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.
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:
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.