Tuesday, 11 March 2014

One crafty morning I decided to create some gorgeous shirred dresses - how to shirr on a brother sewing machine

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
Photo by Emily Tedeschi

You may have noticed in my post about joining Lil Pip Designs some very pretty shirred dresses.

These lovely dresses were made using a BOO! Designs pattern. It's a fabulous and very detailed pattern which I highly recommend, but I did run into a small issue - I sew on a computerised Brother machine, making it somewhat more difficult that usual to shirr!

If you are planning on making a shirred dress and use a brother machine you'll need to follow these steps in order to get your tension right.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
1. Slide the whole cover off so that your bobbin case can be removed (not just the little window that you would usually take off in order to drop in a bobbin).

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
 2. Remove the bobbin case.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
 3. Drop your bobbin of elastic into the case with a tail hanging out.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
4. Now this is the important step. You need to pull the tail of elastic through the tension spring. See that groove in the photo above to the right of where the elastic is coming out? You need to pull the elastic under that groove. It will pull under there very easily and then sit as it does in the photo above. Make sure that your elastic is going in the correct direction as per the diagram on your sewing machine.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
 5. Drop the bobbin case back into the machine.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother

 6. Wind your needle and use the top thread to pull the tail of elastic up.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
7. Replace the cover on the machine.

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
8. Set your stitch length and tension. Most patterns and tutorials will tell you to set your stitch length to the longest possible length. I find that having my stitch length on 4 and tension on 3 works best on my machine.

Now you are ready to start! Here are my top 3 tips for shirring:

1. Use good quality shirring elastic!

There are a couple of reasons for this. It is much less likely to snap, but probably my favourite reason is because I find that I can use my machine to wind it onto the bobbin. You will need to guide the elastic with your hand rather than threading it as you would with normal cotton, but this saves time, keeps an even tension when winding and you can fit more on your bobbin.

I buy my elastic from here.

2. The iron is your friend!

Use it shrink the elastic at the end with a blast of steam and use it press your seams in the direction you want them to go. There is nothing more annoying than finishing off your dress only to realise that your seams flipped while you were sewing and now no longer sit flat facing the back.

3. Write out the dimensions of your dress!

If you are using the BOO! Designs pattern you will see that there are some fabulous tables that detail every measurement you need, for a variety of styles in a variety of sizes. If, like me, you are easily confused by lots of numbers I suggest writing out the size and style you want and just focusing on those numbers!

Of course, if shirring isn't your thing you are a local to Melbourne, I'll be at the Huckleberry Market Extravaganza on March 15 and 16 with a whole heap of gorgeous shirred dresses for sale.

If you have any questions about the above, please leave me a comment and I'll do my best to explain.

Happy shirring!

One Crafty Morning How to Shirr on A Brother
Photo by Emily Tedeschi





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