A Guide to Shirring

A Guide to Shirring

The new Moonflower set is so comfy and cute, I wish it came in my size! My favorite variation of the shorts are the bubbles with the shirring at the leg. Shirring can be a little bit daunting, but with a little bit of practice and troubleshooting, anyone can do it! Today I’m going to walk you through the steps to get the perfect shirr! 

Here’s a link to the video, or keep reading below for a step by step written guide. For the pictures and video I am using a basic Janome sewing machine to help show the steps in the most simple way possible. The concepts should be the same across most machines.


Step one is to wind the bobbin with your elastic thread. The key to this is to hand wind it with a very small amount of tension, not too tight, not too loose. Also, don’t be tempted to throw it on your bobbin winder, trust me, it just won’t work! 

After you have wound it, thread the bobbin through you machine just like you would typically. For the top/main thread, use an all purpose thread that matches your fabric. Make sure to leave tails a few inches long on both.


Select the straight stitch, and set your thread length long, between a 3-4. Shirring works because the elastic gathers the fabric between each stitch link, so the longer the stitch length, the more gathering. The shorter the stitch length, the less there will be.


Test your gathers on a scrap piece of fabric. If you aren’t happy with amount of gathering, you may play with tightening and loosening your tension. The top thread should be loosely holding your elastic thread without pulling it too tightly.


Start and stop each row with a few backstitches to secure, and make sure you sew past the seam allowance. When you sew lightly pull your fabric tight to help keep your gathering consistent. 


Once you have completed your shirring, use an iron and hovering above that fabric, hit both sides with steam. This helps constrict the elastic thread and helps tighten your gathering.


That’s it! Happy shirring (and sewing)!

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