How To Shirring Fabric [FAQs]

How To Shirring Fabric

Shirring is a sewing technique that creates a series of gathered, elasticized folds in fabric. It’s commonly used in clothing and home décor projects to add texture and interest. If you’re new to shirring, don’t worry – it’s easy to learn and can be done with just a few basic supplies.

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1. Choose your fabric. Shirring works best on lightweight, woven fabrics like cotton, linen, and rayon. Avoid heavy or stretchy fabrics.

2. Wind a bobbin with elastic thread. This is what will create the shirring effect. Use a regular thread in the top of your sewing machine.

3. Set your machine to a straight stitch. Stitch along the edge of your fabric, about ¼ inch from the edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching line.

4. Pull the elastic thread to create gathers. Gently tug on the elastic thread, pulling it away from the fabric. You should see the fabric start to gather and pucker. Continue pulling until you achieve the desired amount of shirring.

5. Repeat the process. Continue stitching and shirring rows of fabric until you’ve covered the area you want to shirr.

6. Secure your stitching. Once you’ve finished shirring, tie off the elastic thread and trim any excess. Use a regular thread to stitch along the edge of your fabric, securing the shirring in place.

7. Press your fabric. Use a warm iron to press your shirred fabric, taking care not to flatten the gathers.

8. Experiment with different shirring patterns. You can create different looks by varying the distance between your stitching lines, the amount of gathers you create, and the placement of your shirring.

9. Use shirring in your projects. Shirring can add interest and texture to clothing, home décor, and accessories like bags and headbands.

10. Practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts at shirring aren’t perfect. With practice, you’ll master this fun and versatile sewing technique.


Can I use a serger to shirr fabric?

No, shirring requires the use of elastic thread and a regular sewing machine.

Do I need a special needle to shirr fabric?

No, you can use a regular needle in your sewing machine.

Can I shirr knits or stretch fabrics?

No, shirring works best on lightweight, woven fabrics.

How do I know how much fabric to use for shirring?

As a general rule, you’ll need about three times the length of fabric as the finished shirred area.

Can I shirr curves or circles?

Yes, but it can be trickier to achieve even gathers. Practice on straight lines first before attempting curves or circles.

How do I clean and care for shirred fabric?

Shirring can be delicate, so it’s best to hand wash or machine wash on a gentle cycle. Avoid using a hot dryer, as this can damage the elastic thread.

Can I shirr with a decorative thread?

Yes, using a decorative thread can add an extra pop of color or texture to your shirring.

Can I shirr without elastic thread?

No, elastic thread is what creates the shirring effect. Without it, your fabric will not gather.

Can I shirr without a sewing machine?

No, shirring requires the use of a sewing machine to create the stitching lines.


Shirring is an easy and affordable way to add texture and interest to your sewing projects. It requires only a few basic supplies and can be done by sewists of all skill levels.


1. Practice on scrap fabric before starting your project.

2. Use a longer stitch length when shirring, as this will make it easier to pull the elastic thread and create gathers.

3. Be patient – shirring can take time and practice to get right.


Shirring is a simple and fun sewing technique that can add a lot of visual interest to your projects. With a little practice and patience, you’ll be shirring like a pro in no time!

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