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The Secrets To Shirring

May 1, 2013 in Sewing Basics, Tips & Tricks

After spending more time than I would like to admit, I have finally learned the secrets to shirring! I read blog after blog and tip after tip. All pointed me in a different direction and none of them gave me the scrunch that is needed in shirring. I would line everything up, think it was perfect and bam! another perfectly straight stitch with no elasticity. Then, it happened…I cracked the code on shirring and I was on the inside. So here is how I did it and I hope it works for you as well! I have started so many new projects just because I can’t get over how fun it is and how cute shirring makes apparel. Especially little girl clothes!!!

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring


  • Scrap fabric strips- thinner fabric is better for shirring!
  • Elastic thread- I bought mine at Joann Fabrics
  • Coordinating top thread (you can match this to your fabric)
  • Sewing machine

1. Wind your elastic onto a bobbin- I used my machine after many failed attempts of trying to wind it by hand

2. Load your bobbin into your machine. ***I removed my bobbin cover and bobbin holder so I could take a picture because this was the mastering step for me. When you load your bobbin make sure the elastic thread makes it under the metal hook and it is secure. Before I figured this out, my elastic was slipping during my first few stitches and I wasn’t getting the “pull” I needed to see the scrunch.

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring

3. I chose to use a wide straight stitch. On the BabyLock Sofia2, there is also an elastic zigzag stitch that I tried and it worked but I liked the look of the straight stitch better. I did not adjust my tension at all.

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring

4. Next, make sure to leave an excess of about 1″ of elastic thread to tie off your stitch when you are complete and start sewing from one edge of fabric to the other with right side of fabric facing up. You want the elastic thread to show on the wrong side of the fabric.

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring

5. I spaced my rows about 1/2″ apart, using my┬ápresser foot as my measuring tool. I lined up the last finished row with the right hand edge of the presser foot to help guide me and keep my rows evenly spaced and straight.

Totally Stitchin': Secrets to Shirring

6. Continue to repeat rows until you have the look you want! Just remember to make sure to stretch the fabric out flat while guiding it through the machine. I did this by holding the fabric with my right index finger behind the needle and with my thumb in front of the needle.

shirring8 copy

Another secret that I have learned about elastic thread is if you use an iron and steam it, it shrinks up a bit. This is a great thing to keep in mind if your shirring doesn’t have as much scrunch as you would like. Just steam it! Just be careful not to burn the elastic with the iron. And a hint from my mom…she says skip the iron and just throw it in the wash! The dryer will do the work for you!

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