It started out as the Emma dress, but after I realized how short it was, it became the Emma-top! I've been wanting to do some elastic thread shirring and even bought a big cone of elastic thread. I looked at all kinds of tutorials on line. I have done this before, but on a different machine. It was a whole different story. With my top loading bobbin on the BabyLock, I had to take the needle plate cover off every time I had to change the bobbin. And for using fabric 44" wide, I could do about 2 and a half lines of stitching, and then I would have to change the bobbin.
Another alternative would be to zigzag over the bobbin. I found a cording foot in my arsenal, and this really helped make that job easy. But of course, then you have to try to pull all the elastic threads evenly to get the gathering even. Although I eventually got it done, I think next time I will try doing it on my other machine and see if that works any better. Here is how I made the dress.
- Cut the fabric 2X the desired width (chest circumference X2) You could go 1.5 X as much and use a smaller stitch. Cut the fabric the desired length.
- I originally cut the fabric about 1 yard long. Since I did not have GD here to decide what length to make it, I was worried that it would be too plain as just one piece, so I cut the bodice part about 16" long
- I decided that I wanted ruffles, so I cut the first tier 2X the width of the bottom edge of bodice and the next layer 3X . So, I cut 5 strips 4" x 44"
- Sew 2 of the 4" strips together to make a loop and then sew the other 3 together to make another loop. On both of these loops, mark at 4ths to get your 2 side seams and CF and CB
- Use a narrow hem or rolled hem foot (That's what I did) to finish the top edge of the dress, and bottom edge of the largest loop.
- With elastic thread hand-wound in your bobbin and a longer stitch length (I used a 4), stitch parallel rows 1/2" apart (I just used the edge of my presser foot as a gauge.) Leave long tails on the edges in case you want to tighten up the gathers when you are finished. I ran rows of shirring for about 3-4" parallel to the upper edge. **Be sure to practice this first on a scrap of fabric, since all machines and fabric are different, you will get different results.
- Since my machine was not pulling the gathers tight enough, I adjusted them by hand. This is not easy to do and get it even. I did not think of the zigzag thing until after I was finished.
- Run 2 rows of long stitches along the top edge of both loops in order to gather. I stopped and started stitching at each of the seam allowances to help with the gathering, but do whatever works for you. It's a lot of gathering!
- For the straps I cut one piece 22x3.5" I folded it in half, opened it out and folded the edges into the middle. I then folded it in half again so that the raw edges were enclosed and stitched along the edge. I cut each strap at 11" and marked 1.5" from each edge. This mark was set even to the top of the bodice. You can play around with this and put the straps as far apart or close together as you want.