First off, I want to apologize to those whose comments I deleted when I originally made this post late last night. I made a few wrong decisions with that and I am sorry. I did not know that this method is considered shirring as well because I've never seen it on ready to wear. I learned something from you and I thank you for that. I'm sorry.
Now on to the post.
I have tried several methods of shirring and have yet to get the right results.....that is until I discovered this method of shirring. Essentially you are creating several elastic casings in a row. I tried using elastic thread hand wound on my bobbin with both a regular stitch and a zig-zag stitch then steaming it. I tried doing a regular zig-zag stitch over elastic thread. I tried stitching over elastic I had stretched out. Nothing seemed to be working for me and I couldn't figure out why others got it to work, but I kept failing at it. Then, I discovered the method I am about to show you below. It seems fool proof to me and it actually works! It does give you the same look and feel as the usual method of shirring used. It does the exact same job as the usual method of shirring as well. The only draw back is that it does tend to be bulkier and heavier then the usual method, but it is not noticable if pressed correctly and when worn.
1) a pattern of your choice and the items listed on the back of the pattern envelope
2) about a yard of extra fabric for the shirring panel
3) needle and thread or a sewing machine with machine needles and thread
4) about 3 yards of 5/8 inch elastic
5) a ruler
6) fabric chalk or any washable fabric marking device
7) fabric shears
8) a safety pin no wider then your elastic
9) stick pins
10) choice of small quality lace to go along the back shirring panel and original back peices
Sorry about the flash on some of my photos. Please ignore my bad nails as well. I've been working with sewing supplies and my nails always take a beating. I'm getting a manicure tomorrow tho. Yippee! lol
1) The first thing you are going to want to do is make a shirring panel for the back and prepare your back peice. All I do is using a pattern, I either cut the pattern peice for the back down the middle and snip off 1 1/2 inches on both sides or simply snip off 1 1/2 inches off of both sides where the back closure (usually a zipper) was going to be. This gives me 3 inches of room to install my shirring panel later. I then cut 2 peices of fabric 6 inches wide for my shirring panel. Make sure both peices are the exact length of the original back peice on the pattern.
2) Next, mark lines all the way down one peice of your shirring panel length wise 6/8 of an inch apart from each other using your ruler and your washable fabric marking utensil. I do these on the right side for this, but you will usually mark on the wrong side. It also may be wise to use the same colored marking utensil as the thread you will be using later. It can easily be concealed if your marking marks do not wash out completely.
3) Next stitch both peices of fabric together with wrong sides together along those lines you just made with thread in a color that coordinates with your fabric choice. I am using red because it both goes with my fabric choice and it is easily visible for this tutorial. I used a straight stitch with a 1.6 stitch length and the width set to 0.
Your elastic is going to just fit in between the lines you are stitching and this is what you want.
4) Grab your elastic and attach the safety pin to one end of it. This will help you thread it through those tight casings you just made.
The casings should look like this.
5) Now, close the safety pin and using the safety pin, thread the elastic through the very top casing between two of the stitch lines you just made.
When the end of the elastic meets the end of the fabric, pin it in place.
Carefully arrange the gathers evenly across the casing as you continue threading the elastic through using the safety pin. You should be able to grab the safety pin through the fabric with one hand and be able to move the elastic on through by pushing fabric over it with the other hand and pulling on the safety pin with your first hand while holding the elastic in place with your second hand (Hope this bit makes sense?).
Once you get to the end, pull the elastic through, remove the safety pin and pin the elastic even with the fabric as you did in the beginning.
After arranging the gathers evenly, it should look like this.
6) Skip a casing (area between stitched lines) and begin threading a second peice of elastic through just as you did before.
Here is what it should look like. There is no elastic in that middle casing that is gathered. It is in the two on the ends of the gathered area.
Continue doing this all the way down.
This is what it should look like once you have them all done this way all the way down.
7) Now you are going to carefully stitch over the elastic and remove the pins that were temporarily holding it in place. DO NOT STITCH OVER THE PINS! There is the possibility of a broken needles flying towards you and hurting you. Be VERY careful! Before removing the pins, make sure you have the needle in the down position on the elastic. This will hold the elastic in place while you remove the pin. Only remove the pins once you are very close to them. I had to sew very slowly and each time turn off my machine and lift the pressure foot to remove the pins because my needle was so close to them and my pressure foot was over them. I did this so I would not ruin all the work I did putting the elastic into the casings. You will be very mad at yourself if you end up having to re-thread the elastic through those casings again, so be very careful with this step and work slowly.
Here is what it will look like once it is done and you have no more pins. Only your stitches are holding the elastic in place.
8) Now using your choice of lace, stitch it down to the shirring panel edges. I stitched along the stitched lines I made in the previous step.
9) Now stitch on your back peice. Again, I followed my original stitching lines.
10) Finally, trim or finish your seam allowances and press everything towards the side seams on the inside (this is the easiest way to press this). Use a press clothe if you have one. Be very careful not to scorch your fabric of lace.
You can thread ribbon corset style on top of the shirring panel if you like or just keep it like this.
Now, you can finish making your garment as instructed or planned. You have done shirring that looks, feels, and functions like the usual methods of doing it in a way that is much sturdier and easier to execute!