When I first learned how to shirr on my sewing machine, I had a hard time finding a good tute using a Brother on account of the drop-in bobbin style so I want to share what I find works wonderfully for me (after a lot of trial and error!). This may sound complicated but I promise, after you get the hang of it, you’ll love elastic thread and shirring!
If your pattern doesn’t tell you how much fabric length to use, the usual shirring ratio is 2:1. So, let’s say I’m shirring a dress for my daughter. If her chest circumference is 20″, I want to my fabric piece to be 40″ across (plus an inch or two for seam allowance).
First thing first. The elastic thread only goes in the bobbin. This might go without saying but when I first started to sew, I failed to read the instructions on the elastic thread package and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get such thick thread in the needle…that’s because you don’t! Normal thread on top, elastic thread in the bobbin.
This is the elastic thread I prefer. It’s by Stretch Rite and looks like this:
The front side, finished:
- Wind several bobbins with elastic thread.
- Tighten your bobbin tension by turning the front screw on the bobbin case 1 turn to the right.
- Use normal tension and 4.0 stitch length on the top thread.
- Shirr in rows leaving several inches of “tail” with each row.
- Sew your seams and trim threads.
- Shrink your shirred rows with a hot iron with steam.
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