How to Sew Shirring Elastic


Shirring is a technique used to gather the fullness in a piece of clothing. Using elastic thread when shirring gives your garment flexibility while still hugging the body. Lightweight no-iron fabrics like jersey, crepe and voiles are best for shirring. Shirring can be used in small areas like cuffs to the entire bodice of a dress.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine with regular thread in the needle
  • Bobbin with elastic thread
  • Bobbin with regular thread
  • Scrap of fabric
  • Piece of fabric or clothing
  • Dress maker’s pencil
  • Ruler
  • Wind the elastic thread on the bobbin by hand until it is almost full. Be sure to stretch the elastic slightly when winding.

  • Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to 6-7 and do a test stitch on a scrap of fabric. Adjust tension and stitch length if necessary.

  • Lay the piece of clothing or fabric right side up on a flat surface and measure and mark your shirring rows across the area of the clothing or fabric wherever you’d like. The rows can be as far apart as 1 inch or as close as 1/4 inch.

  • Sew your shirring lines. Hold the fabric you are shirring flat and taut while stitching.

  • Secure the ends of the shirring stitches by pulling the end of the needle thread to the back of the fabric and tying the elastic and regular thread in a knot.

  • Replace the elastic thread-filled bobbin with one with regular thread and run a line of machine stitches across the knotted ends to hold them in place.

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  • "Complete Guide to Sewing"; The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.; 1976
  • CraftStylish
  • Photo Credit back dress flowers image by Paul Retherford from bobbins image by Alison Bowden from
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