Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Favourite Sewing Technique: Shirring

Recently I've realised that having an expanding bust and belly calls for some expandable clothing. Especially on hot days, or days when I have lunches or dinners to go to where I may eat a lot (there just isn't as much room in my belly for food as I'm used to). So shirring has become my new favourite sewing technique.

To arm myself with some appropriate shirring fabric, I went to Spotlight (chain fabric store for non-Australians) a couple of days after Christmas when I was still in Queensland, and was lucky enough to get there on a day where there was 30% off all fabric, including already discounted fabric. I got 11.5m of fabric for $51. Woo Hoo!! I got 2.5m of some green floral cotton voile for $3.50/m that I'm making into a Burdastyle Anda frock; 3m of some white cotton sateen with little black polka dots for $3.50/m that I will make into a shirtdress when I've lost my baby weight; and 3m of some navy and cream striped cotton sateen for $3.50/m that I'm not sure what I'll do with yet, but is for later on too.

I spent the most ($7/m) on 3m of this lovely cotton voile with pinky tones that I turned into a shirred dress:

(side view to show you how my bump is growing at great speed!)

What do you think? I used Jorth's tutorial again, but did the sleeves differently, as well as many more rows of shirring so that I have a bit of waist definition in this dress - not that I really have a waist anymore. The sleeves were taken from one of my birthday dresses. I used the front and back 'flounce' pattern pieces and joined them to a regular straight strap to create the sleeves:

I really like how they turned out. Again, shirred dresses are an easy project - the only time consuming thing is doing lots of rows of straight stitching. It really is just two rectangles joined together. I'm also glad I've learnt to do shirring, as I think it will be a good technique for little baby clothes!!

I also realised that I missed my blog-iversary, which was on New Years Eve. I can't believe it has been a year. I've had so much fun looking through my projects to see how my sewing has progressed, and had a good laugh at my sewing attempts when I had a broken arm. Thank you for reading along with me, and making my sewing all the more fun!!


  1. Aw, you look absolutely GORGEOUS. I love the dress. Am so enjoying going on this journey with you. I hope you're happy and well. Shirring - even the sound of it terrifies me. Is it VERY difficult?

  2. it looks great! and I love the fabric that you chose. You did very well in the spotlight sales. I did some shopping just before Christmas in the sales and got the fabric for the last two skirts I made. One was $5/metre and the other $4/metre. Considering both skirts on used 1.5m each they were quite a bargain to make.

  3. Great little dress! Never tried shirring... looks slightly difficult. do you need a shirring foot? stupid question?
    The baby bump suits you! :-)

  4. Aw shucks everyone - thank you! I'm very happy and well. A little bit more tired than previous weeks, but we did do alot of driving over the Christmas period, and I am getting bigger, so it is to be expected!!

    Shirring is the simplest thing!! All you need to do is:

    (1) make sure you wind the shirring elastic onto the bobbin yourself VERY tightly.
    (2) use regular thread for the non-bobbin thread.
    (3) use a regular straight-stitch foot.
    (4) I increase the tension on my machine by two.
    (5) Reinforce the seam where the shirring lines meet -- I do about 4 straight lines, and then zigzag it about the same to really make sure I've gone over the elastic.

    It is really easy - give it a go!!

  5. I love the colors and print, looks really nice and breezy!

  6. What a beautiful dress, I love the fabric...and you've convinced me to give shirring a go. I always assumed it would be hard!

    Your bump is so cute by the way ;o)

  7. Gorgeous dress! I particularly love the straps.

  8. You did a great job with the shirring :) Your dress looks super comfy and very pretty.xx

  9. Shirring does seem like a useful technique. I have several summer tops that just have a little bit of shirring at the back. You look great in those pinky tones!

  10. It looks great, I quite fancy trying that technique myself when the weather brightens up here in the uk.

  11. Hi Rachel - you are looking so good! Its great that you are getting so much sewing done. This dress is gorgeous - I love the frill shoulders.

    I keep meaning to ask you where you bought your belk kit (a few posts back) as I need one and haven't seen them around.

    Chat soon!

  12. Very cute! I've been afraid to try shirring but your finished dress looks lovely!

  13. Look at pretty, pretty you!! You look fabulous and your little bump is so cute! What a steal for all that fabric - lucky you!

    I love shirring, too. It's so easy and comfortable and I really like the feminine touch it adds to items. :)

  14. Thanks everyone (again!). Shirring is great.

    Corinne -- I got the belt kit from Lincraft. If you can't find one there, I'm pretty sure I've seen them in Clegs, and I've definitely seen heaps of them on etsy. Good luck!

  15. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, interesting interesting interesting... I can see a new challenge for me here: SHIRRING. Love your dot point explanation above too, I shall be visiting again when I work out what to make! YAY!

    Love that you bump is so OUT THERE MUM nowadays! Yay!