I love sewing for my little girls, and there are so many cute tutorials and patterns to choose from. However, I have avoided any that contain "shirring"...until now. So, what is shirring? It's that cute stretchy stuff you see at the top of many sundresses, or as a way to gather puffed sleeves or leg openings on bloomers. It is a fast process that has a huge impact in the fit and finish of your garment. There are many tutorials out there, and they all vary slightly. I'm going to show you what works on my Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond...because most tutorials were for Brother machines, which many say will never shirr unless you mess with your bobbin case, and that is NOT something I want to do on my machine. So, here you go, shirring made easy!
First,choose your fabric. Practice on a fabric scrap before using up that prized fabric! Shirring works best on lightweight fabric like gingham, seersucker, batiste, broadcloth, etc.
Next, you will need elastic thread to wind on your bobbin. I chose Gutermann thread because it is high quality, but many people say Stretch Rite works just fine. I did use my automatic thread winder, but I set it on the slowest speed and held the elastic thread spool in my hands. If you don't have that option, then I would suggest hand winding with only a little bit of tension.
I chose a straight stitch, and on my Viking, I selected a stitch length of 4.5 and 3.0 tension.
I must say, as I stitched, I prepared for disaster. I have heard that you must keep playing with the tension to get it right, and some never get it to work. This worked on the very first try for me. (Do I hear angels singing? Why yes I do!) I stitched continuous rows, using my presser foot as a guide. I backstitched at the beginning and end of every row, but I did not cut the thread. I just lifted up the material, turned it and began stitching down the next row. You will notice that the fabric begins to gather after the first row. You will want to stretch out your material to keep things nice and even.
Finally, here's the fun part! Take your shirred fabric to the ironing board and hit the elastic with a nice burst of steam. Don't set the iron on it...just blast it with steam and watch the magic happen. The fabric will draw up even more, and you will be left with a nice, stretchy piece of fabric.
Now, go give it a a try! YOU WILL BE HOOKED!!! I'm now collecting all the shirring patterns I can find...anticipating cute little dresses for warmer weather!