Shirring is when you use elastic thread as the bobbin’s thread.
I love the look of a shirred garment. Just love it. And after seeing this tutorial for a shirred bottom too-big shirt, I knew the perfect shirt in my closet that needed this alteration.
And I achieved the desired alteration to my shirt. However, I had many terrible problems.
I tried and tried to shirr with my elastic thread. I cried at one point because of all the problems I had on my quest to create a shirred bottom.
I found tons of sites explaining how to shirr, so I’m not going to bother with a tutorial on that. But I didn’t find anyone really showing me pictures of problems they had while trying to shirr, so I’m going to show you what my problems were and how I solved them.
Here is a picture of my problem. (This is the back of the fabric.) See how the elastic thread was all sqiggly? And not stretchy? That is the problem. I ripped out almost an entire spool of elastic thread after 3-4 seams around the bottom of the shirt looked like this.
I was so mad.
I thought that maybe increasing the tension on my machine and decreasing the stitch length would help with the tension problem.
Nope. Still unsuccessful.
Finally, I read [for what felt like the 15th time] that people with a “Brother” brand sewing machine with a drop-in bobbin have to do something with the tension on their bobbin to shirr properly. Now, I don’t have a Brother machine and I don’t know what type of bobbin I have. But I finally gave in and watched this instructional video.
I am SO glad I watched it!! I learned a lot. Including how to keep regular thread from being wiggly on the back of normal sewing projects.
I was finally able to turn out a row of straight elastic thread. And shirring takes way less elastic thread when it has the proper tension holding it under the bobbin.
I do not have a Brother brand machine. I have a Kenmore. But here are my tips if you have had any trouble shirring:
1. I am the queen of cutting corners. Of not paying attention to detail. So when I sew, I often don’t take the time to tuck the bobbin thread underneath my ‘bobbin tension creator-thingie’. (That is not a technical term.) Here is a picture of what you should do:
2. Before placing fabric under the presser foot, take a few stitches by turning the wheel of the sewing machine. This will ensure that the bobbin thread comes through the little hole under the presser foot and avoid tangling.
3. You may have to increase the tension on the bobbin. This sounds hard, but is simple. There is a screw on the bobbin case. Just turn it to the right until you can’t turn it any more.
And by doing these three [seemingly] technical steps, I was able to achieve perfect shirring! I was so excited.
This is the before picture. (My mom had gotten this shirt for me and lost the receipt to return it. It was too big and a little shapeless.) But three rows of shirring made me love it!
So I’d like to say “Thank you” to Ashley of Make it and Love It. I now love my once too-big shirt.
And a big, big thank you to this blog for helping me gain the skills I needed to shirr many future garments.