Shonky Shirring…


Well… what can I say. My attempt at shirring was a big fat F for fail I’m afraid.
I’m tempted to add in a couple of other S words to join in the alliteration to describe just how unsuccessful my attempt was, but something tells me that would just be bad form on my blog & I’d regret it later!! So “shonky” it is…. 😉 LOL…

Let me show you how it went since a picture paints 1000 words…

Dismal tension…
big knots!!
Mega horrific repeated jams that nearly broke my machine 🙁

So as you can see… not a roaring success!
Lucky I used one of “my uglies” to practice on and not straight gung-ho onto the dress like I normally would!!

I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. I followed an online tute then in desperation even got out my A-Z of sewing book but neither set of instructions worked… I suspect it could be something to do with my machines automatic tension control (which the rest of the time is just awesome). My machine just doesn’t seem to like thicker threads because it doesn’t cope well with top stitching thread either.

Any suggestions would be marvellous!! (I use a brother just in case anyone else has run into these problems and overcome them).

But all was not lost. It did prompt me to finally ring my thread lady and organise to pick up some more thread, which I’ve been putting off for weeks. Janet is lovely and you can find her website here… I also get my rhinestones from her. These threads are half the price of Gutterman but equally as good quality and my machine likes them very much.

So I stocked up.

And finally… I pushed myself to finish something yesterday after all that fluffing about and managed to finish 3 simple dresses for Saturday’s market…


I think I’ll be keeping it at that for now on the apparel front until I have more time to devote to making something a bit more exciting.
Yip, I better focus on projects I know since I have a deadline – more pouches anyone?! 😉


  1. I just had my first attempt at shirring too and I found that making sure I had a new needle, my machine was clean, and the tension was turned up helped a lot. I usually sew with my upper threat at 4 to 4.4, but I went up to 5 and it made a HUGE difference in how everything looked.

  2. I like the singlet dress you’ve made. Thanks for the link to Rhinestones and Threads. I had never heard of Rasant Thread. It is so much cheaper than Guttermann, so I’m going to give it a go.

  3. I am no help, could not figure it out (I had a brother as well) everyone tells me it’s because of the top loading bobbin Hubby’s machine (not a top loading) does it amazing

  4. Sorry, I am no help for clothing sewing, much less shirring. Ye gads your machine did NOT like that at all!!
    The 3 dresses are very cute, so all was not lost, right? Right!

  5. Oooops 🙂 I can definitely say that I have not tried shirring and from the difficulty level I don’t think I will be either. I love that blue dress…so cute! Do you do a regular market?

  6. I made myself two shirred skirts. Loved the process but the skirts made me look like I had a giiiiiinormous bottom so I’ve not worn them. I followed the tute on Flossiblossoms blog I think. It all worked for me. Hardest thing for me was working out how much fabric to use – despite the recommendations. I want to try again with voile because hopefully that won’t give me the fat arse effect. 😉

  7. Sorry to hear about your shirring debacle. I have enough problems with the tension on my Pfaff, I will never try shirring on it.
    I almost always use Rasant because the Pfaff is very particular about which thread I use. I really like the Rasant, lucky!

  8. I can’t help you with your shirring dilemma because it’s not something I have ever done (nor would I even attempt it) but I do hope someone gives you some wonderful advice to help you get shirring to your hearts content.

    Marg introduced me to Rasant thread and I’m a complete convert. It’s lovely to sew and quilt with.

    Verryyyyyyy cute dresses!

  9. Oh I also had shirring horrors, although I discovered it was partly because Brothers don’t do tension right for them, so you need to adjust the lower tension by hand. I’ve now pinned the tutorial on this, but not yet had another shot at the shirring

  10. Hey Kat, I gave shirring a go yesterday as well, and it worked!! Go figure…. Im a total novice sewer so it has nothing to do with experience lol! I’d say it was your machine.. I have a VERY simple Janome, and it worked VERY well! Question, did you hand wind your bobbin?
    Also, I LOVE the Blue dress, what size is it?? If its Em’s size then SOLD hahaha I will be popping down to the markets on Saturday, should be a good day!
    Bec xxx

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