Shirred skirt tutorial

Firstly I have to say, I am no seamstress, so the tutorial might not be by the book. I read something on the internet, books, watched some videos and came up with my own way which I would like to share with you.

I sew mostly patchwork, I am scared of the clothes, because they mostly don’t turn out well. However, I read, that this skirt fits every figure, it is easy to sew, especially for beginners, so I tried it, it was easy and it fits nicely. I have apple shaped figure, I wear size 44-46 so I thought, well this might turn out to be a disaster, all this shirring in waist area…but in the end, it looks nice, because the skirt fits my bodyshape like a glove in the shirred area and the fabric falls nicely from the below belly part where I am not that big.

So here we go.The meassurements are for my size 44-46, but the skirt would fit 42-48

You will need:

Fabric: if 150cm wide, you’ll need the lenght of your skirt+5cm for seam allowance, plus count with some shrinkage. I am 165 cm tall, I wanted my skirt to end just below the knees (I heard, the skirt should end at place, where your legs are thinnest or nicest, my nice area is just below knees, it doesn’t look like I have bigger tights). So my skirt would be 60cm long, I bought 80 cm of the fabric.

If the fabric width is 110cm, you will need double of the above, meaning 80×2 – 160cm

Scissors and/or rotary cutter
Small safety pin
Fabric pen to make markings- I used the one which disappers with water
Matching thread
Thin elastic band, the lenght approx. your waist lenght
Elastic thread for shirring. Be careful, it is the thicker thread, there is another elastic thread, which is thin, for sewing elastic fabrics. I bought the one from Gutermann- 10m were just so so for the skirt, maybe buy two just to be sure.
Sewing machine

1/If you bought fabric, which shrinks, like cotton, prewash it. The lighter is the fabric, the more effective is the shirring. I worked with 100% cotton fabric, 110cm wide.

2/Cut the fabric to the desired lenght of skirt +5cm, in my case 65cm. So I cut two pieces 65x 80 cm and I sew it on one shorter side, so I ended up with single piece 65*approx.155 cm. If you work with 150cm wide fabric, you save yourself the step, you just cut a strip 65cm wide, you have it already 150cm long.

Shirred skirt01

3/ I decided to make on the top of the skirt a tunnel where I put a firmer elastic band, so that I feel more secure, that the skirt doesn’t fall from my waist. So I marked 3cm from the top and marked a line.Shirred skirt02

4/Approx 0.5 cm from top I sew a small button hole through wich I at the end insert the elastic band.Shirred skirt03

5/ Fold the fabric like you see below and sew along the edge. However not completelyto the ends of fabric, leave there so 5 cm at each end.Shirred skirt04

Here you can see that I left the ends unsewn. The reason is, that when you sew the tunnel till the end and then at the end sew together the ends od the fabrics to finish the skirt, you sew through the tunnel and close it with the stitches. So I finish the tunnel at the end.Shirred skirt05

6/ On the right side of the fabric I drew 7 lines 1.5cm apart. I actually sew 8 lines of the shirring, but I sew the first one just milimeters beow the first stitch of the tunnel. So the stitch is first line and from that each 1,5cm another 7 lines. I used pen, which dissappears with water.Shirred skirt07

7/ Thread your machine. Top hread is the matching one and the bootom the elastic thread. You mus wind the thread on bobin manually, slightly pulling on the thread. It cannot be completely loose, but neither stretched. You enter it in the machine like usually any other thread. I read on some blogs, that there is a problem with shirring on Brother machines, you need to check it out on the internet. On my Janome it worked just fine. You need to set the lenght of the stitch to longer. My usual stitch is 2,2 I changes it to 3,5

Pull the thread to the top and you can start sewing.Shirred skirt08

As you sew along the lines, pull the already shirred fabric straight piece by piece. It is possible to sew it without drawing the lines, but I didn’t do it that nicely straight without them.

At end and beginning of each line I left few cm of the thred and made two knots to secure the elastic and top thread. Just to be sure.

If you run out of the elastic thread in the middle, don’t worry. Pull the top thread to the wrong side of fabric and make a knot. Start sewing on the same place and make the same process, pull the beginning of the thread to the wrong side of fabric and make knot.

When you finish all 8 lines, change the stitch lenght to  short, I changed to 1,4 and sew along the edges of fabric to secure the threds even more, then cut them shorter.Shirred skirt10

8/ Sew the skirt together along the one edge.

9/ Now sew the botton edge. I used again 2.5 cm  or 1 inch line, to help me with the fold, you can use your own method. In this step you can try on the skirt and check if the lenght is OK, if you want it shorter, then cut.Shirred skirt11

10/ Then sew the bottom hem.Shirred skirt12

11/Now it is the time to finish the tunnel. Just fold the fabric in the same way like before and sew it together.Shirred skirt13

12/Now the important part. You might have a feeling that the skirt doesn’t stretch that much. But it is OK.Shirred skirt14

From 150cm full lenght, also 75 (half – one side of the skirt), we got with the shirring to 44 cm.Shirred skirt15

Now take the iron, set it on full steam, and press and steam it. Don’t go withthe iron forwards and backwards like when ironing, just press and steam. You will see the shirring tightening in front of your eyes. It is now much tighter and stretchier and we are at 37-38 cm. Remember, the skirt can still stretch quite much, that’s why it is suitable for bigger sizes too.

And because I used water dissolable pen all the time, the lines disappear with the steaming.

If you sew it for someone slimmer, I would start with shorter fabric at the beginning (not 150cm like me)Shirred skirt17

13/ And as I mentioned at the beginning, I fel more secure, when I have a stronger elastic band on top. So I cut a piece so that it sits nice around my waist, but not too tight, and with help of the safety pin I pulled it through the tunnel and sewed the edges together with zig zag stitch.Shirred skirt18

And voila, skirt is finished.

Shirred skirt19

And I made another two, for my friends and I think many others will get them for Christmas 🙂

And this is how it looks on me… the picture is not very artistic, but just to get an idea:

shirred skirt

So good luck sewing, I believe you can do a lot with this technique, dresses and cute skirts for little girls…




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