Shirring is a sewing technique where the parallel lines are sewn to shorten the length of fabric with an elastic thread to give a unique pattern and extra stretch to a fabric. It is a rather difficult sewing technique even for experienced sewers. The sewing involves stitching more than 2 parallel pleats of varied lengths depending on what part of the body the shirring is being fashioned.

“Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs

Divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown silk ribbon”


The above lines from a story by Lucy Montgomery show how shirring is done in multiple parallel rows. This sewing technique works best on lightweight fabrics. Adding to the challenge of using a lightweight fabric is the use of an elastic thread which holds lighter fabrics better compared to heavier fabrics. As the sewer starts stitching along the fabric, it takes skill and practice to hold the fabric straight along the sewing line else the shirring is imperfect and the needs to be done all over again. As multiple layers need to be sewn, this technique can only be perfected with time and patience.

Shirring is considered as an embellishing technique used in making patterns on styles as simple as skirts to complex 3-D clothing. Shirring can be applied in creating aesthetic neckline silhouettes, halter necklines, waistbands on skirts, clothes for baby girls, and shirred bodice patterns among others. The shirred sewing technique is commonly applied in making girls’ and women’s summer outfits. This pattern is particularly suited for feminine styles especially young and teenage girls.

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