Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Heavenly shirring


I'm meant to be working on curtains this week, but I feel that I'm currently lacking the endless optimism, perseverance and strength of character that such a task requires of me. They're floor to ceiling and have three drops...that's over 14 metres of material to work with between the fabric and the lining. So the curtains still sit half-finished, while instead, I've skipped off to have some fun with shirring. I've been wanting to try shirring for a couple of years now...but I wonder, how does something go from a low-level feeling of 'mmm, I must try that one day', to one's need to elasticise fabric bubbling over and causing one to rush to the shops as a matter of urgency to buy the necessary sewing elastic, knocking elderly ladies and small children to the floor as one goes? That's what happened this week (although in reality no pensioners or toddlers were harmed).


It took just one line of stitching to realise that I was in love. The feeling of taking a normal fabric and turning it into something other; that could be stretched and pinged and drawn in and out like an accordion - it's enough to make one's heart beat quite wildly.


And then to turn it over and see that my own piece of shirred fabric looked just like the shirring that I'd peered at in shops and forever wondered 'how does it work?' Those lovely little lines of elastic floating just above the fabric are happiness inducing.


Only one thing could make the shirring more lovely and that was for the dress that I'd been planning around it to go to plan. And quite wonderfully, it actually did!


Here's my girly scampering around the back garden only hours after the dress came off the machine.


It has just enough twirl appeal to make her happy. The main fabric is Heather Bailey's Church Flowers, mixed with some dotty and stripy prints, also from the Nicey Jane range.


My colours in the garden are slightly bleached by the evening sunlight, but in reality the colours are vibrant and perfect for summer.


This dress took about an hour to draft and then about four hours to sew up, including the shirring.


This could be appearing here in several different colours...but perhaps not pink again...I wanted to use this fabric up in what might be Zebra-girl's last summer of wanting to wear pink. The next one I make will be something altogther more grown-up.


However, first I have those curtains to tackle, some orders to post and then I'll be moving onto something for myself to wear...and I'm almost certain it will be shirred. Shirring this dress made me realise that nearly ever disaster dress that is too big or two shapeless could be easily remedied by a little tactical shirring here and there to gather things in...I'm so excited. The possibilities are endless. Shirred knickers anyone? On second thoughts...don't answer that. I'm sure that I actually had some shirred ones as a toddler that went over nappies. Not a good thought.

19 comments:

  1. Isn't shirring great? The first time I tried it I couldn't believe it worked and it's so easy - once you convince yourself that it will work. Lovely little dress such pretty fabric as always.

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  2. Yep, shirring elastic is magic - as long as you wind it the right way on your bobbin, or maybe that's just me. Last time I think I somehow loaded the second bobbinful backwards or upside down and ended up one line that refused to gather. It is NOT easy to undo mistakes!

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  3. The dress is lovely! I do so want to have a go at shirring too. Not sure it would work for my little boy, so probably just for me! I had a long skirt that was shirred around the top that I lived in when I was pregnant. :)

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  4. I'm almost there - I've completed the 'knock elderly ladies and small children to the floor as I'm eagerly buying some elastic thread' stage. Then I lost all confidence.

    That dress is lovely, though. Hmm, what's the worst that can happen? Actually, I just broke a needle sewing a straight line on thin fabric (and I'm still wondering how that happened), so I could probably do a lot of damage with elastic thread...

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  5. Until I read your post I had not considered shirring - now all of a sudden I want some too, urgently! no idea how you do it as I am newby at sewing but there is an irrational urgency to learn... you have started something here - also I have never seen such beautiful fabrics - your girlies are lucky to have such a creative mum, I bet their friends are envious. Betty x

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  6. Hm, I was trying to come up with an appropriate adjective, but I think you nailed it with "heavenly". It really is :)

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  7. I love it too Florence. Thank you for posting these dressmaking adventures; I need the inspiration to get me away from making for others and back to making for myself - actually, I mean a combination of the two as I need one to fund the other. I am droning on and will now go...! xx

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  8. What a fabulous dress! I've never tried shirring elastic before, its like magic.

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  9. It's a really cute dress, your daughter must be pleased. I've had some shirring elastic in my stash for over a year, but I just cannot convince myself that it will work if I drop it in my bobbin. I imagine all sorts of carnage!

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  10. Oh I so want to try shirring elastic! Really looking forward to seeing what you make for yourself, as I've been trying to figure out how to best incorporate it into an adult dress/tunic/blouse.

    K x

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  11. And the dress (in my current favorite fabric range) is so lovely!

    K x

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  12. Gosh thats beautiful! my little girl would love that dress how do you do shirring?! (yes Im a complete novice apologies for my naivity!)

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  13. Dunno if I had the shirred knickers but definitely had a shirred swimming costume when I was about four years old, which stretched and stretched and fitted for years after.(The things you remember!).

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  14. Oooh what fun - never tried it out properly myself but my Mum made me a pretty dress. Your little tea cake looks more like a fairy cake in her new dress. I bet she loves it. Very pretty fabric! But curtains?! Oh no, run while there is still time. I am shuddering thinking about them. They do however have the ability to make you feel fantastically pleased with yourself once you have actually come to terms with all that fabric (that's what I hate about them - just too darn big and bulky and all that matchy matchy of pattens to get them to line up and straight line cutting, when geometry is not an A grade subject). I only did relatively small curtains so I feel you are being most brave taking it on. (People talk about "running up" curtains like it was the most simple thing in the world!) Not surprised you were diverted by the far more fun shirring project.
    Siobhan

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  15. Who cares about curtains when there are dresses to be made, much more satisfying but sadly they don't help you sleep at night! I've been wanting to do some shirring for a little while too and have bought the necessary elastic in readiness but I read somewhere that it's best to do a rolled hem. Is that what you did?

    The dress looks beautiful by the way.

    Kate x

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  16. Thank you so, so much for all your lovely comments. I just wanted to update this to say that as a few of you have emailed or commented about the shirring..how to aspect of things, then I'll try and post a tutorial next week. x

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  17. I reckon shirred knickers could work. Although maybe only at the side. Have you seen all Topshop's lovely knickers recently? There's a lot of floralness and lovely patterns, which I love as it lets me wear pretty patterns every day, whatever I'm wearing on the outside. Unfortunately I do have a compulsion to own lovely patterns but I console myself that at least knickers are affordable and I *will* wear them :)
    (this is what I mean: http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f85/dichohecho/130_5437c.jpg )

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I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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