How to: Shirr Fabric for Dressmaking

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on June 14, 2022

Shirring is having it's moment, it seams to be everywhere! 

Especially after the Sewing Bee this year.  If you want a bit of help learning how to shirr fabrics for dressmaking, let me guide you through the process of setting up your machine.  Shirring is one of our favourite techniques, we've run shirred dress workshops, added it as a detail on our Homebody Joggers pattern  and designed two dressmaking patterns with Love Sewing Magazine with shirring.  


First, let's set up

Choosing Your Fabric

When shirring, it's best to work with light weight fabrics, such as cotton lawn or viscoses.  Avoid anything heavyweight.

You will want to have hemmed your fabric before you start adding the shirring.




Which threads?

You will need to hand wind the bobbin thread with shirring elastic, carefully avoiding stretching it as you do so.  Wind five or six bobbins at once so you have them ready as you start.  

You will use regular thread to coordinate with your fabric in the needle.


Let's Start Sewing!

Start sewing just under where you have hemmed your fabric.  Use a regular length straight stitch, remembering to back-stitch at the start and end.

Your first row might look at bit flat, but as more rows are added, the fabric will gather more and more.

When you sew the next row, keep the lines of stitching parallel by using the side of your foot to line up with the first row of stitching.  As you sew more and more rows the fabric with gather, so gently pull the fabric flat as it passed under the foot.


Finish off the Shirring

When you've sewn all your rows of shirring, spray the fabric lightly with water, then hover your iron over the top of the fabric so it creates steam.  This will gather the fabric evenly and set the shirring

Now you shirred panel is ready to be used in your dressmaking projects!  Don't forget to tag us in your finished garment and progress photos #CraftySewAndSo