Primrose Dress | Shirring with a Brother

Primrose Dress | Shirring with a Brother

The long awaited Primrose Dress! It took me forever to get photos for you; it’s cold out there baby!!

Primrose Dress | SewsNBows

But here it is. The Primrose dress is a PDF pattern from Create Kids Couture.

Primrose Dress pattern by Create Kids Couture | SewsNBows

It features 4 ruffled tiers that give this dress a lot of body and volume. I used a fabric that’s slightly heavier than quilting cotton. I’ve seen this pattern sewn in satins and cottons with nice results too.

Primrose Dress Pattern from CKC | SewsNBows

The tween sized pattern ranges from 7/8 to 15/16. The back bodice is shirred with elastic thread. You can choose from a flat bodice, or use the cup option for girls who have developed a small cup size. The shirring, bigger size range, and bodice options give the Primrose dress an extremely broad fit range.

I love my left handed rotary cutter!

CKC patterns use measurements for ruffles or any applicable pattern pieces. I used to hate measuring and cutting my own pieces until I got my Gingher Left Hand Rotary Cutter

. Now I see why people rave about their rotary cutters. I can actually use this one and get a good, clean cut. Before, I’d have a jagged cut at best, and a high threat of bodily injury to boot.

CKC Primrose dress| Making the bodice

I started by making the bodice front. We added diamond buttons because my model is a sparkly girl. Isabelle chose this fabric from Joann’s, designed her dress, and styled it for this photo-shoot.

Shirring with a Brother: what you need to know first!

Next was the shirred bodice back. I’m using a Brother sewing machine now. Lets just say for the sake of PG-13 that shirring on a Brother is a very different experience. Above, I tried and tried different settings and it just…didn’t shir!

Hubby's Toolbox

Turns out, you have to unscrew your plate, take out the bobbin, remove the bobbin case, and manually adjust the bobbin tension to shir with a Brother. Be sure to count the screwdriver turns, because when you’re done you must turn your screw back exactly where it was, or your automatic tension will be all nuts and your life will be over as-you-know-it.


I ended up stealing a bunch of tools from my husband’s shop, because I couldn’t find the right one in my sewing arsenal. Then I realized that I was turning the wrong screw, and I did have the right tool all along.

Brother Project Runway Model Special Edition

After that, I managed to drop one of my face plate screws down here…and there’s no way to get it out. I’d pick up my machine, turn it upside down, shake it; hoping to get lucky. Then I’d get pissed and walk away, come back later and repeat. It eventually came out, but I’ll never buy another top loading bobbin machine again.

GrosgrainFabulous has a great post about shirring with your Brother, and I found a great shirring video on YouTube. You will need these links if it’s your first time shirring with a Brother machine!

Shirring With a Brother Machine: Things You Should Know

Anyways, after much frustration, I finally did get proper shirring accomplished. It’s not as stretchy as I like, and I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t have the bobbin tension set correctly, or because I used a slightly heavier fabric. I’m too scared to try again and find out! The article I referenced above suggests buying a separate bobbin casing, setting the tension for shirring, and marking it with nail polish. This way you can switch it out for shirring without fear of messing up your automatic tension settings.

Primrose Dress pattern | SewsNBows

My old Singer woulda shirred the heck outta this fabric. It wasn’t as smooth with twin needles though. I’m making mental notes of everything I like and dislike, because my next machine will be a Lamborghini!

Primrose Dress pattern from CKC | SewsNBows

Create Kids Couture has lots of tween sized patterns available. You may like my Tween Sewing Survival Guide if you’re making clothing for this age group.

So your turn. Any gripes about your sewing machines?

Primrose Dress | SewsNBows

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase a pattern from my links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

About The Author

Amy Mayen

Hello. I'm Amy and I'm addicted to sewing. I borderline-hoard fabric, buttons, & patterns. Sometimes I wish I could pile my fabric up on the floor and just roll in it!


  1. Audrey

    Never tried shirring before…but I love the look, so I’ll have to add it to the list. My one complaint with my Husqvarna is that it doesn’t wind the bobbin right unless I physically hold the bobbin on with my finger, which makes for one hot finger!
    Audrey recently posted…Challenge Create: Adult Edition JudgesMy Profile

  2. Donna

    Wow! Amy this is gorgeous! I don’t think I would have the patience to have done all that shirring especially with machine troubles. Good for you. I also am not sure I am looking forward to sewing for tweens again. It was hard enough the first time. Wink Wink

  3. Pam @Threading My Way

    My next machine will not be a Brother thanks to your great sales pitch!!! The shirring looks good from where I’m sitting, but if you want it tighter next time, try increasing the stitch length. A fabulous looking dress!!!
    Pam @Threading My Way recently posted…Make a Fabric Basket…My Profile

  4. Annie

    That is a gorgeous dress, Amy! But I can see how Bella may not want all those ruffles ;)
    I did not know shirring can be so complicated. Luckily I do not have to take apart my sewing machine to adjust tension. My inexpensive Singer machine has been good to me, and I am hoping it will stay that way as long as it can…because I cannot afford the Lamborghini of the sewing machine!

  5. thisblogisnotforyou

    Such a lovely dress (and model)! Wow, I didn’t know that it’s so complicated to shir with a Brother sewing machine. I’ve got a cheapo sewing machine and didn’t have to make any adjustments. The pattern is really awesome, but it looks like it’s a fabric eater!
    thisblogisnotforyou recently posted…Leather Bag Making-OfMy Profile

  6. Amy of while wearing heels

    Another amazing creation. I’m so impressed, as usual. Again, I feel like I need a sewing dictionary next to me when reading your posts. I’ve never shirred. That rotary cutter of yours looks really fancy. I love fancy tools. And, I am impressed you were able to take something apart on your machine and put it back together again and it still worked. I’m great at taking apart…not so great at putting back together.
    Amy of while wearing heels recently posted…SWAPSMy Profile

  7. Gina

    This dress turned out awesome Amy!!! Who knew that different machines stirred different and what an ordeal! I would be so nervous about messing up my tension…I guess you did it right since your life as you know it isn’t over!!!!! Did you hit the elastic with steam from your iron? Stirring isn’t complete until you have and it shirs it up like magic. When I have done shirring it just looks like regular sewing when I take it off the machine but then I hit it with steam and presto! Just like magic the elastic bunches up. The dress looks gorgeous on Isabelle!!! Have a great week!!
    Gina recently posted…Flashback Friday: The Soccer DaysMy Profile


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