Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shirring tutorial

First of all, for those who are waiting to see our Hawaii photos... they are coming I promise! I have them uploaded and now they need captions... I hope to get them up tonight too.  In the meantime I have been doing LOTS of sewing this week.  I actually made a few things for ME... I have photos coming soon of those projects.  Today though I made a pair of shorties for 'lil Miss.  While I am not a huge fan of ruffle leggings, I must admit that these are rather adorable!  I sewed up a pair to show Auntie Krystal a little trick in sewing them.  I took some photos for some sewing ladies..... this won't apply to 90% of my readers so just look at the cute photos of my daughter and come back for Hawaii photos! 
Wishing for warm weather.... it actually was pretty nice while taking these photos... so don't worry she didn't freeze!

So comfy, perfect for jumping around in!!!

So here goes:  Please excuse the bad lighting, I did what I could but there was no daylight left when I decided to actually take the photos.

I shirred the ruffles and used elastic thread in the bobbin to sew the ruffles on.  This way there is lots of give to the legs which makes them WAY more comfortable.  If your kids are anything like mine, there is lots of jumping, climbing and running done during the day.  Not to mention they dress themselves... so without give, these would very easily tear.

Lifting up the top ruffle.  You can see the bottom ruffle and a little glimpse of the elastic thread under the top ruffle.

The inside of the leg.  Elastic thread with NO gathering.  That is the goal and what many are struggling with.

Inside out.  This is just a legging pattern cut off with ruffles added. Notice that the inside part even though it has elastic thread it is NOT gathered at all.  We don't want bloomers, we want shorts!

Welcome to my little sewing corner.  Excuse the little mess... I am mid-projects. The little doggy poking its head out has a little hole that needs mended!  The kids know were the animal hospital is!
 Also notice my sewing foot... this is a walking foot. I can't say enough how much I love this while sewing with knits. It is also called a dual feed foot. It feeds the fabric from the top and the bottom keeping it even. A common problem when sewing with fabric that stretches is the bottom layer will feed faster than the top layer causing it to bunch up.  You can lift your foot and adjust it, however, the walking foot feeds both at the same time and evenly. WELL worth the investment if you are sewing with knits much.
All sewing machines are different but I hope this helps some of you.  I have a Viking sewing machine with a drop in bobbin.  When the thread is loaded it should look like this (without the cover on of course).  The arrow is pointing to the thread.  The thread winds through a little metal piece, this is what controls the tension. You hand wind on the elastic thread to the bobbin.  Two things when shirring... make sure that you have a bit of an elastic tail when you start and backstitch a few times to really secure it.  The tail you will tie into a knot after you are all done to keep it from unraveling.  Secondly and most importantly: I have to make sure that my machine pulls the thread through and it stays hooked on the metal part that controls the tension.  I have found that over half the time the machine wants to grab the elastic thread and pull it off the tension feed.  You will NOT be able to have a successful shir without it hooked on the tension part.  Basically the way that shirring works is the tension is tight enough that while sewing the elastic is stretched so that it gathers up the fabric.

To shir the piece just like the piece laying on the machine I set my straight stitch length to 5 (single arrow. 2.5 is the preset and it goes up to a number 6 stitch length).  The two arrows are pointing to my two tension knobs, I have them set a little bit higher than normal.  Normal is 4 and I have them set to 6.  They go as high as 10 but I have found that my machine doesn't need it to be adjusted that much.

After you sew your ruffle you should get something similar to this.  I also at this point will go to my iron and blast it with steam.  I don't SET my iron on it but just hold it above it and steam it.  This will cause the ruffles to get a little bit tighter/elastic to shrink up a bit.

NOW it is time to sew those ruffles to the bottom of the shorts.  I still want the elastic thread in the bobbin... this time though, take a look at the thread.  I take it OFF of the tension hook!!!  This is my little trick to making sure it doesn't gather.  I don't really want my shorts to become bloomers because they gather at the bottom.

I change my stitch length back to 4 (this is my typical stitch length with knits) and my tension knobs back to 3 (a little looser).  In reality the tension knobs don't matter since your elastic thread is taken off the tension hook inside with the bobbin!

This is what I get.  A normal straight stitch......

With elastic on the back so that it still has plenty of give.

As you can see, I can really stretch the fabric and because of the elastic thread on the back it stretches too. No more popped stitches because you have kids that love to play in their Mommy made shorts!!
I hope this helps some.  Ask if you have any questions!!
NOTE:  This is for a DROP IN bobbin.  If you have a bobbin that goes into a little case and is a side load this tutorial does NOT apply.  In order to adjust your tension down to get no gathering you would have to loosen the screw in your bobbin case... I would not recommend messing with this unless you know what you are doing!!  All machines are different and I am sure your thread loads different than mine.  What you need to pay attention to though is how your normal thread feeds through.  When you add your elastic thread make sure that it is catching on whatever controls your tension by the drop in bobbin in order to shir... aka it is loading the same way as your regular thread.  If you do NOT want gathers then just make sure that it does NOT catch on the tension part.


Sew Pretty Dresses said...

You are so smart! I have been wanting to adapt my Portabellopixie ruffle pant pattern to a knit pattern for a while so I hopped over to see how you did these. I already had the elastic thread for the gathering part figured out from another garment I made a while back but not the attaching the ruffle to the legging part. So smart to take the elastic thread off the tension hook! BUT I am not making leggings so not sure I need to do that part, these are going to be flared. I like how you stacked the ruffles. That was actually the part I was coming to check on to make sure I had it right. Thank you for sharing your techniques!