Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shirring World Domination

Successful shirring, at last!

Elastic shirring is hardly a show-stopper. It's considered a basic, easy, shortcut of a sewing technique--something you find in a "Quick to Make" skirt (like this one from Ottobre Woman's February issue) or a simple sundress. It doesn't command the respect of, say, perfectly bound buttonholes, smooth piping or welt pockets.

I don't care. After all my shirring trials and tribulations, I am proud to announce that straight, evenly gathered shirring HAS BEEN ACHIEVED.

In the end, I gave up entirely on the hand-wound elastic thread in the bobbin method. Instead, I went with my mom's favorite technique, and one recommended by one of my Burda envelope patterns--just holding the elastic thread straight on the wrong side of the fabric and zigzagging over it to create a tight casing. The gingham pictured above was the test yoke (too wide and loose), and the black cotton swiss dot lawn is the inside view of an actual piece of my final reversible skirt yoke, as you may recall:

Reversible Shirred Skirt Sketch

One advantage of the zig-zag method is that you can more easily control how much gathering takes place--I just cut 15" pieces of elastic thread, so the yoke sections are each gathered to exactly 15" wide when resting (and will be slightly smaller once steamed). I got the lines parallel (3/8" apart) using a quilting guide bar (I had started to draw in guidelines with tailor's chalk but found it tedious and unnecessary). Once I baste the yoke pieces together, if it's still too loose, I can draw up the elastic threads (just as if I was gathering), or sew the yoke a bit smaller before attaching the skirt.

Oh, and another plus: no need to keep hand-rewinding the bobbin!

The downside? I sense it's quite a bit slower than the elastic-in-bobbin method--but at least it works. And a big part of the snail's pace is just me holding up the shirred yoke after each row to admire it.

Whether I've perfected my technique in time for Friday's mini-wardrobe contest deadline is another matter. But still. I came, I saw, and I SHIRRED.

P.S. As before, I continue to pledge not to let this get to my head. I may heart 1940s style, but there will be no Mommy & Me elastic-shirred playsuits with attached panties, not even polka-dot ones.

Mommy and Me 1940s Playsuits


  1. I have never shirred, but I have gathered and ruffled, and there's nothing so satisfying as seeing the results from these simple techniques. Looking forward to seeing the finished skirt.

  2. mikhaela - ALERT!! The contest ends TOMORROW! Wednesday at 11:59 pm. For some reason 3 different dates have been posted (by the contest mod, I think) but it actually ends on the 14th. a LOT of people though it was the 15th or 16th. If you are screaming ARGH right now you may hear my argh echoing yours.

    Also, good job on the shirring! Someday I will tackle it again.

  3. Oh CRAP. But the contest page says it goes through April 16 and the rules say April 15?! And I have childbirth class until 10:30 tomorrow night.

    Oh well... If I finish the skirt and cardi tonight, I'll photograph them in the AM and do my composite. Obviously the dress is just not going to happen but I will just substitute one of the other skirts I made within the contest period.


  4. Sarah, I just looked at the discussion board--it looks like the final deadline is 11:59 PM THURSDAY night April 15--so we have a LITTLE bit more time after all!

  5. UPDATE - on the contest discussion, they've just announced that (because so many of us protested that it was too confusing!) it will officially end on the 15th, Thursday. The 16th was a typo*, and the contest mod was wrong when she kept telling us the 14th. So it's a little better -- I may go for it now!

    *Apparently, the gallery & contest page always show the wrong date because of some glitch? So always ignore those.

  6. Ha, crosspost! She kept telling us all it ended on the 14th at midbight but yes, it was just clarified. Whew!

  7. I love the look of shirring, but have never tried it. A BWOF shirred top caught my eye recently, but I was wondering how easy their zigzag method would be. I might give it a go.

    Good luck for the remainder of the competition!

  8. So I could have made the contest if I HAD done my sewing all weekend. Damn!

    I had actually thought it ended tonight so gave up on Sunday! Oh please let them give us all another week, right?!

  9. Hooray! So glad you conquered shirring. Now, on to world domination...


I'd love to hear from you! But no ads please--I'll just have to delete them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...