Sunday, 23 March 2014


The excitement of my recent foray into French seams has now been matched by a new adventure, with shirring elastic! (#threadgeek) Having experimented the 'pattern's way' to achieve some gathers in the central, contrast panel of my 'nearly there' Marci Tilton number, it was decided that a trial with some shirring elastic would be worth a go. The results were much better and the cause of some machine-side jubilation. In fact I went a step further, adding a couple of extra rows of gathering to the pattern's direction, just because I could ;0)

Having wound the shirring elastic on to your bobbin by hand, (and this needs to be done adding some tension on the thread), you then sew away with a straight line of stitches in the usual way. I had a play with stitch lengths on a piece of scrap fabric first. Once you have done your first row, you then need to hold the fabric out straight again for the next row and thereafter. The effect is pretty and very gratifying for such an easy sew. Also, far less fiddly than the pattern's direction of securing a piece of heavier top stitch thread at each end, then sewing a zig zag stitch over the top, (taking care not to catch the top stitch thread as you go) and then pulling the thread each end to achieve the gathers. 
Initially I thought I preferred the zig zag feature that this creates, but having worked with elastic thread and seeing the magic 'gathering' itself before your eyes, I don't think I will be looking back. It is just worth remembering that as you are working with a thicker, elastic thread, you can get to the end of your bobbin sooner than expected and yes, that happened mid-row this very afternoon! As a wise sewing instructor once said : ''you do your best sewing with an empty bobbin''! It was quickly remedied however  ;o)
Only other thought so far is that the pattern asks for a small dart at the top of this central panel, over which the gathers, or shirring is placed. Given that darts are usually inserted to give a bit of extra shaping and we have the shirring doing the work in that department here, I am not convinced it is necessary. Moreover, it also creates a 'break' in the rows of gathers. If I were to make another, I think I would forego this element.
Next stop was sewing the contrast panel into the rest of the dress - it now looks less 'dressing gown' and more like the Marci Tilton number it set out to be !

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