February 15, 2024

This April, Our Boxes are Going to be Shirred Madness!

Is it just me or did it feel like shirring was everywhere last summer. It felt like I couldn't scroll Instagram without happening upon a tutorial of how to wind your bobbin or fluff the fabric with steam. So, like any good researcher, I stowed away the patterns I saw and waited for the return of good weather to break out this month's theme, which I'm playfully calling Shirred Madness.

This is only the second time we've focused on a technique instead of a garment type, and we've picked patterns that will let you either dip your toe into the elastic thread world or plunge completely in. From a simple elastic back to full shirred waist and cuffs, you can pick your poison and your style. No matter which you pick, though, it will surely be comfortable. The great joy of shirring, once you get past the technical aspects, is how it combines fitted wovens with knit flexibility. It's the best of both worlds. And don't blame us if you want to add shirring to a whole bunch of projects after this one!

For fabrics and colors, I basically immersed myself in my childhood favorite colors. As a kid, I absolutely loved the combination of green and purple. It felt indulgent and posh to me. This month, I've added some medium blue for good measure in cottons, viscose, and tencel for a look that feels lush and vernal. 

So, without further ado, let's dig in!

Sew Essential Box: Trillium Top from Made by Rae

If you're shirring curious, but don't want to get in over your head, the Trillium Top is an excellent place to start. With a band of shirring on the back of the top, in place of an elastic channel, it's just enough of the technique to get comfortable. And yet it makes a huge difference in the fit of the top!

We haven't used Made by Rae patterns before but they have always been on our radar as eminently wearable every day clothes. They are simple and stylish, pieces you'll wear the heck out of because they are so versatile. The Trillium Top is no exception. Between the empire waist, the cute pleats, and the shirred back, this top can be worn with jeans, shorts, trousers; under blazers or as a beach cover-up. It's a basic you'll wonder how you ever survived without!

We wanted to keep it simple with fabric to show off the A-line shape, so we stuck to light cottons, challis, and a gorgeous tencel that we just HAD to use. So here they are!

  • Azure Blue Cotton Batiste - As sewists, we may often gravitate towards bold prints or luxury linens, but there is something so natural and comforting about a crisp cotton. This voile, lightly crisp and wonderfully light, has a drape that will work perfect for the pleats and shirring of this top. The silky hand and delicate volume matches the empire waist, plus the bright azure blue is like a gorgeous sky in the summer. Be your own perfect day when you wear this fantastic fabric!
  • Pine Winterberry Rayon Challis - The lightest of the three options, this rayon challis is all about the print. A deep green background swims with delicate branches and sweet, green berries. The tone on tone coloring keeps the look from feeling cutesy and gives it an almost Victorian wallpaper vibe (minus the arsenic). The green feels ideal for spring sewing and the rayon will keep the top light and flowing. What's not to love?
  • Royal Purple Gingham Tencel - You may be used to ginghams with white checks, the classic Wizard of Oz combo, but when we saw this tone on tone purple check, we had to have it. In a silky tencel thread, the gingham is quite unlike anything we've seen. A supple drape and soft hand make it idea for this empire top. Plus you could even play with the bias on the top bodice. Just imagine!

Sew Select Box: Mabel Dress from Tilly and the Buttons

I can't believe how long it has been since we used a Tilly and the Buttons pattern! When I first started sewing, they were my go-to pattern company, but as the pattern world has expanded, I've drifted away a bit. Then, last year they released the Mabel Dress and they were back on my radar. 

The Mabel looks like comfort in a woven dress. The shirred waist and cuffs means that it will flex and move with you and the simple elasticized neckline means easy fitting. And knowing Tilly and the Buttons, the instructions for everything will be clear and easy to follow! This dress is perfect for spring parties, graduations, and basically anywhere you want to wear an elegant, swishy dress. Personally, we would just twirl around in our living room in it.

The voluminous style of the dress lends itself to drapey, almost fluid fabrics, so we stuck to rayons and viscose in our trilogy of green, purple, and blue. But don't worry, we kept them interesting with unexpected patterns and textures. Let's dive in!

  • Deep Atlantic Rayon Poplin - Normally this poplin comes in bold prints that we have swooned over in the past, but we recently discovered a line of solids that has us over the moon. A tighter weave than a challis, this poplin is opaque and deeply saturated. Plus, the deep, dreamy green is timeless and jewel-toned. A gorgeous fabric!
  • Petal Plum Ecovero Crepe - From Mind the Maker, a new addition to our repertoire, this fabric is deep and rich, with modern, almost abstract florals. Red, blue, and cream petals float across the deep plum background, adding just enough pattern too keep it interesting. The fabric itself is silky and drapey, as all good crepes should be, and will match the twirliness of this gorgeous pattern. A match made in heaven!
  • Uffizi Ceruleo Rayon Challis - A few months ago, we used a viscose challis with a snake and a beetle, this time, we're opting for peacocks and terns. This rayon challis draws inspiration from Florentine frescos and Renaissance colors for a fabric that is wonderfully unique. The sky blue is light and serene while the black and birds as well as the earth toned branches add pops of color and character. When used as fabric for the sweeping skirt and billowy shape of this dress, we think it's a stunning canvas indeed!

Sew Indulgent Box: Philomena Dress from Style Arc

There is something effortlessly elegant about the cut of the Philomena Dress. The pointed empire waist, with a shirred inset, contrasts perfectly to the v-neck and adds waist-shaping and bodice definition, while the shirred cuff creates volume and drape. It reminds me of a princess style I was enamored with as a child, and personally I could absolutely see Kate Middleton wearing a similar dress.

But the shirring on this dress is really the highlight, a stylistic choice that creates texture and shape in addition to stretch and movement. It's a classic example of how sewing techniques can be both beautiful and useful, practical and embellished. We see this dress at graduations, brunches, cocktail parties, and office. It's a confidence-boosting dress that you may not wear every day but you're proud to have in your wardrobe. And sometimes you need that.

To match the luxurious style of the dress, we have a trove of truly special fabrics. Cupro, viscose, and ecovero in saturated colors and unexpected patterns. Better to show you than describe them to you, so here they are!

  • Night Waterlily Viscose Crepe - From Atelier Brunette's recent collection, this fabric is a burst of color. This year, the fabric designers have embraced dark, deep tones, and we love them for it. Dark greens, purples, and blues contrast with violet and red-orange for a truly unique pattern. The fabric is silky and supple, a perfect match for the draped style of this dress, and it will shirr beautifully. A statement dress if there ever was one!
  • Denim Blue Sandwashed Cupro - We love this viscose/cupro fabric, our favorite alternative to silk. Because of the cupro, it looks almost exactly like washed silk, but it's not dry clean only and has a little more body, making it easier to sew. Plus the color! A rich, medium blue prepares us for summer skies and warm pools. A gorgeous fabric!
  • Bottle Green Polka Dot Viscose Crepe - We may have taken polka dot inspiration from Style Arc's sample photo, but, if you ask us, we upped the ante with a truly fantastic color pairing. The deep green, almost pine colored, is rich and romantic, in contrast to the large blush pink circles that dot the fabric. A scattered style, far apart, gives a sense of volume and space to the fabric and it will match the long line of the dress so well. We can't wait to see it all sewn up!

In keeping with the arrival of spring, we're bringing back our Cottage Core boxes from last April. Funnily enough, they also feature greens and blues, but in pastels appropriate for the style. If you want to embrace a more pastoral look for your dress, this theme is for you!

Until next time. . .

Happy sewing!



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