I needed a break from the Knit Shirt of Doom (yes, the Boy is whining about it), and I’ve been meaning to give shirring a try. I want to make myself a shirred tunic top out of the same white crinkle voile as the Boy’s shirt. But I’ve never shirred anything before, certainly not on this machine. And, as is usually the case when I have no idea how something’s going to work, I opted to try the method out on a kid’s garment first.
Now, with shirring, you have to hand-wind the elastic thread around a bobbin; then you sew parallel rows with regular thread in the top and the elastic thread in the bobbin of your machine. Opinions are divided over whether you should stretch the elastic thread as you wind it or not. I suspect it has everything to do with your machine and its bobbin tension. My machine seems to have a fairly high bobbin tension (some day I’ll figure out how to adjust that, too), so I opted for no, or at least very little, stretching as I wound.
As you can see, it worked just fine (or at least well enough). It was a smidge less than a 2:1 gather ratio. The amount of gather is also affected by stitch length, which in turn is affected by how you handle the fabric especially once the scrunching of the other rows of shirring comes into effect. I did about 1/4″ between each of my rows, or rather, the width of one side of my presser foot. I’m getting better at doing parallel rows of stitching, but not that good, especially when one side is trying to ruch up on you. I also ran a 3/8″ elastic through a casing just below the top, to keep the top nice and snug, since that is the part that seems to go first in shirred items, in my experience.
I think this will probably end up a present for the daughter of my kids’ Fairy Gothmother, a lovely and
intimidating seamstress herself, whose gifts to my children over the years have included a Gothic Princess dress, a spiderweb-print sundress, and numerous other wonders. I’ve always wanted to sew something for her daughter (now two) in return, but have been too intimidated by her awesomeness vs. my own mediocre skillz. Maybe now, though, they’re up to a point where I can attempt to repay the favours?
Doubtful, but anyway… she gave my girls these skull buttons years ago and we never managed to actually put the darling things on anything, and now I can only find the one. But I think it makes a nice centre for a flower, to make the dress a little less plain, right?