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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Machine Shirring Tenderfeet Style

This is such a fun and easy technique that too many people find initially intimidating. Take heart, the web is full of how-to tips, free, affordable and adorable tutorials, videos and information. I have read a great deal on the subject and applied it time and time again. So, I decided to compiled the included information for my followers, in particular Pamela ;). Enjoy, and feel free to add your own tips and information in the comments section.

It’s as simple as this...

What you need:
Your sewing machine
Regular machine sewing thread
Elastic thread (you can usually find this in the elastic section of your craft store)
An empty bobbin

A few things to consider:
Every machine and every person sews differently. You will likely need to spend some time practicing on scrap fabric until you find that sweet spot. Different weaves and weights of fabric gather differently. A satin fabric will gather more readily than a denim. When considering how wide your fabric should be, a simple rule to follow is 1.5 to 2 times wider than the desired width of your completed project.

So here we go and remember, it’s easy!

1) Begin by loosely hand spooling the elastic thread onto your bobbin. Be sure you go in the same direction that your machine does when it spools the bobbin automatically. Also, take care not to stretch the thread.
Some have had better success letting the machine spool the thread, possibly because it adds just a little bit of tension. I have tried this and seen little difference. To do this, I began by spinning a little bit of elastic thread onto the bobbin. Then, I placed it onto my machine, just as I would when spooling regular thread. I held the elastic in my hand and began spooling; taking care not to put too much tension on the elastic.

2) Load the bobbin into your machine as you normally would when you’re about to sew.

3) Set your straight stitch length to its longest setting.
Some have had success with a normal stitch length and still others, somewhere in between. This is where you have to play around with your machine a bit to find that sweet spot. Adjust your stitch length and tension until you gain the desired results.
For me, I set my machine to a standard straight stitch and adjust my length to a 6.0.

4) Starting at one end of your fabric, run a stitch down the width to the other end. Make certain you backstitch several times at the beginning and end of your shirring stitches. Also, do not pull your fabric through the feed. You don’t want to stretch the elastic thread. I will admit that I do, at times, encourage my fabric through the feed. The important thing to consider is if you put too much tension on your elastic thread, it may break with use.
Some prefer to knot the thread tails by hand, instead of backstitching.

5) Add as many rows of shirring stitches as needed to achieve the desired results. The distance between each stitch row can vary, depending on your project. The closer your rows and the more you add, the more your fabric will be drawn in. If you have many rows close together, you may begin to lose your stretch. So, the size of your project is directly proportional to the distance between each row!

6) Place your project on the ironing board and hold your iron over the elastic, not touching, and let loose on the steam button. This will make it shrink up, giving you more ruffle and stretch. The same effect will be achieved in the dryer, the first time you launder. So, if your project doesn’t seem to have gathered quite enough, add a little heat and watch it retract a bit more.

For a simple project to hone your skills give my free sun hat tutorial a try. If you think you’re ready to move on to something a bit more entailed, search the web for free dress tutorials or check out my Etsy shop. I offer several adorable and easy to make patterns at affordable prices.

1 comment:

  1. I had so much trouble figuring this out! I did what was explained here and nothing worked! Until I found this video. If you have a Brother top loading bobbin type of machine, here you go! I did this and it finally worked.