Monday, May 20

Me and the Staple Dress

In the last few weeks I saw lots of Staple dresses pop up on crafty blogs I read. I have never made a dress before but this dress looked so versatile and it seemed to me that it would be quite easy to make as well.  I bought  the PDF pattern (design by April Rhodes), a couple of yards of fabric and other notions from a local store and started sewing... Well not quite, I first printed the PDF out on the wrong scale (entirely my fault not the pattern!) After that I had to stick 24 printed pages together to make the pattern. Which quite honestly is the only downside to this pattern. The pattern is well written and if you read the instructions carefully you can hardly go wrong with it. There are two versions (both in the same pattern) one for a 'dropped' hem (longer on the back) and one for a straight hem (which I made). I also think that the finish is really lovely with the French seams (which hide the raw fabric edges so you don't have to zig-zag or whatever).

I took my measurements to figure out what size I should make. As my measurements translated into two different sizes for the top and the lower half of the dress I wimped out and chose the Medium size. The patterned fabric, a soft light weight cotton, was especially selected for it's capability to hide mistakes that I assumed would be made. It was a bit confusing (to me at least) that I couldn't tell the 'right' side from the 'wrong' side of the fabric. This resulted in my first mistake: sewing the side seams together the wrong way. I think I even already had made a neat French seam on one side when I realised my mistake. With this fabric making the French seams was a bit of a nightmare anyway as it was hard to press open 1/8" seams.

Adding the neck facing turned out to be the most difficult part of the process for me. The first facing I had cut and tried to sew on really didn't fit so I cut another one on the bias to give it a bit more stretch. I then finished by top stitching on the wrong side (as you do..) It's hardly noticeable though so I'm not too bothered about it.

Beforehand I thought the biggest challenge would be adding the shirring in the waist. I bought elastic thread which you must wind loosely on the bobbin by hand. I tested it and there was no gathering of the fabric at all. In the end (tip from the pattern, apparently it varies per machine) I wound it on the bobbin really tight. Tested it, it was fine. Did the shirring on the dress and it hadn't gathered at all. I then wound the elastic thread on the bobbin extra, extra tight and simply added another shirring line 1/4" above the first non-gathered line and it worked so well!

I'm really happy with my Staple Dress and I'm glad to have learned a few new skills like making French seams and shirring. I also learned that pressing your fabric throughout the process is really important. Can't wait to make another Staple Dress! You can buy the pattern here and find more examples of the dress here.


  1. Really surprised you had trouble with the shirring. I have only done this once and i used a hand wound loose bobbin.

    Did you lengthen the stitch, I use 5? Did you steam it after sewing? That really makes it tighten up. There are lots of videos out there and most say to hand wind the bobbin.

    1. According to the pattern some machines handle this type of thread better than others. Apparently my machine (I have a Husqvarna) needed a different approach (winding the bobbin really tight) and it worked in the end. Once it works it is really easy to do yes. :)

    2. oh and I will try lengthening the stitch next time too!


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