Tips Tuesday- Easy Shirring

shirred dress

Check out this student project. This upcycled children’s dress was made from a mens dress shirt. With shirring added to cinch the waist, the entire project was completed in a matter of only a few hours.

If you are looking to add shirring to a garment, or want an easier way to get the appearance of smocking, here’s the trick.

Hand wind your bobbin with elastic thread (I’d recommend paying the extra few bucks for Gutterman thread, it’s more durable then most). Be sure not to pull or stretch your elastic as you wind.

elastic threaded bobbin

Using the elastic thread for the bobbin and regular thread for the top, thread up your machine as usual. Lengthen your stitch length so it is slightly longer than usual (on our Janome’s I tend to use a stitch length of 3-3.5).

shirring bobbin

It’s not a bad idea to chalk in the sew lines on the good side of your garment before you begin. This will make it easier to have neat, evenly spaced shirring. I find that 1/2″ between each row looks best.

marking for shirring

Now, sew your first line of shirring, backstitching a few stitches on either end. Line up your fabric for the next row. As you continue, be sure you are holding your fabric taught as it runs through the machine. Repeat this process for as many rows as is necessary.

sewing shirring

Once you are done shirring, use your iron to steam your fabric. Hold your iron above your shirred fabric and press the steam button. This allows your fabric to settle into the gathers you have created.


Shirr Genius! (I just can’t help the bad puns)