Shirley Shirred by Gracie Steel in Ellie Whittaker Leafy Sea

Have you tried shirring?  This might be the time!  Gracie Steel has just released the Shirley Shirred dress that features a shirred bodice and a gathered skirt. We joined the testing team to explore this new pattern.

Pattern: Shirley Shirred by Gracie Steel

The pattern includes a range of options a fully shirred bodice, milkmaid style (not shirring across the bust) and a combination of skirt designs with a dropped waist, v yoke with a regular seam or exposed ruffle. We created the fully shirred v front bodice with v yoke skirt.

Fabric: Ellie Whittaker Leafy Sea in Pink

The pattern called for opaque light/medium-weight wovens with good drape such as linen, cotton, viscose, silk. We wanted to create a fun Summer dress so chose this Ellie Whittaker Leafy Sea Cotton Poplin in pink.

Finished Make

We would highly recommend including the option of including a channel for the elastic around the waist. As you are combining two varying pieces of material, a gathered skirt and a shirred bodice there is nothing that pulls the material into the body, both have movement and a tendency to stretch.

Photo Credits

Pattern: Shirley Shirred by Gracie Steel
Fabric: Ellie Whittaker Leafy Sea in Pink

Adrift Shift dress pattern by Gracie Steel constructed by Two Sewing Sisters

Adrift Shift Dress by Gracie Steel

We were excited to be invited to be part of the testing team for the new pattern release from Gracie Steel.  This dress is a great beginner make with a loose fit.  It has simple bust darts and a tie feature at the top of the centre-back keyhole.

Adrift Shift Dress Design

Adrift Shift Dress by Gracie Steel

The Adrift Shift Dress sewing pattern is a classic and timeless shift dress. This shape was a staple of the 60s and continues to stand the test of time.

The swing bodice shape features a bust and shoulder dart. You can choose a round neck or sweetheart’s neckline with a back keyhole and tie feature.

Gracie encourages hacking of her patterns but for the pattern testing, we wanted to create the pattern just like the original design with the round neck for the first time we made it. However, we have a few hacks up our sleeve and can’t wait to see the different versions that come through in the #adriftshift on Instagram.


The pattern is described as being suitable for a range of fabrics, both knit and woven, including cotton, linen, and silk or jersey.

We went through our stash to find a fabric looking for a bold print that would be a great showcase for this dress. We came across this canvas from Nerida Hansen that we had purchased at a Finders Keepers Market in Melbourne a few years ago.

When we were testing this pattern the fabric requirements had not been released so we worked out that we would need two lengths of the dress, as we assumed the front and back dress pieces would not fit side by side.

The fabric we found was not quite wide enough to place them side by side. As a result, we made the width of the doubled-over section and were the fold the width of the dress so that we could keep the long length for another project.

Once we had placed the front and back dress pieces we then fitted the facing pieces in around the larger pieces.


The instructions provide great step-by-step instructions for a beginner sewer and a “Super Speedy Construction Summary” for those more familiar with garment construction. If you would like some more support for the construction you can also watch Gracie’s sewing along video on YouTube.

For the back keyhole feature, the facing piece provides great coverage of the seam. It is a great technique to mark the centre backline and then stitch either side of the chalk line before cutting it open.

Finished Adrift Shift Dress

Adrift Shift Dress Details


Photographer: James Christie Media
Pattern: Adrift Shift Dress by Gracie Steel
Fabric: Canvas print from Nerida Hansen