A Dress with Teeth…

Galarija Mestrovic… and a back story too.

1t SharkeezMy son turned 4 just after my daughter was born so the preparation for his birthday party in the year 2004 were somewhat bare bones.  Luckily, in the supermarket I found the best birthday cake ever!  It was very blue with the icing made to look like the sea and, swimming in it, a shark!  And dotted around, arms and legs.

The cake was very popular, not just for the torn limbs and the shark.  If you ever find yourself entertaining and want to drive your guests wild*, may I recommend you serve artificially coloured blue food?!  Wanting to repeat this serendipitous success, I’ve looked for Shark Attack Cake many birthdays since but the supermarkets no longer sell it and the shop assistants, when asked, look doubtful that it ever existed.

1 dress with teethHowever, a while back in Goldhawk Road, I found a fabric that immediately made me recall the fabled, gruesome product.  I bought it to make my son a Hawaiian shirt or some Bermudas but after suggesting this a couple of times, I got the impression he was totally indifferent to the idea.   So instead, for her 10th birthday I made my daughter a dress.

It’s basically two rectangles, the total width at least double the waist measurement plus seam allowances.  The dress is held up by two sets of rouleau  strips. The top edge is first finished with a rolled hem (I used a zigzag stitch, which looks like little teeth!).

Rouleau strips and zigzag roll hem

 The shirring begins 1.5cm below bodice edge, though with a toddler or a smaller person, you can start at 1.2cm and if making for an adult, then 2cm might be more in proportion, depending on the person.  The rows of shirring here are spaced 1.5cm apart, though once again, you should keep this in proportion if you’re making a dress for an adult.  And there’s no reason why the same ‘pattern’ couldn’t be used for a shirred bodice of a maxi dress.

Shark dress with extra teethYou might want to trim your dress with some teeth like I did.  I used two strips of bias in a silvery grey and bagged them after lots of zigzagging.  It added a few hours to the project which were worth it as this definitely gives the dress an edge!

If you’ve never tried shirring, it’s easy: normal thread on top, shirring elastic wound into the bobbin.  Experiment with scraps to get the right tension then draw your lines onto the right side of fabric and sew.

Tip: to keep the elastic inside bobbin when you begin winding, affix the end of elastic thread to the top of the bobbin case with a tiny sliver of Magic Tape.

Tip: don’t use grandma’s shirring elastic that you inherited with her haberdashery box.  Elastic has a shelf life so buy fresh!

My daughter wore the dress so much all summer that its red has begun to fade!  She wore it on the day of my son’s 14th birthday when we visited the Aquarium in my home town.  And look what happened there!  My dad got eaten by a shark…

Nice to be back!

1 Tata

* Note: in some countries, blue artificial food colouring is illegal!

13 thoughts on “A Dress with Teeth…

  1. Welcome back! I was only thinking the other day that I ought to send you a little message to make sure you hadn’t fallen over and been eaten by cats or something.
    Anyway, I don’t believe you that shirring – which sounds like a word you’d say after too many glasses of wine – is easy. What happens when the first couple of rows are shirred ? Surely that makes it difficult to ‘shirr’ (no, can’t be a verb) the following rows in a straight line.

    • What happens when the first couple of rows are, ahem, shirred?
      I should have thought to mention that. You pull (stretch) the already shirred section as you make new rows and keep to the marked (chalked) lines as your guide. It’s easier than it sounds, less so if the fabric is delicate. I’ve tried it with silk chiffon and it was not feasible beyond a few rows.

  2. p.s. Didn’t they remove blue smarties at one time in the U.K.? Although I’m sure I’ve seen blue M&Ms. Cheaper than wine but possibly more harmful?

  3. Oh don’t mind us down here in Oz who are dealing with sharks on a daily basis! My husband went for a swim out to the shark net a couple of days ago, only to find it hadn’t been put up yet for the summer. He swam back mighty fast! I love that your daughter likes the shark print. The dress is super cute and quirky.

    • Well, that’s one of the most exotic comments I’ve read on here!

      I was going to say that whenever I hear of a shark death on the news, I remember the cake and feel guilty.

  4. Opps, missed this post, but agree its great to see you back to blogging. This is such a funny story (the shark cake I mean), a great textile and the teeth at the hem a master stroke.

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