A technique that I really love for sewing maternity wear is shirring with elastic thread.
You’ve probably noticed it in little girls clothing a lot, and perhaps in the back of women’s dresses. It’s a wonderful technique as it not only looks cute, but allows a lot of “give” and shape in your clothing.
Want to learn how to do it?
Here’s what you do:
1) Start with some elastic thread and an empty bobbin
2) Take the elastic thread and wind the bobbin by hand. Make sure that you don’t wind it too loosely or too lightly, you do not want to stretch the thread as you wind.
3) Once you are done winding, put the bobbin in the machine as you ordinarily would. Set your machine to straight stitch, and the longest stitch length you have.
4) Mark on your fabric where you would like your lines of shirring to be. I used tailors chalk.
5) Now the first row. The important thing to remember is to sew on the right side of the fabric (ie outside of the garment) as you want the elastic thread to be concealed inside. You may notice it doesn’t gather up as much as you would expect initially, don’t worry about that, that’s part of the process and we’ll fix it later. Just make sure that it has gathered up a bit and that there is a little bit of stretch in the stitches.
6) Continue sewing the next rows of shirring, and make sure that you flatten out the fabric as you sew the consecutive rows.
7) There are two ways you can begin and end off your stitches. You can either tie off the ends of the thread (this is the most secure method) or you can simply backstitch (this isn’t as secure, but often works just as well, and is quicker)
To tie off the stitches, simply thread your loose end through a needle, and push it through to the other side. Then tie a knot (or two or three if you’re paranoid like me)
It should look like this from the outside now:
8) Once you have sewn all rows of shirring then it’s time to tighten up that elastic! Turn your fabric the wrong way round, so that the elastic thread is now facing upwards. Spray the fabric & elastic with water, and then iron over the top it. This helps the elastic recover a bit and tightens up those rows of shirring. (it’s my favourite part!)
**Note** If you have trouble (ie it isn’t gathering at all or if there isn’t stretch in the stitches) then you may need to adjust your machines tension, or flip your bobbin around to be in the bobbin casing the other way. Some machines settings need a little tweaking before it works properly!
I hope you enjoyed learning about shirring, because I’ll be back soon with a tutorial using this technique!! XOXO
ps. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway that’s currently running! Only a few more days to enter :)