Monday 2 March 2020

Shirring elastic for a birthday win

I've been making a birthday dress for A pretty much since she was born and they often go down a bit like a lead balloon. I had no expectations of anything different this year, as she's really not wearing dresses.

So I went with my usual plan of making something I wanted to make. And it worked!

I'd never yet tried using shirring elastic. Which is crazy, because it suits toddler outfits so well. Anyway, we'd been seeing lots of shirred tops and dresses in shops and both agreed that it would be cool to make a shirred dress.

Then, this rayon remnant was on sale at Fabric Deluxe and the light, smooth drapey fabric with its crazy digital print was just begging to be made into a shirred summer dress.

I followed this tutorial from The Sewing Directory only varying a bit with the length and the number of rows of shirring. From memory I used their suggested size 9 width, lengthened to 90cm to make more use of the border print and did 14 rows of shirring.

I hadn't thought of how much elastic would be used and had only bought one each of a few different colours in order to decide which would look best. We decided on a bright green, but I had to go back and buy a second spool as it used almost two full spools to do this much shirring.

I wound the shirring elastic onto the bobbin by hand, but found it didn't require any extra fiddling or adjusting beyond that. I've just loaded it in, threaded the needle with a matching green regular thread and started sewing lines.

To keep the spacing even I just used the edge of the presser foot as a guide. It looks like nothing is happening for the first few rows, then it starts to really gather and scrunch up nicely. And with a bit of a steam press it suddenly looks completely pro!

Since the dress wasn't a surprise, and I was pretty sure it might not get worn, I did pull out a few all nighters and sew three pairs of shorts and a backpack as well! All of which are yet to be photographed.

But she opened her presents while a couple of friends who'd had a birthday sleepover were still around and they oohed and aahed over this dress to the extent that I think she started to quite like it herself.

And now I know of a way to make a quick dress out of a remnant of fabric that will fit pretty much any kid. So there's last minute birthday gifts for other little (appreciative) girls sorted!


  1. Perfect sun dress and the shirring makes it very size friendly.

  2. It's lovely! I discovered the wonders of elastic thread in the bobbin to gather knit fabrics but this is inspiring me to try some shirring next!

  3. So cute and perfectly breezy on a hot day! Love that fabric.


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