Yesterday I printed out this tutorial and made a dress with some Henry Glass bicycle print fabric. I supplemented the tutorial with some reading from a few different sewing books: a Butterick book from the 1970s that Geoff's mother lent me, two different editions of Vogue Sewing, and the section on shirring from a fabulous book I found called The Yestermorrow Clothes Book (which is all about altering secondhand clothing and is a real treasure). Really, though, there isn't that much to it, but here are a few things I will keep in mind for the next time -- and there will most certainly be a next time, because this is so easy and so satisfying and I can't wait to wear my dress while drinking coffee on a cabin porch.
Cut the fabric on the bias. I think this is the most important thing, because as the dress is made of two rectangles with no shaping, and because I used cotton, the dress does not drape or hang as well as it could. I think the Vogue books said shirring on the bias produces the best results, as well. I should have followed this advice from the beginning as it has the weight of Vogue behind it. Ha.
Mark placement lines for shirring. Do not estimate. It is not worth rushing through.
Wind the elastic thread tightly, but not too tightly. If it's too tight the bobbin will dance around a lot and the top thread might get caught in it. And then you'll have to pull out all the thread from the line you were shirring and start over (this is the voice of experience talkin').
I spaced out my lines of shirring by placing three lines 1/4" apart, then another three lines 1" apart from those, etc. I think lines placed maybe 3/4" apart or even 1" apart would look better.
The only things I did differently from the tutorial were that I made a dress rather than a blouse (so the width of my fabric accounted for my hip measurement rather than my chest measurement), I made tubes for the straps, and I put the straps on at the end rather than at the beginning.