Poor Man's Smocking
This cutie is my cousin Allyson's little girl, and she is sporting Allyson's awesome handiwork. So great, isn't it?! Allyson calls this kind of shirring "poor man's smocking" and it is the perfect project for summer, and especially a great thing to attempt if you are intimidated by sewing as this top is simple and quick to make.
Here's how you do it: you need ELASTICIZED THREAD (I picked some up at JoAnn's for 90 cents), FABRIC, and NORMAL THREAD.
1. Figuring out size: I am a jimmy-rigger. Here is my very unprofessional technique - hold the fabric up to your little one and see about how long you want your top (or you can make a dress). Plan on the shirring shrinking it up to half its size in both the length and width, so err on the side of BIGGER!
2. Sew the sides together to make a tube (think pillowcase). Hem the top and bottom.
3. Thread the elastic: take an empty bobbin and wind it with your elastic thread. Stick in machine in bobbin spot. For top thread, pick something that looks good with your fabric.
4. Starting at the top of your tube, sew all around it, spiraling down however far you want to (in Allyson's top, she went about six inches). The elasticized thread will scrunch it all up magically. And - very important - Allyson says NOT to panic if it doesn't seem like it's gathering at first. You have to do at least three or four rows before it starts to work. (A variation: you can also, instead of spiraling down, sew a big wavy zig-zag across, keeping the zigs close to each other, if that makes sense. Like the zig-zag pattern on Charlie Brown's shirt).
5. Sew little straps on. And voila!
6. Put on child and feel happy that you just saved yourself some money by making a fab little shirt or dress.