How to Create Elastic Shirringcomments (29) November 27th, 2008
You've seen elastic shirring on shirts and dresses in stores, but did you know you can do it yourself? The trick is to use elastic thread in your bobbin, and a simple straight stitch becomes a magical shirring stitch! This is a very versatile treatment that you'll find all kinds of uses for, and it works great on both knits and wovens. I love how beautifully it gathers up the fabric but still stretches for comfort and ease in putting the garment on. I'm going to take you through the steps on a knit raglan-sleeve tunic I'm making, but feel free to try it out on a cuff, the waist of a dress, or the hem of a T-shirt...it's perfect for all those restyling projects, too!
You'll need to get yourself some elastic thread before you begin. Most sewing stores carry it in white and black, and Gutermann makes it in a few colors. But since the elastic thread will only be on the wrong side, you don't have to worry too much about it matching your fabric.
1. Mark your garment where you want to place the shirring. Usually it's done in multiple rows to give it more gathering power; one row can't always pull the fabric in enough, unless it's very lightweight. I'm putting five rows of shirring around the neckline of a raglan-sleeve shirt, so I've marked (with chalk) five lines, beginning 1/2 inch from the neckline edge and 1/2 inch apart on the right side (the side I'll be looking at as I stitch). I'll be leaving my actual neckline a raw edge, but don't forget to add a seam allowance (or hem your edge first) if you plan to finish yours.
2. Wind the elastic thread onto your bobbin. You'll do this by hand, with slight tension on the thread as you wind. It won't work if you try to do it on your machine, trust me! It won't take as long as you think, though, because the elastic is much thicker than regular thread and it will fill the bobbin pretty quickly.
3. Thread your machine with the elastic bobbin you just wound and your usual sewing thread on top. Now you're ready to begin sewing!
4. Beginning in a discreet area, such as a shoulder seam, place your garment under the presser foot of your machine, starting with the marked line closest to the edge. I used a straight stitch set at 3 mm. Backstitch about 1/2 inch to secure the elastic, and begin stitching around, following your marked line. Your first row of stitching should go pretty smoothly. When you've stitched all the way around and arrived back where you began, overlap your stitching about 1/4 inch, and backstitch again to secure. At this point, I just lift the presser foot and move over to the next line, without cutting my threads. For this next row, you will need to stretch out the previous shirring so that the fabric lies flat as you stitch over it. This will keep the rate of shirring even between all the rows. Repeat until you've completed all of your rows, then clip your threads.
|The more rows of shirring you sew, the more gathered your garment will be.
That's really all there is to it! Experiment with different numbers of rows and the spacing width between rows. On wovens, a rolled hem is the best finish if you're shirring close to the edge. Have fun and show us how you use it!