Learn to draft

Drafting Basics 1 - Online Course

Easy Shirred Tube Top

I have made a resolution to make a new post EVERYDAY (let's see how long that will last :p). In order to do that, I will post about current as well as old completed projects, maybe even a sewing story, or just pictures that appeal to me...

Today's offering is a tutorial...of sorts...

When I was pregnant last year, I was constantly hot and sweaty (the weather here was NO help) and was uncomfortable in anything that had sleeves or not made from light-weight cotton. Not feeling particularly energetic enough to make a proper maternity outfit, I remembered a top I had made the previous year that would fit my needs nicely.

It was too small (OF COURSE) to fit my expanded rib cage and ballooning belly, so I made this cheery version out of cotton.

I wore it a good 70% of the duration of the pregnancy and will willingly wear it still cos it's not a maternity blouse in the strictest sense.

Here is the drafting how-to:
  • measure your bust circumference and multiply this by 1.5.
  • divide that by 2.
  • measure from your under-arm in a straight line down to your hip (at the side is easiest).
  • add 2 inches to that.
You are basically drafting a rectangle like so:

Sewing how-to:
  • narrow hem the top and bottom of the fabric with your sewing machine.
  • hand-wind elastic thread in the bobbin, taking care not to pull as you wind. You don't want to stretch it out (some instructions tell you to stretch a little as you wind but that has never worked well for me).
  • loosen the bobbin tension so that the elastic thread passes through the bobbin case with some ease.
  • use ordinary polyester or your preferred sewing thread for the main spool.
  • loosen the upper thread tension (you will have to experiment some. The objective is to get the upper thread to loop around the elastic thread without having the elastic pulled through the fabric like in normal stitching).
  • place your fabric right side up and sew a line about 3/8 - 1/2 inch from the top hemmed edge. Make sure you have about 2 - 3 inches of thread tails at the start and end of each row.
  • you now have your first row of shirring (don't fret if the first row does not look 'shirred' enough. It will happen as more rows are done if your tensions are right).
  • using the presser foot as a spacing guide, sew the next line of shirring.
  • keep making more rows until the shirred part of the blouse is wide enough to extend about an inch below your underbust. On me, this takes about 20 - 30 rows using the width of the all-purpose presser foot.
  • do this for both front and back pieces.
  • to make up the blouse, put right sides together, making sure the tails previously mentioned are outside the seams. Sew up the side seams using normal sewing thread in both spool and bobbin. I recommend that you double stitch the portion where the shirring is using a different stitch length for the second pass. This will lock the shirring stitches and help prevent unravelling.
  • trim the thread and elastic tails. Press seams open.
  • put your blouse on and hopefully you'll like it :)
I made the maternity one significantly longer than the instructions to accomodate the belly. It stopped about mid thigh which was quite a nice mod length when worn with tights. The nice thing about this simple pattern is that you can make it up in any length you want with nil fuss, really.

A long ankle length dress, even.



  1. Me first! Hey, I like. I discovered shirring recently, but the thought of doing 15- 20 rows to make a dress bodice for the kids didn't appeal to me. So I shirred puff sleeve hems instead. Fun! Your instructions very excellent - esp the part about loosening tensions so that the upper thread loops around the elastic and does not pull it up through the fabric. They should hire you to write packaging manuals.

  2. Lol! I had to re-write the steps at least 3 times before I dared to post.Just in case I missed out essential steps. I'm still wondering actually.

  3. Hi - about to attempt this for a friends birthday pressie but just wondered if you have a side or top loading bobbin in your machine? I have a top loading machine and can't seem to work out all to easy how to loosen the bobbin tension- will this matter?
    Thanks so much


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