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Confused by elastic! Help!

(7 Posts)
TheYoniExpress Thu 25-Apr-13 20:19:04

I have a pattern for a smock top which involves zigzag stitching taut elastic onto fabric so that it then smocks when released.

I want the top to fit properly, so not loose (as a snug fit is surely the point of a smocked top!)...

But my 3yo is slim for her age and the length of elastic in the pattern is 4 inches longer than her chest measurement.

So, do I keep with the pattern measurements or reduce? And if I reduce, do I make the elastic the same as her chest measurement (or smaller?)


amazingmumof6 Thu 25-Apr-13 23:24:51

you have to fit the top to her slim figure, so reduce the pattern.

yes, it should be a snug fit, so you have to reduce length of elastic too, but remember that the fabric will have a thickness to it due to the gathering up effect, so you don't want it to be too tight either.

can you construct a simple "boob tube " with some left over fabric of similar quality, that is smocked, to figure out the best fit?

watch the semi final episode of " The Great British Sewing Bee" - they are making a smocked dress and you get great tips on how to do smocking!

BunnyValentine Thu 25-Apr-13 23:46:35

Check out FlossieTeacake's blog - she has a great shirring tutorial. here

As for the measurement. I would definitely go by your DD's personal measurement. Shirring is meant to reduce the fabric by half but I don't find it reduces quite as much as by half. Possibly between 1/3 and 1/2!

For a 3 year old, the average chest measurement is 23 inches all round (laid flat 11.5inches from side to side). Using this as an example, I would make the finished shirred piece a bit less than that, ie laid flat probably 10.5-11 inches side to side, so it stretches a bit when it's on but not too much. Although shirring is very forgiving and feels tighter to the hands than when it's actually being worn IYSWIM.

Best to do is shirr your fabric, then sew it with big stitches (the tacking stitch on the machine) where you think it should be, and try it on her before cutting the excess fabric away, sewing properly & finishing the edges.

Also, for a nice finish I would: do shirred lines around 1cm apart, and draw the lines on in advance (if you are not good at keeping lines straight) as you will to draw lines on the right side of the fabric as that's where you would be sewing, so would need to use a fabric marking pen that removes easily and test it thoroughly before use smile

Finally, do the tiniest top hem you can, as an over large frill (created by the top hem) doesn't look as good as a small one, IMO. Start smocking on top of the hemline, rather than leaving a gap between hemline and smocking. HTH!

TheYoniExpress Fri 26-Apr-13 07:38:04

Thanks so much.

This one isn't with shirting elastic. In this method you smock by sewing with regular thread by stretching the elastic and zig zag stitching along the length of elastic.

I am a late night sewer, so pressed on last night and sewed the elastic. Waiting for DD1 ( who's 3 and has a 20in chest!) to wake to try it on her [taps foot]

I'll let you know how it worked out smilesmile

GBSB has inspired me to get my machine out and make things with techniques I haven't used before ie elastic! wink

TheYoniExpress Fri 26-Apr-13 07:38:26

Shirring not shirting

BunnyValentine Fri 26-Apr-13 15:36:37

Sounds interesting! I have done traditional smocking (non elasticated), and shirring, but I can't think that I've done anything similar to what you descibe. Hope it turns out well for you!

TheYoniExpress Sun 28-Apr-13 09:50:53

I have uploaded three photos - they're supposed to be three different ones but MN seems to keep turning previously uploaded pictures into copies of the latest one?! Confused!

Anyway, on my profile there should be a pic of the inside of the top showing the zigzag stitching on the elastic. I did this by having for example a 40 cm wide piece of fabric, marking with pins every 5 cm across the top, then pinning a line of elastic at each end of the fabric (so it was taut) and then marking with pencil on the elastic where the pins were. You then zigzag stitch the elastic to the fabric by pulling it taut to line up the pencil marks with the pins.

Does that make sense?

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