Hack Your Pattern Sewing

Feel Pretty Shirred Waistband Hack

Shirring has always been one of those things that intrigued me. Garments with the technique always look adorable, and it gives a little wiggle room in the event of shifting weight/size throughout the month. I got this super simple shirred yoke maxi skirt to wear during summer, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I want shirred waistbands on all woven things lol! I decided to try it out on some cute summer shorts, and I’m in love with the results.

I am using the Feel Pretty Pants from Ellie and Mac* in the shorts version, but if you have any woven pants or shorts that utilize elastic in the waistband, you can do this! You could actually even measure the waistline of the shorts and create your own waistband, even if they were flat front or some other style that was fitted. Before I ventured into the waistband portion, I wanted to add a little flare to the shorts, using the slash + spread method. To do this, I drew 3 vertical lines from the waist to hem, equally spaced. I then cut from the hem up to, but not through, the waist, and spread each piece 1/2″. For this first pair, I didn’t want them tooo spread, but just a little. Taped onto fresh pattern paper, I finished up the hem line and cut out my new patterns.

To construct the shorts, I placed both fronts with right sides together and both backs with right sides together, then sewed the crotch seams with my sewing machine and finished with a serger. The seams were pressed to one side. Next, I placed the fronts to the backs with right sides together and sewed along the inseam and outseams, first with my sewing machine, then finished with my serger. I pressed all these seams toward the back. I then finished the shorts hem with my serger and moved onto the waistband.

I used the tall waistband from the pattern for this technique. The two waistband pieces were placed right sides together, and I sewed one side seam, and pressed the seam open. I then folded the entire waistband in half with wrong sides together. I took care with this step to make sure the waistband was nicely pressed and the edges were aligned so the shirring would come out straight and neat in the end. Since I was adding a drawstring, I added a patch of interfacing to the wrong side and sewed tiny buttonholes, following the placement from the waistband piece. Finally, I placed the other side seam right sides together and sewed it, then pressed the seam open.

To setup my machine for shirring, I hand wound a bobbin with elastic thread. You need to make sure you aren’t pulling tight, but that you are keeping tension on the thread as you wind it. You don’t want it loose and floppy…it should nicely stay in place. Take care not to overfill past the edges so that you don’t have issues with placing it into your machine. Thread it like a normal bobbin, bringing your top thread down to help you draw out a tail from the needle plate. You then increase your tension to 7-9 and your stitch length to 3.5-4 (you will need to experiment with these settings on your machine). You’re ready to begin shirring!

For deciding on your rows, you have options. You can measure with a seam gauge or ruler, and then draw them out in chalk or marker. I opted to use my my magnetic seam gauge to help me ensure my first row was beneath my (uneven) buttonholes, then for the subsequent rows I just used my presser foot as a guide to sew them. This spaced them about 1/4″ apart.

When starting and stopping, do so in the back, making sure to backstitch to secure your threads. Continue sewing as many rows as you want to to complete the waistband. There should be at least 1/2″ left below your final row to make sure you can attach the waistband with the 3/8″ seam allowance and still leave a little space between your shirring and shorts. Admire your waistband, then watch it magically shrivel up as you steam press it. Hover with steam and press up and down, as opposed to dragging or sliding the iron.

Now, divide the waistband raw edges and the waist of the shorts into four equal parts and mark with pins or clips. With right sides together, insert the waistband into the shorts, aligning the raw edges. Since it’s shirred, you will essentially be treating it like a knit waistband. It needs to be stretched to fit, though in the end the raw edges should measure up perfectly to one another. Sew,with the shorts on the bottom and the waistband on the top, so you can make sure there are no puckers. Finish the raw edges in your preferred method. Press waistband and topstitch seam, if desired, then hem!

I love the finished shorts a lot. I will experiment with adding even more flare to the next pair for the style I was going for (and probably pockets), but these are certainly wearable as is. Though shirring looks intimidating, it is such an easy technique. Shir all the waistbands haha!! I’m looking forward to incorporating it into other places too. Have you shirred before? Do you love it?

Any links in this post containing asterisks are affiliate links. Purchases made through them allow me to earn a tiny commission, at no increased cost in the product to you. I appreciate your love and support in helping me keep sewing and sharing. 🖤

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