Adding stretchy areas to woven garments with elastic shirring thread is a great way to create a fitted, yet comfortable silhouette
I'm sorry to report that my shirring experiments (begun Sunday) are not going swimmingly. As I understand it--from reading gazillions of message board posts and online tutorials and the instructions for the few patterns I have that involve shirring--there are two main methods of applying elastic shirring thread (pictured below):
- Sewing with a zig-zag stitch (with all-purpose poly thread in both needle and bobbin) over the elastic thread as if it were cording. This works, but it's a bit tricky and slow—it's hard to keep such a thin little piece of elastic set up in a straight line.
- Handwinding the elastic shirring thread (I used Stretchrite) into the bobbin, and achieving some magic marriage of tension and stitch length that would cause the fabric to bunch up and shir as you sewed.
I've been working at number two and failing. I've had no problem getting evenly spaced lines of shirring exactly 1/2" apart (using a quilting guide, plus it is gingham fabric after all)... but it just doesn't magically shir, even when I steam it! I feel like I have tried every possible stitch length and upper tension setting (my Viking doesn't have separate bobbin tension to my knowledge) there is!
I've tried winding the elastic on the bobbin loosely and more tightly. Nothing. So I've resorted to just treating the elastic thread as if I were gathering--I stitch with the longest stitch length on a medium tension setting and then I pull the elastic threads from each end until it gathers up the right amount.
Except the waistband pieces I am shirring are 40" wide and so I have to reload the bobbin with elastic thread every two rows. So it's slow, slow going. Maybe I won't make the shirred waistband piece 10" deep after all... maybe just 5"?
Update from 2013: I finally figured it out! I was winding the elastic thread into the bobbin BACKWARDS. Now I can shir perfectly straight lines like MAGIC. Try it!