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Topic: Shirring - how does that work?  (Read 3021 times)
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« on: April 11, 2007 09:20:50 PM »

Hi there, Newbie here!  Embarrassed  Dumb first question....

I've seen a couple of references to "shirring" - had to look it up and am still not entirely certain.

It looks like shirring used to mean the sort of gathering (parallel gathers) you do before smocking something, ie gathered up using thread but with the stitches very carefully aligned so the pleats are vertical all the way down.  But nowadays shirring seems to refer to that elasticated gathering you see at the top of little girls' dresses. 

Is that right?  I'm currently making similar dresses by making a casing at the top and putting elastic through - and if I want the shirred effect using lots of parallel lines of elastic.  But it seems to me there ought to be a quicker way.  Can you just sew the elastic on the back?   Is there an attachment for this (cos otherwise I can see it going ping very early on)?  How do you make sure it comes out the right length in the end and gathers up evenly?

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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2007 09:30:55 PM »

here is a good tut for how to do it


I had a few problems with the tute only because I was so new at doing someting like it. My biggest problem was finding "shirring elastic" and I dont know if what I di get was right but its basically just elastic thread.
(kinda like this: http://img.alibaba.com/photo/51369680/Elastic_Thread.jpg )
also I like to have it super gathered looking when its on so I added about 4 inches to my measurements. I messed up a few times because I didnt remember to re-set the tension on my machine as well. I dont use a special foot at all, and its long work but super easy. and make sure you cut your material extra long because it WILL shrink up quite a bit, so do the bottom hem after your all done, otherwise your dress will turn into a shirt like mine did!! Roll Eyes

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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2007 09:49:17 PM »

What you did before smocking was pleating.

You can buy shirring elastic at nearly any fabric store. Not much on there so be prepared to either buy a big roll of it or many small wound spools. You will either hand wind or machine wind a bobbin with this. Some machines don't like it very tight, others like mine only sew when it's machine done tightly. Use any thread in the top like always.

I don't add much, or at times any, extra material depending on the look I'm going for. You can also use this as a waist cincher, around sleeves and the necklines of pheasant tops. You can also use just a tiny line or four to make little gathers in the middle to draw in like a waist tie.

Increase your stitch length to the longest, or nearly the longest, setting on your machine. Increase the pressure a lot! Be sure to pull out the fabric when you go to sew your next line. I place mine the width of my sewing foot. Be sure to back stitch a couple of stitches when you start and end so it doesn't unravel or come undone after wear. When done, steam the heck out of it without actually touching it. It will draw right up and be even tighter when you wash and dry it the first time.

Oh and I don't sew up the outfit before I do the shirring. I do it in the flat then sew it up.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2007 09:50:53 PM by BhamBaby » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2007 05:53:42 AM »

Here is a site that I used: http://www.sewnews.com/resources/qa/qa0506a/.
As already stated the elastic thread can be found at many craft stores, I got mine at walmart for a little under a dollar.

« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2007 06:12:23 AM »

Thanks guys.  Tuts very helpful!  I think I can get hold of shirring elastic, though it will cost me rather more than a dollar!  (I'm in the UK and fabric/haberdashery prices here are terrible!)

So basically you have to try it and see how much gather you get out of it, you can't say "OK I've got 100cm of fabric, I need to shirr it down to 50cm."  As you say, Bham Baby, that's OK if you shirr first and sew up later.  So good to know. 
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2007 07:23:10 AM »

I just discovered something last night for taking in shirring that comes out too big.  I'd whipped up a shirred-top skirt (7 rows of shirring at the top) for my niece, and it kept falling down when she was dancing in it, because the fabric was a little stiff and it didn't "shrink" enough, even after steaming it with the iron.  It would sort of stay up until she bounced around, then it would slide off her.  I didn't think another row of shirring of shirring was going to do anything, so I  was getting annoyed.

Anyway, I ended up taking it off her, and finding some very thin elastic (the next largest width up from cord elastic, i think it's 1/8th inch size).  I stitched 10" of the thin elastic onto the back of the skirt over the middle row of the shirring, stretching the fabric and the elastic as I went.   Tada!  Gave it enough extra stretch to stay up.   Grin Cheesy Grin 

« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2007 04:41:38 AM »

here is the tutorial I've used. I think it is very clearly written http://www.amitymama.com/vb/sewing-mamas/246405-shirring-long.html

« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2007 09:01:09 AM »

Just wanted to let you all know that this info was Really helpful!  I am planning to try shirring asap!


« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2007 10:46:02 AM »

Should have said - very helpful advice on here, I've just made a couple of shirred tops.  Should have posted them in "completed projects" but tbh there are so many pics on there of lovely shirred tops and dresses and I don't think I've done anything particularly new and exciting!  But very successful so thanks to all!
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2007 05:51:14 AM »

I really like to shir and it is pretty easy now. The hardest part was just finding how machine liked it! I had to adjust the tension several times and how tight the bobbin was. Other than that it is how straight of a line you can sew!

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