Elastic thread is great for people who want to make ruffles or use shirring when they are sewing. It is thicker than standard thread, and it works with certain fabrics such as elastic or jersey cotton.
Start by winding the elastic thread until your bobbin is full, and then thread your sewing machine top with your standard thread. Next, place your bobbin in the machine and thread it the same way as your standard thread. Make sure that you leave a tail of the elastic thread and pull it up through the throat plate of the sewing machine.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about sewing with elastic thread.
How to Sew with Elastic Thread
If you spend time sewing, you will want to learn how to use elastic thread. This allows you to do shirring, which is a technique that allows you to bunch fabric or create an elastic area. There are plenty of simple patterns to start out with, and once you understand how to do it, you will expand the types of clothing and accessories you can make.
The first thing you need to do is get a spool of elastic thread. You can go to a sewing store or order it online. Next, you need to hand wind your bobbin. This is important, and it is not hard to do. Look for the pilot hole and place the end of the elastic thread inside. Then, you simply start hand winding. Make sure that the thread is even throughout.
When you finish hand winding the elastic thread, cut off the small tail. Then, you can place the bobbin inside of the sewing machine. Make sure that you follow your manufacturer’s directions as it can vary with different sewing machines. Once it is loaded, you need to load your all-purpose thread into the top needle.
Mark your first row with a water-erasable pen, and start sewing. Make sure that you backstitch at the beginning and end of each row, and be patient. It won’t start shirring until you have a few rows complete. Finish sewing the number of rows you need.
What Fabrics Take Elastic Thread?
Whether you are making something from a pattern or you found a piece of clothing at a vintage store and want to alter it, you can use elastic thread to create shirring. However, some fabrics can handle it better than others.
You can completely change clothing with a few rows of shirring; you can give a shirt or a dress a fitted waist or gather sleeves and create ruffles. You can add shape to the bust, the neckline, the sleeves, or the waist and breathe new life into an old style.
You need to choose a pattern or an item of clothing with ten inches of ease where you want to do shirring. It will cut the width in half, so you need to have enough room to gather. The key is to make sure that you are using light fabric.
If the fabric is overly thick, the elastic won’t be strong enough to gather it. The best fabrics to use are soft cotton, rayon, double gauze, or voile. You should stay away from wool, canvas, flannel, and other heavy fabrics.
How Many Rows Do You Need for Shirring?
When you sew with elastic thread, you will need more than one row. Most patterns will tell you how many rows you need, and it usually varies from three or four up to six or more. It is important to know that you should not stop between rows. When you finish a line, move about a half inch down to the next line as this will help make the fabric stretchier.
One row of elastic thread won’t make it stretchy. As you add more rows, they will all work together to gather your fabric and make it stretchy. When you complete the shirring, you should use your iron to shrink the elastic thread. Use the steam blaster, and it will tighten it up.
The difference lies in the type of fabric you use, so try it out first. Make a few rows so that you can find out what it takes to make it stretchy. Lighter fabrics will gather and become stretchy easily, while heavier fabrics will take more rows.
How Are Shirring and Smocking Different?
Shirring and smocking are often used to mean the same thing in fashion; however, they are different. Smocking is an embroidery technique. It is used to gather fabric and for folds or pleats that are secured with decorative stitches.
Shirring is a technique where you gather your fabric by stitching several rows to make it more elastic. Shirring is used to gather the yoke, bodice, sleeves, and more with elastic thread. In smocking, they use standard thread rather than elastic thread. The pleats that are formed with the smocking change the appearance, but it is not elastic.
While these two techniques do resemble one another, they are different and create different effects. You don’t need elastic thread for smocking, but it is necessary if you want to add elasticity to your fabric.
5 Top Tips for Sewing with Elastic Thread
People use elastic threads to gather fabric and create better fitted clothing. It can be used to gather sleeves, the bust, the neckline, or the waist. It is made of elastic, and it is thicker than standard thread. It usually comes in white, black, and clear. However, you only use it as the bottom thread, so the top thread will still show your color.
Make sure that you use new thread when you start a project. Over time, elastic thread will become brittle and stretch. You also need to choose lightweight fabrics. If the fabric is too heavy, the elastic won’t work, and it could possibly break. Lightweight fabrics will gather much more easily.
Always test your fabric before you start sewing a pattern. Try a few rows to see how much the fabric shrinks, and then pull it to see how far it will stretch. You can make changes to your stitch length or the other material you are using.
Once you know how much your material stretches, you can tweak your pattern so that it is right for your fabric. Don’t forget to hand wind the elastic thread because winding with a bobbin winder can overfill it. Another tip is to wind extra bobbins before you start. Elastic thread is thicker, so you will use more bobbins. This way, they will be ready for use.
You should also turn your automatic thread cutters off because you need a longer tail between the seams. As you move along the fabric, you will want to use a walking foot in place of your regular presser foot. This will help you make your shirring more dense.
In Summary: How do you Sew with Elastic Thread?
When you are sewing with elastic thread, you need to understand how it works. Shirring is a technique where you can make clothing more form-fitting, and it works well with lighter fabrics. You can add necklines, bustlines, waists, and sleeves with elastic thread. Be sure to hand wind the elastic thread onto the bobbin, and you can alter vintage clothes or complete new patterns.