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Khamis, 18 Jun 2009

Shirring tutorial

Below is a tutorial on how to smock/shirr with elastic thread. Before we begin, I must mention that this is a compilation of smock/shirring techniques which I have learned from 3 specific resources: Portabellopixie, Craftstylish, and Heather Ross's book Weekend Sewing.

And away we go.......


~ 1 spool of elastic thread
~ matching thread (must match your fabric)
~ fabric (i used Robert Kaufman's
Kona Cotton Celery)
~ 1/4" elastic (optional)


1. Finish the upper raw edge of the bodice. I like to finish it by making a casing for a 1/4" elastic band. If you have 2 separate pieces (bodice and skirt) sewn together, you can turn the seam allowance into a casing for an additional band of elastic at the waist line. Simply finish the raw edge of the seam allowance and sew the edge of the SA to the bodice. After I have shirred the fabric, I then thread the elastic through the casing. This helps maintain and reinforce the shape of the garment. For now, just make the casing or finish the raw edges.

You may want to mark your shirring lines on the fabric before you begin. Its recommended to mark every 1/4" to 1/2". I use my sewing foot to mark it (eyeball it), which works just fine for me and eliminates a step. If you are going to mark your fabric, mark the right side of the garment (visible side of the garment). Also, use tailors chalk, disappearing fabric ink, or some sort of erasable mark.

2. Wind the bobbin by hand with the elastic thread. It is very important not to stretch the elastic thread as you wind it. This is why you must do it by hand. There can not be any tension in the elastic thread.

3. Insert your bobbin into your sewing machine as you normally would.

4. Pull up the elastic thread as you normally would for regular bobbin thread.

5. I like to shirr with my walking foot. If you do not have a walking foot, then a regular foot will be just fine. With the right side of your garment facing up (elastic thread should be on the side that will not be visible on the completed garment), begin to take a few stitches, then back stitch to secure your thread. Stitch from one end to the other.

7. When you get to the end of your first row of stitches, back stitch and clip the threads. Turn the garment and begin sewing your next row the same way you did the first row. Another option (which is quicker) is when you get to the end of your first row of stitches, lift the presser foot, move the fabric over so that the needle is positioned over the next row. Lower the presser foot and needle. Pivot the fabric. Begin sewing the next row of stitches.

Always back stitch when you come to the end of the elastic thread and make sure you have enough thread to complete a row. You may notice your first couple of rows don't gather as much as you'd like. Don't worry. As you continue to stitch more rows, your garment will gather more.

8. When you have completed shirring/smocking your garment, spray it with water. You will see your garment gather up nice and tight. Press your garment gently. Do not smooth the iron over the garment. Lightly press the gathers.

9. Thread your elastic through the casing/casings.

10. Stitch the elastic band ends to the garment.

That's it!
You're a shirr genius!

Happy Creating



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