Saturday, July 26, 2008

How to Shir or Repair Shirring

It's Saturday- and at my house that means 1 1/2 hours of quality sewing time while the girls watch Saturday morning television. This week, it was spent mending pajamas, which made me remember that I wanted to make a tutorial on How to Shir.
My youngest has a nightgown from Gymbo which the shirring has disintegrated from overuse, but the thing is still one of her favorites.

To shir a new garment, first you would test your fabric by measuring a small piece, shirring it, then using your steam iron to shrink the shirring. Then remeasure the piece to determine how much shirring will shrink the material. (Similar to tight gathering.) For example, does it lessen the length by half? then you need to double the fabric width for that section.

In this case, it was a nightgown already being worn, so I'm just winging it.

The first step is to wind elastic sewing thread (this is usually in the notions/elastic section and not in the thread section of your fabric store) by hand around a bobbin. Do not pull the elastic tightly, just firmly. Do not try to do this on your machines bobbin winder as it will end up in kicking a wall, or speaking like a sailor.

Then place your bobbin in your machine as normal. Us a slightly longer stitch (I like to use 3.0) on your machine. I do not adjust the tension on my machine, though you can play with this adjustment if you are using a decorative thread on top. (I used just different colored threads for this project.)

When shirring on a new project, shir prior to sewing side seams or bindings. This way, the end strings will be caught in the seam. I try to use even numbers of rows whenever possible- then tie the ends together in a knot. In this case, rather than rip out the bindings on the arms, I tacked the beginning stitches, then trimmed close to the tacking when I was done. This was done using the tacking button on my machine.

If you do not have a tacking button, stitch at 0 stitch length for a few stitches with a short zig zag. I do not recommend backstitching with elastic thread for tacking.

Sew the rows fairly close together- here this was predetermined for me, but on a new project I would sew them no more than 1/2" apart for a yoke, possibly larger for a back of a dress. Here the previous row of stitching just lines up with the outside of my presser foot.

Please note that it will look like your gathers are not gathering "enough". The elastic shirring will shrink up after you steam iron it. In the next photo, I have completely gathered, but only steamed one section. I do this on cotton setting with full steam. Here's a photo of the yoke gathered, but not steamed-

Here, the portion on the left has been steamed, the portion on the right has not. See? It really does make a difference.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Quick Finish for another UFO

If I had known that it would be work immediately, I would have finished this UFO long ago!
I was finally prodded by a review I read by Karen6790 on Pattern - the review explained how she had had a jacket in her UFO pile waiting on the "perfect buttons". A light bulb went off.
This little outfit has been hanging in my UFO room (also called my laundry room by some...) since it was originally made to fit the OLDER daughter. Waiting on perfect buttons I had in my mind that never surfaced. Also, I wanted to make it adjustable-- I'm not sure why this was so important. Here's a shot from an angle that makes it easier to see the aprong stand out.

The fabric is from Michael Miller's quilting collection Retro Kitchen, and I just fell in love with it at first sight, but never could find the perfect pattern. I ended up using a modified version of Simplicity 4203. I added a little apron layer to the top, and widened the straps to showcase the border fabric. I also added a cuff border to the pants, taking out the vent, in order to use more of the border.

The background fabric is formica print from the same grouping.

I'll keep looking for fabulous, retro buttons that are perfect, but in the meantime, it's out of the UFO pile and on a little person!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Still Keeping Me In Stitches

As with all things Internet, my store name was taken-- so I'm blogging on a slightly different handle. I'll be sure to link!

I've decided this summer to --GASP! -- work on decreasing my stash. Fueled mostly by love of my favorite new (to me) site, If you sew and you haven't joined yet, go check it out.

I'm going to try to use each pattern in my stash once, with fabric in my stash. And I'll add reviews, linked here on the right. There's a great contest starting in August (I'm not eligible to enter yet, darn it!) -and I'm going to "play along" here on my blog. You have to make 4 pieces in 4 weeks.

First off I made the girls some swimsuits, from Kwik Sew 2605. I thought this was a very simple pattern- here's my review kwik sew swimsuit

Here's a pic: