Sewing and Shirring Your Fabric With Elastic Thread ๐Ÿงต

Tips to make your sewing projects stretchy with elastic thread. Talking about sewing and shirring fabric with elastic thread ๐Ÿ‘š๐Ÿ‘–๐Ÿ‘•

What is Elastic Thread?

Elastic thread is a unique type of thread that stretches and has some “give” to it. This makes elastic thread perfect for sewing knit fabrics and projects where you need the stitching to have a bit of stretch and flex with the fabric. Elastic thread is thicker than regular thread and feels smooth and slippery.

How to Use Elastic Thread for Sewing

When sewing with elastic thread, you will use it only in the bobbin and not as the top thread. This is because the elastic thread is too thick to properly run through the tension disks and take-up lever of a normal sewing machine. The bobbin with elastic thread is used in combination with regular polyester or cotton thread on top. This polyester or cotton thread on top limits the amount of stretch from the elastic thread bobbin.

To prepare your elastic thread for the bobbin, you’ll want to hand wind it onto an empty bobbin. Make sure not to over-stretch the thread as you wind it. Go slowly and don’t put too much tension on the thread. Once your bobbin is wound, load it into your machine as usual. Make sure the elastic thread is properly seated in the tension disks or grooves inside the bobbin case.

Sewing Settings for Elastic Thread

When starting to sew, it’s recommended to use a longer stitch length, around 3.0-4.0. You can also try a setting for basting if your machine offers that. The longer stitch will allow the elastic thread room to stretch and gather the fabric. If sewing multiple rows, overlap the rows slightly and move over about 1/4 inch each time. Use the edge of the presser foot as a guide.

As you sew, make sure to continually stretch the fabric flat and smooth in front of the needle. You don’t want to sew gathers or pleats with the elastic thread. Let the elastic gathering do the work. If you run low on bobbin thread, stop and tie off the elastic tails rather than risk running out mid-seam.

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Shirring Fabric with Elastic Thread

One popular application of elastic thread is shirring fabric. To shirr fabric with elastic thread, start by sewing rows of straight stitches with elastic thread in your bobbin. These rows should be evenly spaced and parallel to each other. The number of rows you sew will depend on how gathered you want the fabric to be.

Once you’ve sewn the rows, gently pull the elastic thread tails to gather the fabric. As you pull, you’ll notice the fabric bunching up beautifully, creating a shirred effect. Secure the elastic thread tails with a few knots to hold the gathers in place.

Finishing Touches for Elastic Thread

Once done sewing, use a steam iron to gently press and shrink the elastic thread. This will cinch up the stitching and create gathers. Elastic thread is perfect for adding stretchy elements like shirred bodices, waistbands, sleeve cuffs, and decorative stitching on knits. Just be sure to test your settings first and use a quality elastic thread like Dritz or Gutermann.

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