Fabric that is!
I'm on a new quest to create some new cute stuff for my girls. I've always wanted to learn how to shirr fabric, so I searched through some tutorials and gave it a shot. I must have gone back at least 5 times, because I'd follow the instructions, but it wasn't stretchy! Finally I happened upon another tutorial that said to steam iron the fabric after sewing. Ok, gave it a shot, and POOF! Whaddayaknow. What a crucial step to leave out!
So anyway, I'm going to leave my simple steps, in layman's terms. I don't know why I couldn't find clear directions in one place, so I'm leaving them here in case I forget (or you want to know)!
Choose a lightweight fabric. I'm matching mine with a tutu, so I chose a satin. Your cut of fabric needs to be 2.5 times the width. So for example, a chest measurement is 24 inches. 24x2.5=60. Hem all sides, or in my case. I folded over the top 1/4 inch, and zigzag stiched. You can just zigzag the other edges too to prevent fraying. You will be working from the right side of the fabric, so you might want to make a starting line about an inch from the top with a marking pen or chalk. the shirr lines can be anywhere from 1/4 inch to an inch apart. Some people prefer to use the edge of their foot for a guide, but I found it easier to mark my lines. For mine, they are 1/2 inch apart. So starting from the first line down, mark every half an inch.
Now, set your tension to 3 and your stitch length as long as possible, for me, 5. You will need to wind a bobbin with elastic sewing thread. You must hand wind it, so you don't overstretch it. A little tension is ok, but not too much. Insert your bobbin and get ready! Make sure the top thread matches your fabric or is the color of your choice, as it will be seen, again working on the topside.
So let's get started! Line up on the first line, take a couple stitches, backstitch, then follow the line. Backstitch when you get to the end. Turn, then do the same on the next line! do not stretch your fabric or anything, just let the machine do the work.
So, once you are done stitching, here comes the fun part. This is the part that was left out and had me soooo confused, because my fabric wasn't stretchy! Hold a hot steam iron about an inch from the fabric. It'll do this shrinky dink thing, and woosh! It's stretchy!
Note: Some people like to use 1/4 inch elastic on the top. Instead of just hemming the top, create a pocket for the elastic. Insert the elastic after shirring. The same canbe done for the bottom hem if preferred.
Another Note: Another method instead of backstitching each start and end of each line is to pull the top thread to the back and tie it and the elastic thread together. I think it is to prevent fraying the elastic thread, but backstitching worked fine for me.
So anyway, here's the final product (shirring anyway)!
Now I must say, once I FINALLY got the directions all together, it was so easy! I was worried that my machine was going to eat my elastic thread, but not once did it get caught up. I am so excited to work on some cute projects now!