Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tutorial: How to Shirr

First things first.

Shirring involves elastic thread. You can find elastic thread with the other elastics at your fabric store. It comes on a cardboard tube and costs under $2.00. Nice.

A few pointers about using elastic thread to shirr:
1. You only use it in your bobbin. You use regular thread on top.
2. You wind it BY HAND. It only takes a second. I usually prewind 2 or 3 bobbins before I make a dress.

K. Now that you are all set on that. Let's actually shirr...well almost.

1. Thread the top thread with regular thread. You can get creative with this part. Since you will see this thread you can have it match, contrast, or have each row be different. (I want to make a white dress then have each row of shirring be a different color: red, pink,  yellow, green, cute!)
2. Load your bobbin into your machine. Bring your elastic thread up before you start shirring.

This is the part that varies per machine; the stitch length and machine tension. Some machines you can shirr without changing the length or tension on your machine. Mine doesn't work that way. For my machine I set my length to almost the longest length and I set my tension as high as it will go. You may have to play around. So play around by doing the following:

1. On a scrap, line up the edge of the presser foot with the top edge of your fabric. Hold your loose threads with your hand and start sewing, back stitching a few times. Then continue sewing regularly. When you are done back stitch again. Remove scrap from your machine and clip away threads.

2. Place scrap on machine again, this time lining up the outside edge of your presser foot with the last row of stitching. Repeat the same process from step one.

3. Do this a few more times. Remove your scrap from your machine. Now all you have to do is spray your scrap with water or steam it with your iron.

4. When you are done the elastic will shrink and the result will be adorable. ( I only did two quick rows...see the below picture for the full effect.)

Shirring is such a great skill to learn! If you need further help, check out these other shirring tutorials:

Sandi Henderson's 
(Also available on her blog on her right sidebar about halfway down, it is called 'Shirr Madness'.)
Ruffles and Stuff

So fun and summery! Click on the photo below to see the tutorial for the Sweet Summer Dress!

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