sewing 101: shirring

Posted by & filed under Sewing 101.

You guys. Today is a really fun lesson! Once you get your machine settings right, there’s not a bunch of pressing or measuring or anything tedious. Just a lot of fun stitching that makes a big difference with your fabric! Shirring (pronounced: sure-ing) is a fun little skill to have and hopefully my lesson today will walk you through it smoothly and answer any questions you may have.

And of course, before we begin I like to show you some examples of this technique practically applied. You see shirring a lot in the warm weather months, especially on little girls in rompers or dresses. It’s beautifully forgiving fit-wise because it’s so stretchy.

Here are two shirred things from the Myers home:

And, a file photo from a top and bloomers I made for Hazel last spring with some of my favorite Anna Maria Horner fabrics. The front and back of the top are shirred across and the leg holes of the bloomers are also shirred. See how cute and useful shirring can be?

Let’s move on to the lesson!

What you’ll need:
elastic thread
empty bobbin
sewing machine
possibly a screwdriver for your sewing machine
1-3 fabric rectangles (4×6) for practice
your sewing book
scissors or snips

Machine settings:
needle position: far left
stitch length: longest (5.0)
tension: varies with machine

And the video:

I totally want to see y’all’s shirred rectangles! Share them here if you like!

Have a great Saturday, friends!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Brother NX800 machine mentioned above for free in exchange for a mention of the product in my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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19 Responses

  1. Lisa 17 April 2012 at 1:51 am

    I think my machine may have just broken down from trying shirring :(
    I could not get it to sew with the elastic thread and now after adjusting the bobbin tension, my regular thread is getting tangled and locking the machine up. I hope Brother can help me.

    • Raechel Myers 17 April 2012 at 9:32 am

      oh no, lisa! is yours a top-loader like mine? is it that you’re having trouble re-adjusting the green screw back to normal? hoping brother can help you, but let me know if there’s anything i can do!

      • Meili 29 July 2013 at 1:34 pm

        I was able to do the shirring, thanks to you Raechel. However, I could not get the tension back to normal, and like Lisa, my regular thread gets tangled up.

  2. Sara 17 April 2012 at 7:42 am

    Im sure this is a lovely post, full of insightful tips on how to make beautiful garments. But after watching the video with examples of shirring- I can’t stop thinking about you having a yard sale!! :)

    • Raechel Myers 17 April 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Haha – hilarious! Yep, had one on Saturday and cleared out a bunch of stuff! Last fall I sold clothing-lots on twitter during my garage sale which was kinda fun but a lot of work.

  3. Lisa 17 April 2012 at 10:53 am

    I got some sleep and will try with a not-so-tired brain tonight to make sure I got the bobbin race & case back in correctly (I’m sewing machine literate – so fancy!). If that does not work, I will try a new case… Maybe I scratched it? After Googling my symptoms, that is a possibility, especially when sewing at 11:00 PM :)

  4. Makayla 31 January 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Im loving this blog! I just got a new sewing machine and have been make shifting some stuff just by guessing so I’m super excited I found this. I was just thinking of a good idea to know where to set your screw when you’re ready to put it back!! Try taking a picture of it with your phone before you tighten it so when you’re ready to put it back in place you can see exactly where it was set instead of guessing and hoping!

  5. Jen 15 February 2013 at 2:07 pm

    First off, thanks for doing this awesome tutorial for the newbie sewists. So far I’ve been following along nicely. Then came this elastic thread and bobbin mess. I get everything done and wrap the thread around to be snipped off & then my thread does not pop-up where it supposed to be (by the feed dog things). Help me!

    I have a top-loading brother.

  6. Sonya 6 January 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I set my brother machine bobbin as you said for shirring. Now I cant get the tension back. You see the thread on both sides of fabric. Can you help?

  7. Jen 17 January 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I just wanted to let you know how much i appreciate your lessons! I’ve had my machine for almost 10 years and didn’t have the confidence and knowledge to use it. I have been having a great time learning and your teaching style is so easy to follow. Thank you so much!


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