Wednesday 20 March 2013

Shirred Overalls Tutorial

Adding to my recently acquired doming obsession (courtecy of a Christmas gift of a domer), I've gone on a shirring craze. Like the saying goes "when you're a hammer, everything is a nail".  Shirring is a relatively simple sewing technique, and while the elastic thread needed for it is a bit on the pricey side, you don't use that much of it for baby clothes.  One spool of elastic thread will probably shir a tube long enough to stack at least five babies in it.  However, I would not recommend this as an experiment.  Here's a detailed step-by-step shirring tutorial.

You will need:
  • Lightweight knit made from a natural fibre, such as cotton, modal or bamboo.  An old t-shirt would work great also.  I used a crinkle cotton with a thin, grey/charcoal stripe.
  • Sewing thread
  • Wooly nylon thread for the bobbin on the sewing machine and one of the lower loopers on the overlocker
  • Shirring elastic 
  • Twin stretch needle
  • Non-satin ribbon for shoulder strap ties.  Satin ribbons get sheared when sewn through
  • Domes or snap fasteners. 
1. Cut out the bodice.  Clearly I didn't spend too much time on pattern draughting here.  I based the measurements on an existing well-fitting garment, but added about 20% extra to the width.  Obviously you need a front and a back - the photo shows fabric folded in half.
cut out the fabric

 2.  In addition to the bodice, you need to cut out front and back facing for the straps, a crotch gusset (again, I used an existing garment as a size and shape reference) and inner leg facings that are not shown in the photo.  They need to be 3cm wide strips of fabric to span the inner leg seam (long edge along the grain). 
See, not that many pieces!

3. With the right sides together sew the sides of the garment.  Do the same with the facings for the straps.  Then with the right sides together pin the facing to the garment.  Extra-easy when front and back are identical.  Insert the ribbons into the seams of strap ends, pin in place and sew all the way around the garment.
Sewn sides and straps

Turn the right way out

4. Decide which side is the back and attach the more rounded edge of the gusset to the centre back of the bodice.  The most precise way of doing this is folding the gusset in half to locate the centre, do the same with the bodice back, and then match the centres with the right sides together.  Pin from the centre out and check that the gusset is pinned evenly and not stretched out of shape on one side.  Then sew together.
Attach gusset

5. With the right sides together attach the facings to the inside of the legs.  Just like in previous step, start from the centres and pin out to the ends before sewing.
Attach leg facings

6.  Turn the facings inside and stay stitch them in place using a twin needle.  If you don't have a twin needle, use a zigzag stitch instead.  This creates a stretchy seam.
Stay stitch facings

7.  Hem the legs using the twin needle/zigzag stitch.
Hem the legs

8.  Stay stitch the strap stitching to the bodice.  You can even use a straight stitch for this because the elastication of the shirring will remove any tension from it.  It's possible to skip this step, but then there is a risk of the fabric layers shifting in the next step.
Stay stitch the strap facing

9. Starting from one of the side seams sew a continuous line of shirring around and around the bodice.  Keep the lines parallel by lining up the edge of the foot with the stitching.  You will end on the same side seam where you started.  I think I sewed ten lines of shirring here.
Shir the bodice
Nearly finished!

 10. Add domes or snap fasteners to the inside seams of the legs.

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