while ago, but I had a quick question. I’m drafting a quick dress pattern for my girls, and to make things easier (and avoid the hassle of zips), I want to make the back panel shirred. Do you have any advice on how much wider you should cut the fabric than the actual panel width. Some bloggers suggest 1.5x and some suggest 2x. I’m working with a medium-light weight cotton, and don’t plan to line it.

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