This week the lid has been lifted on the sewing box releasing a rainbow of threads and smorgasbord of fabrics.  The project?  Apparently one of the easiest garments you could ever attempt: the shirred skirt.  Just how easy is it?  Well…

Having done my research online (because, where else would you do it?) I got my fabric, shirring elastic and thread, then I thought about it for a couple of days.

My research had revealed conflicting advice on what to do to make this shirred skirt and so during my essential procrastination period I decided that a) the skirt would be better if it was lined and b) that because my bobbin holder is a side loader that I would wind a bobbin of shirring elastic by hand.  (Apparently if you have a flat loading facility the tension from machine winding a bobbin is better than doing so by hand.)

Having made my essential decisions, I measured T’s little waist and cut out two rectangles from both the main and the lining fabrics with a width that was 1.5 times the waist measurement and a length that was T’s desired length (too short in my opinion, man I’ve got old!) plus 20mm hem allowance top and bottom.  Then I sewed the side seams together to create a continuous loop, first with the main fabric then with the lining.   So far so easy.

Next job was to attach the lining to the main fabric.  This is always tricky and always mashes my brain cells.  Working out whether they should be right side facing together or not usually causes the magical disappearance of an hour of my life.  I talk myself in and out of the decision numerous times and finally settle on right sides together.  Perhaps I should have a sign up in my sewing room that simply says ‘if in doubt, right sides together’ (does anyone have such a sign???).   Eventually the fabrics were joined and seams all pressed out.  Then I hemmed both main fabric and lining – boy was this skirt was going to be a mini one.


Finally, the moment I had been waiting for, I loaded the bobbin, that I had hand wound with the shirring elastic into the machine and prepared myself for the magic to happen, or for the disaster to occur.  shirringEssentially a straight running stitch, not a lot happened on the first row.  The second row, the elastic started to contract and so to keep the fabric flat a little more pressure was needed in guiding the fabric under the presser foot and into the path of the needle.  I continued stitching until I had sewn 12 rows leaving a width of 3mm between each row to create a pretty waistband.  I think that because the lining and the main fabric were shirred together the gathering that occurred was reasonably loose and so I pressed with a hot iron and this helped the elastic to contract a little more.  So there we have it.  Shirred skirt, done.

shirred skirt

Was it easy?  Yep.  Would I do it again?  Yep.  Would I line the next one?  Probably not, unless the fabric was a really light lawn, I don’t think the cotton that I used for this skirt needed the lining as well and it probably would have gathered a little tighter if I hadn’t.  Could T, as a novice sewer, do this project?  Yep, I reckon she could, although she would probably need a little help with keeping the fabric flat and the stitch line straight as the shirring occurred.