Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tutorial - Shirred top for 2 y/o girl.

Shirred top for two year old girl.


14 inches of 44" wide fabric.
cotton thread
shirring elastic

Step 1

From selvedge to selvedge cut two strips 1 & 1/2 " wide for the straps.  I find it best to use my rotary cutter.
The remaining 11" section will make up the top.  Make sure your cut edges are straight.

Step 2

With right sides together of 11" piece, overlock open side where selvedges are.  Take a largish seam to make sure no white form the selvedge shows through on the front.

Step 3

Hem bottom edge of top.  I overlock the edge then fold it up once and stitch with a single row of stitching which looks quite neat and isn't bulky.

Step 4

On the top edge, finish using a rolled hem.  You can overlock and it fold over but it doesn't seem to sit as well after shirring.

Step 5

Before you put the shirring elastic on your machine.
Press the 1 & 1/2 " strips as follows to make the straps.
First fold in half and press, turn up each end a little to avoid a raw edge.
Open out and press edges in to centre as shown above.  Like a bias binding but not cut on the bias.
Fold in half again and stitch closed.  

The stitched straps.

Step 6

Fill your bobbin with shirring elastic.  This has to be done by hand.  The trick is to put it on firm enough that it doesn't unravel, try not  to stretch it too much as it goes on.  This works for me and my machine.  One full bobbin will do about two of these tops.

Step 7

Set your machine to its longest stitch length. in my case "4".

Step 8

The fun bit.
I start at the seam which I make the side seam.  Start stitching about a foot's width from the top edge.  I just use the foot as a guide for my row distance.  Stitch, stitch, stitch, when you have done a lap sew up to where you started then taper down to your next row.  This will be under the arm and you don't really notice it when its finished.  Much easier than stopping and starting separate rows, which or course you can do but you have a lot more ends to take care of.

On these tops I do six rows of shirring.
When you have finished give it a gentle press with a steam iron and I give it a vertical tug and the shirring seems to shrink into place quite nicely.

Step 9

Grab your straps.  Position them and sew them on.  My straps are roughly halfway between the side seam and centre front.  Don't space them too far apart or they will slide off the wearer's shoulders.  I make sure the seam side on the straps faces to the sides.  Sew one end on to the front and the other end to the back so you have a big loop (see above), cut in half to desired length and tie a small knot in each end.
Sew in all loose ends and make sure ends of shirring elastic are secure so they don't unravel with time.

Step 10

Find a small child, and try it on.

Just too cute!

The fabric I used was courtesy of Spotlight 2008.  As usual I wish I had bought more.


I'm experimenting with different lengths and widths of fabric to make different sizes, including an adult version.  The construction will be pretty much the same though.  You can also vary the spacing of your shirring rows for different effects.  I've seen them done up to an inch apart.

Some others I have made are here and here.

Let me know if you try this tutorial, I'd love to see your tops and know if my instructions are easy to follow.  Please use it for your personal use only.



  1. What a great tut', thanks Julie!!! I might have a go at making myself a skirt with a shirred waist/hips now that I've seen your instructions ..... :o)!!
    Joy :o)

  2. yay for a great tutorial! very easy to follow. I do mine with the folded over edge but maybe I better try the rolled hem on my o/locker instead!!!!!!

    I did buy 9 rolls of shirring elastic at $1.57! what a bargain! didn't want anyone else to find out about it and clear it out but I did leave 10 or so left!!!!


  3. What a cute top (I love the apples) and a great tutorial. I'm an absolute sewing novice and have never tried shirring before but I'm inspired to give it a go. What could go wrong? (Plenty, in my hands, but I'm willing to risk it...)

  4. Lovely tutorial Julie. You're been sewing up a storm of gorgeous little girl things lately!

  5. Thank you for sharing beautiful things!

  6. I've got some of that apples left! Good idea making a continuous line of shirring, will try that out next time. Got some nice black poplinly stuff and a few rolls of black shirring elastic for my next dress.

  7. Thanks for the tute Julie! It will come in handy one day when the grandchildren cone along!
    Notice I said "when", not "if"? lol! 8-)

  8. THanks for the tute, always interesting to see how other people do things. I was wondering wondering about that fabric and then, spotlight 2008. Bummer! I love apple fabric!

  9. Great tutorial. It is amazing how things go in circles I remember making something similar for my daughter - 20 years ago.