Tips & Tricks: Shirring with Elastic Thread

Friday, May 29, 2015

Since I was in the middle of a Hailey top for our knit binding tips and tricks, I thought I would continue with some shirring tips.



Shirring with elastic thread results in a stretchy, comfortable style with added texture. It is a simple technique that only requires elastic thread. I'll start with some basic tips for shirring then give you some troubleshooting ideas at the bottom.


First, you will need to wind the elastic thread onto a bobbin by hand using a steady rhythm, not too tight and not too loose. I try to hold is just past the point of stretching, but not tight at all.


I also like to place the spool of elastic thread on the extra thread holder of my machine to hold it in place while I wind the bobbin by hand.


Wind the thread back and forth on the width of the bobbin keeping it neat and tidy. You can see my threads aren't spread all over the place.

Place the bobbin in your machine, and you are ready to go. Here are the general guidelines:

  • Shirring works well with light weight fabrics only, knit or woven.
  • Use a regular thread for the top in a color that matches your fabric.
  • Use your longest machine stitch and regular tension. 
  • With the garment right side up, line the edge of your presser foot up so that the needle will enter about 1/4" away from your seam or edge. Use the seam as a guide to make your first row of shirred stitches across the entire width of the garment. Backstitch at the beginning.



For the Hailey pattern, the back and front of the top/dress are sewn together on one side with the opposite side open. This allows you to sew the shirring in place while the top is flat. I will give another tip at the end if you are sewing in the round.

Once you've sewn the first row of shirring, trail off the fabric slightly, rotate your garment (with the right side still up) and use the previous row of stitching as your new guide to line up the edge of your presser foot.


As you can see, the first row the elastic will not pull very tight.


As you continue to add rows of shirring the elastic will start to gather more. As you sew, keep the fabric flat under your needle. The more rows of shirring you sew, then more gathered the fabric will be.

Once you've sewn the desired number of rows of shirring backstitch at the end of the row. Now, if you've never shirred before and you are anxious that the fabric has not gathered enough, run your hot iron with steam over the rows of stitching. You will see the fabric shrink up more like magic!


Personally, I like to complete the garment before I give the final steam. I just find it a bit easier to sew before it is fully gathered. So, the photo above is the completed garment before steaming.


This photo is after running over the stitches with a steamy iron. Magic, right?!?

If you are sewing a garment in the round instead of flat, stitch one row all the way around. As you come to the end of the row, angle the fabric down to continue to the next row. Essentially you are sewing a spiral, but the rows should remain parallel except at the side seam where you angle the fabric down.

Here are a few additional tips for troubleshooting if you are having trouble:
  • Switch to a new needle.
  • Re-thread your entire machine,
  • Make sure your bobbin is not overly full.
  • Make sure your tension is at the normal setting.
  • Make sure your fabric is lightweight.
  • Check your sewing machine manual for any special instructions.
  • Use your longest stitch length.

In addition to the Hailey Girls, Tween, and Misses patterns, these shirring tips would be helpful for the FREE Modkid Sunny Days tank and the Modkid Bailey Romper.

Tips & Tricks: Knit Binding

Friday, May 22, 2015

I learned a new tricks that I'm excited to share with you today. It's the perfect finish for a Hailey top or dress when you are sewing with woven fabrics. Knit binding!!



I love this technique for the smooth finish, but also for the soft feel. T-shirt scraps are cheaper than pre-made bias tape too!


I'm using the Modkid Hailey to illustrate the knit binding technique, so I started with the bodice with the front seam still un-sewn. You will also need a 1" strip of knit fabric.


Pin the wrong side of the knit to the right side of the bodice aligning the raw edges.


Stitch the binding to the neckline with a 1/2" seam allowance.


Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and clip the curve.


Press the seam to the wrong side and the binding away from the neckline.


Press the knit binding to the wrong side of the bodice rolling the seam to the inside slightly, so the binding will not be visible from the right side.


Stitch the binding down from the right side with a 3/8" seam allowance.


Trim the knit binding if needed. The knit edge will not fray, so you are done!


Close up the neck per the pattern instructions.



Of course, this technique isn't limited to Hailey Girls! We would suggest it for Hailey Misses, Hailey Tween, and Josie. It would work great for binding an arm hole as well!

Free Casserole Carrier Pattern

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Patty is back from quilt market, and she's sharing a little quilt market treat with us just in time for your Memorial Day festivities! Of course the new Vivid Canvas is a perfect match, but any bottom weight woven will make a great casserole carrier. Casserole carriers would make perfect teacher gifts as well! Grab the free Casserole Carrier Pattern.


Modkid Styled - Sun & Surf Tote

Friday, May 15, 2015

I hope you got excited about the new Vivid Canvas by Patty Young for Riley Blake when we announced it! Canvas is absolutely perfect for sewing up totes, so we thought we'd bring you a little beachy, nautical style with the Modkid Sun & Surf tote. The pattern is available in both PDF form and paper. Plus, we have a handy sew-along to reference on the blog. 


  1. Navy Canvas
  2. Red Canvas
  3. Towel
  4. Hat
  5. Flip Flops
  6. Water Bottle

Malibu Sew-Along // Results and Winners

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We are so thrilled to see so many cute Malibu dresses show up for the sew-along!! Many of the participants challenged themselves to try knits for the first time. And, one even sewed two versions!!


The first participation prize of 5 Modkid PDF patterns goes to Carolyn Jordan. The second participation prize of 3 Modkid PDF patterns goes to Noor Raats. Congratulations!!


I have collected all of the sew-along posts in our Malibu Sew-Along Page, so you can access them at any time in the side bar of the blog. As always, our Modkid Fan Group loves to see what you make!

Going to Market

Monday, May 11, 2015

Plans are being made, bags are being packed, and creativity is converging in Minneapolis, Minnesota for International Quilt Market Spring 2015 next weekend. Patty is packing up some exciting things of her own!

You've already been introduced to Vivid Knits for Riley Blake. Well, these two dresses will be making an appearance at quilt market to reintroduce the Penny knit dress pattern. It is the same quick-sew, beginner friendly, lots of options dress it has always been, with a brand new cover featuring the lovely Vivid knits. 


Patty didn't stop with knits as she planned her Vivid prints!! Allow me to introduce Vivid Canvas by Patty Young for Riley Blake!! We can imagine the bright colorful prints on clutches, pouches, totes, coats, home decor, and more. 


Speaking of coats, another lovely pattern had a little face lift! The Paige blazer and hooded jacket looks so bright and fresh in this pretty canvas print. 


Stay tuned for a new FREE pattern featuring VIVID Canvas! Patty will be revealing this at Quilt Market this weekend, and then we will share it here for all of you to make. In the meantime, tell us what you would make with Vivid Canvas.


Malibu Sew Along // Day 5

Friday, May 08, 2015


The final day of the Malibu sew-along has arrived! Let's wrap things up!!


With the skirt wrong side out and the bodice right side out, slide the bodice inside the skirt and pin right sides together. Don't let the photo above confuse you! I flipped everything out to show you how close the back pieces should be when the bodice is pinned in place. The space between the back bodice pieces should be 1". All raw edges and side seams should be aligned.


Stitch the skirt to the bodice with a wide zig-zag stitch over the elastic. You will need to stretch the elastic to fit the bodice as you sew, but do not stretch the bodice fabric.


Turn the dress right sides out. Fold the area between the cross-back pieces to the wrong side encasing the elastic. Using a wide zig-zag stitch, sew the folded section down just between the back bodice pieces.


Hem the dress using your favorite method. Be sure to check out our favorite knit hemming tips! Here, I used washable hem tape to help with pressing a crisp edge and a twin stretch needle.

We can't wait to see your finished product!!

Be sure to add your photos of your completed Malibu to our Facebook Group before Monday, May 11th to be entered to win one of the prizes. You can share photos on Facebook and Instagram with hashtag #malibusewalong. We will post the winners next week!

See the rest of the Malibu Sew-Along here:

Malibu Sew-Along // Day 4

Thursday, May 07, 2015


We're moving on to the skirt today!! Note: All seam allowances are 1/2" unless noted otherwise.


Place two skirt panels right sides together. Pin and stitch along one long side only. Finish the seam and press it to one side. Open up the skirt panel on your work surface.


Mark the center of your elastic. Pin the center of the elastic at the skirt seam 1/4" from the top raw edge. Pin the two ends to the side edges of the skirt. Stretch the elastic to be even with the skirt panels and pin in several places in between keeping the elastic 1/4" from the top raw edge of the skirt.


Stitch the elastic to the skirt panels with a wide zig-zag stitch stretching the elastic as you go. You want the elastic stretched and the fabric flat but unstretched. Backstitch at each end to secure the elastic.


Fold the skirt panels right sides together and stitch the other side of the skirt closed. Finish the seam.

Tomorrow we will attach the skirt to the bodice and finish!

See the rest of the Malibu Sew-Along here:

We’d love to see your progress!! Show us your photos in our Facebookgroup. You can also share photos on Facebook and Instagram tagged #malibusewalong.

Malibu Sew-Along // Day 3

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Today we will apply all of the bias tape you so diligently pressed yesterday.


With the bodice wrong side out, open up the bias tape and pin the right side of the bias to the wrong side of the bodice starting at the bottom of the back opening. Continue pinning all the way around the bodice, over the shoulders, and around the neckline. You will end up back at the bottom on the other side of the back bodice. Trim off the excess bias tape.


Stitch the bias tape to the bodice along the first crease line. Pay extra attention to the narrow shoulder areas, so you do not catch the bias for the other side in your seam. Go slowly and do not stretch your fabric as you go. For knit fabrics, I use a longer straight stitch with stretch thread in the bobbin.


Turn the bodice right side out and begin folding the bias tape to the right side using your creases as a guide. The raw edges should be completely encased by the bias tape.


Stitch along the inner fold of the bias tape. With knit fabrics, use a wide zig-zag or other stretch stitch. I used a triple stretch stitch with stretch thread in the bobbin of my machine.

If you are using FOE here, you will fold the FOE around the raw edges and stitch it with a stretch stitch stretching the FOE ever so slightly as you go.

See the rest of the Malibu Sew-Along here:


We’d love to see your progress!! Show us your photos in our Facebookgroup. You can also share photos on Facebook and Instagram tagged #malibusewalong.

Malibu Sew-Along // Day 2

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Unless you are using pre-made bias tape or fold-over elastic (FOE), we've got a little bit of tedious work to start off day two. It will all be worth it though!!

Hopefully you've already cut your strips from Day 1. You will need to join strips to result in 2.5 yards of bias for sizes 2T to 5 and 3 yards for sizes 6 to 12. Woven fabric strips cut on the bias need to be joined at an angle. Knit fabric strips cut on the straight width of the fabric can be joined straight at the short ends.


Now, you will take your long skinny strips and start pressing. For knit bias, I highly recommend using spray starch to get crisp folds. First, press the strip in half long ways with wrong sides together to form a center crease. Open up the strip and fold both of the long edges in to the center crease. Press well. Finally, fold the strip in half again lengthwise encasing the raw edges. Press again. Bet you're glad that's done! Now, you can set it aside for a moment.


If you are sewing with knits for the first time, be sure to reference Patty's Tips for Sewing with Knits.

Note: All seam allowances are 1/2" unless noted otherwise.

Lay your front bodice on the table with the right side facing up. Lay one back bodice down right sides together aligning the shoulder and side edge. Stitch across the shoulder and down the sides of the bodice.


Lay the opposite back bodice piece right sides together with the front bodice overlapping the back bodice piece you just sewed. Stitch across the shoulder and down the side. Finish the seams with a serger or zig-zag stitch. Press the seam allowances to one side. 

Tomorrow we will be attaching that lovely strip of bias tape you created.

See the rest of the Malibu Sew-Along here:

We’d love to see your progress!! Show us your photos in our Facebookgroup. You can also share photos on Facebook and Instagram tagged #malibusewalong.

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