My poor sewing machine was totally and utterly neglected over the holidays. My crafty projects just seemed to call for a hammer and nail or glue gun instead. I even thought I heard my “Brother” crying during those eight hours of working on my No-Sew Christmas tree skirt.
Let’s just say I had some making up to do.
Yesterday, I pulled my Bro out of the closet, sat him on the table, asked for forgiveness, and declared my commitment to getting back in the swing of sewing in this new year. Onwards and upwards! We dove right into the next Sewing 101 lesson on the docket: shirring.
(For those who don’t know, I’m slowly but surely working my way through Raechel Myers’ free Sewing 101 course as I attempt to learn the basics of sewing and prepare to make my very own Market Bag. I highly recommend it if you’re a beginner like I am or looking for a refresher.)
So, back to shirring (pronounced sure-ing). Some call it shirring, some call it smocking. I call it shocking! (Get it? I combined the two words into one new word to be funny…but if you have to explain a joke, it sorta loses its punch, doesn’t it? Blast.)
[Update: shirring and smocking are similar looking, but are not the same thing. To learn the difference, check out the comments below by Nancy and Debbie. Thanks, ladies, for clarifying!]
If anyone was as mystified as I was at the term “shirring,” let me show you a photo of one of my favorite shirred dresses as an example:
And this is not my only shirred dress; in fact, most of my summer dresses have shirring at the top. Because the bottom stitch of shirring is done with elastic thread, the fabric has such a nice give to it. My shirred dresses fit like a glove and are my most comfortable wears, no diggity. And even better, I picked most of them up for a song at our favorite thrift store in C’Bus, Rag-O-Rama.
So, of course, I was eager to take this lesson on…until I realized I had to take apart my machine! Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn! I was sure I was going to break something and ruin my Bro forever. You see, in order to shirr with a Brother top-loader machine, you have to remove the bobbin casing and tighten a teeny tiny green screw. See?
Thankfully, Raechel’s video tutorial helped me through it. I also had a few issues getting the elastic thread to feed up through the needle plate, but eventually, after some tongue-biting, we made it. From there on, shirring was easy, breezy.
Here is my newest journal page with my completed swatch of shirring:
You can bet I went to sleep last night with visions of shirred sundresses dancing in my head!
To my sewist friends: do you use shirring much? Any tips or tricks of the trade to offer to use newbies?
Also, if you’d like to head back to some of my earlier Sewing 101 posts, here they all are in chronological order:
Have a shirrific day!