85F3CE96-2B73-4819-B350-FD64F4FBC6D4 .Quiltscapes.: Shall We Gather III ~ Elastic & Shirring!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Shall We Gather III ~ Elastic & Shirring!

Welcome to today's Cutting Corners tutorial, sponsored by Riley Blake Designs!

Gathering with Elastic
Cutting Corners with Riley Blake DesignsGathering with E-L-A-S-T-I-C today!

Here's a slick little study to continue my sewing basics series,
"Shall We Gather?" 

 And just in case you missed the previous lessons, see Lesson I for tips to create beautiful gathers with your sewing machine.  Lesson II teaches the fun, vintage art of Smocking.  Today, we'll take a  look at a couple of different ways to install elastic, then we'll use elastic thread for another great vintage technique:  Shirring!  

gathers w/elastic
Supplies:  Fabric swatches, 1/4" elastic, RBD elastic lace ribbon, elastic thread.  Single-ply bias tape. (See list below to make the shirred sundress.)

Course Instructions:  Gathering with Elastic.
1)  Direct Application.  (I call it "Elastic Wrangling"!)
     * Cut a piece of elastic the size you want
     * Pin or baste one end of the elastic to the wrong side of fabric at the beginning edge.
     * S-t-r-e-t-c-h the elastic to the other side of fabric.

     * Relax the elastic a bit, taking up a few little gathers if necessary, then stitch, straight or zig-zag.

Gather w/Elastic
This technique works best on small areas, such as a small puffed sleeve, a neckline, or vertically at the bottom of a shirt or sleeve as a decorative detail.

Gather w/Elastic
Troubleshoot:   Hope for the best as you try to  a) keep the elastic straight,  b) keep your stitches even and straight, and c) make it to the end without running out of elastic.  Good luck with that.*Ü*

Next, we'll try this pretty little Riley Blake elastic lace ribbon

     * Use a zig-zag stitch

     * Apply elastic lace to the front of the garment to create fun look around a cuff, collar or neckline.
Gather w/Elastic
Most common problem with direct application?  Running out of elastic before you reach the end!
If the fabric where you're applying the elastic is wider than the elastic can stretch, go to method #2. 

2)  Gather with Casing.  
     * Fold over an edge of fabric and stitch a channel to feed the elastic through, OR
     * Create a casing with another piece of fabric.  In this case, I used single-fold bias tape.
Gather w/Elastic
 I like using my edge-joining foot then move the needle position to get a close, even, straight stitch.  

     * Thread elastic through casing using a bodkin or safety pin.  Tip:  Attach a pin to both ends of elastic to prevent pull-throughs!
Gather w/Elastic

      * Pin into place, then baste along edges to secure until enclosed into a seam.
Gather w/Elastic
This technique works best for any project where the fabric is wider than the elastic will stretch.  Waistbands, mostly.  A good rule of thumb is to create the casing at least 1/8" to 1/4" wider than the width of your elastic.

3)  Shirring. OK, now we'll use elastic thread for the next technique, definitely the easiest approach for gathering with elastic.  
Gather w/elastic
Look for this elastic thread product near the elastic section in fabric stores.  Experiment to find which brand works best in your machine.  The elastic thread is wound on the bobbin, with regular thread stitched on the right side of fabric.  Use this application for gathers at a waistline, neckline, cuffs, bodice, anywhere!

     * Wind elastic thread on bobbin.  Don't overstretch, but don't wind too loosely, either.
I tried both winding by hand...
Gather w/Elastic
...then with the bobbin-winder directly from the spool without lacing through the tension guide.  Worked great on the Bernina, which has a front-load bobbin case.  

gather w/Elastic

     * Bring up elastic thread, just as you would for regular bobbin thread.  Be sure to leave a good size tail for starts and stops.
Gather w/Elastic

     * Adjust stitch length for a longer stitch, about 3.5.
     * Work on a flat piece of fabric for best results.

     * Determine where you'd like your stitches to start, then begin stitching on the right side of fabric.  Elastic thread will be on the back side.
     * Backstitch a couple of stitches, just as you would do at the edge of any garment seam.
     * Stitch in straight rows, 1/4" to 1/2" apart.  (Easy to do if your print has a pattern or line to follow, such as RBD Cotton Gingham prints!)  Mark lines on the fabric, or use the edge of your presser foot to gauge the distance.
     * Flatten the fabric in front of the needle so it doesn't stitch unnecessary pleats.
 Gather w/elastic

     *When you get to the end of a row, pivot the needle and travel to the next row.  Continue until you have the number of rows or width of shirring desired.  Example:  2-3" for a waistline or cuff, 1-2" for a neckline, 6-8" or more for a bodice, etc.
Gather w/elastic

?? What if the bobbin runs out in the middle of a row?  
Gather w/elastic
Clip the threads, wind a new bobbin, then continue stitching, overlapping the end of the previous stitches about 1/2".   You could also tie a knot in the elastic if you wish.
gather w/elastic 
?? What if it doesn't look like it's doing much gathering?  
The more rows added, the more the gathers will tuck in.  Once the shirred rows are stitched, use an iron on steam setting to shrink down the elastic.  Be careful not to flatten the shirring as you press.  If you don't have a steam iron, spray a little mist then lightly press.  The elastic will shrink the stitched area to about half of it's original measurement.  

Want to make this Sweet little One-Seam Shirred Gingham Summer Sundress?  Click HERE for the full tutorial!
gather w/elastic
"Shirr" hope you enjoyed this tutorial!  Next time we'll finish the "Shall We Gather" series with a little lesson on Rouching - oooh, I know, so exciting!!  (What the heck is Rouching?  Ruching??)

In the meantime, enjoy your Summer!  Until then, Happy Sewing! 

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