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Returning Member – Question

WandaJ | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello Gathering Members, I’m WandaJ, and I am returning after about 2 years away.  I have not had the opportunity to sew during this period as I was in graduate school and have now finished.  During my break between completing my studies and finding a ‘job’ I have started sewing again, and am making 2 beautiful dresses for my granddaughters to wear to my commencement next month.  The dresses are a challenge for a returning sewer as I need to regain my patience and be able to think through my creative ideas since I did not put them on paper!  I’m combining 2 patterns with my thought, and the dress that I am almost finished with is gorgeous.  I call it Pink Cotton Candy!  The other one will be just like it only it is in a silk blend that looks like pique’ and it is white on white.

I’ve been sewing since it seems forever, and have studied on my own and apply couture sewing techniques, as well as, heirloom sewing techniques, which I learned through participation in Martha Pullen’s Arts Academey and much more reading and studying.

The question that I have is relative to puckering fabric.  I saw a Butterick Pattern that I really like and am planning to make it in a slate silk linen look fabric.  The ensemble consists of a jacket and sleeveless dress (Pattern No. 4655).  I’d like to keep the band on the jacket’s edges and possibly sleeves plain while using the puckered fabric for the front and back.

Is there anyone that can guide me on puckering fabric and making sure that the lines meet at the shoulders and that the stitches do not come loose once the garment is made and is being worn?

I look forward to your input and will be very appreciative of it.



  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    What do you mean by "puckered fabric"? The crinkle-look that comes that way, or the fabric that you crinkle by the wrapping/tying method, or shirred or elasticized yardage?

    1. WandaJ | | #2

      Perhaps I am thinking of the later, elasticized method. Initially, I thought of running a double gathering thread for each section to be puckered, and then I began to wonder if the threads would hold during not only contstruction, but wear.

      1. solosmocker | | #3

        jThey probably won't hold. As in the "wrap" technique, I would recommend that after you have done the shirring, you press it all to a nylon tricot fusible interfacing. This will permanently hold your puckers and you can treat it as a flat layer of fabric from then on.
        Good luck and let us know how it turns out. Congratulations on your degree and grandchildren. I love to smock and heirloom sew and know how our grandchildren can inspire us.

        1. WandaJ | | #4

          Thanks for sharing your knowledge about shirring.  However, after reading your post I question what will the texture of the fabric be like after it is fused?  I am one that does not like fusible and would rather take the time required to use the sew-in interfacing.

          Next, since posting the question, I'm beginning to wonder if I should use the elastic and machine stitch the shirring with this method.

          I am going to look at the library for the book on fabric manipulation and see if it has any information on shirring in it.

          Thanks again. I just love learning about sewing and garment construction.

          About the dresses, I finished the one I call "Cotton Candy" (it's pink) and have started on the one that is as of yet unnamed and is pure white.  I have surprised myself and a few friends that I'm sticking with these two projects, but of course I know that I procrastinate and I do want them to be finished so they can wear them to the graduation ceremonies.  Thanks for extending your congratulations to me, too.


          1. solosmocker | | #5

            I have made many garments with this textured technique, using different fabrics but mostly silk broadcloth. I found the nylon tricot fusible, specifically "fusi-knit", to not add much to the hand of the garment, and easily workable for a lightweight jacket. Sandra Betzina recommends fusing this product to all the fabric when making jackets out of lighter weight fabrics. You may want to do some test samples, whichever technique you decide on first. Good luck.

          2. WandaJ | | #6

            Hi, I don't mean to sound dense, but what is the specific technique that you are referring to that you use often?  Also, in your first post, I think you said the gathering method that I first thought of using will not work. Is it that it will not work unless the fusible application is used following the gathering stage, or don't use the gathering at all?


          3. solosmocker | | #7

            I will take damp fabric, usually after a prewash or a dyeing episode, and wring it tightly like a towel. I then tie it tightly in several places with string so there is no chance it will come undone. I then throw it in the dryer, with other loads-no whites, and let the dryer do its thing. After 3 or 4 loads I take it out, place it on a table that can take the dampness, and remove the strings. Now I very carefull just open the fabric a little so air can get to the remaining damp fabric that was way inside. I will leave this on the table overnite to dry. The next day I will lay out a large piece of FusiKnit, glue side up on an ironing surface. I will carefully lay the wrinkly piece on top, stretching and pushing and arrangeing the wrinkles until I like what I see. This fabric is face up. I now proceed with my iron to fuse the fabric to the interfacing. This will leave some loose wrinkles, which is fine, and I then stitch the entire piece of fabric with maybe decorative stitching, or special threads or a combo of both. Or I might just use plain thread and stitches. This stitching will keep those wrinkles controlled thru future launderings. Once I have my yardage, I proceed to cut out the garment.
            So my suggestion was that if you do the double gathering stitch and are afraid of it not holding thru wash and wear, by attaching it to a fusible LIGHTWEIGHT interfacing you may be able to do it. Again, do an experiment first to see if this is what you want. Hope this helps and I hope you get this garment done on time.
            Your initial post mentioned puckering and that is basically the look this has. I think shirring is a more controlled linear effect that you certainly could do with the elastic thread. The elastic thread method would be more sturdy than the gathering threads way thru wash and wear. Lots of choices here! LOL!
            I would like to thank Threads, and more specifically, Lois Ericson, who in one of her wonderful articles for the magazine taught me and I am sure many others how to do this.
            Good luck and glad to help in any way.

            Edited 6/1/2006 12:15 pm ET by solosmocker

          4. WandaJ | | #8

            Dear Solosmocker, You were very kind to provide detailed instructions in answer to my question about 'shirring/gathering' fabric.  As I was reading I was thinking I must do this on a test piece, and then you suggested that too.  Now, I'm a bit leery of engaging in this process with the intended fabric as it is a piece of Michael's linen-look silk!  Maybe I need to change my design idea. In the meantime, you mentioned having read about this process in Threads, so I will look the article up and hopefully it will either be on-line in the archives, or in my Threads Magazine collection.

            Thanks again,


          5. solosmocker | | #9

            Lois and Diane Ericson are two fiber artists that Threads has often featured in its magazines. If you google either, I think it will help you. I believe Lois is retired at this point, but her daughter, Dianne, jas a wonderful website that may be able to inspire you. I know this mother daughter team has certainly inspired me over the years. Good luck and I wish you the best. So glad you returned to this site.

          6. WandaJ | | #10

            "So glad you returned to this site."  Me too!  Thanks for the information, I'm more familiar with the mother than the daughter.  What would a creative artist do after retiring.  More fabric and sewing is what I am looking forward to, but 'I guess there's life after fabric!'  WandaJ


          7. Kiley | | #11

            Welcome back. As for Gathering/Shirring, puffing  etc. can be done so nicely on a serger in just seconds by using the differential feed. You can also use a shirring foot on the serger to sew 2 pieces of fabric together at the same time while one is gathered and the other is not.  You might wish to use this method if you have a serger or check it out for the future.

          8. WandaJ | | #12

            Thanks Kiley for your suggestion.  I do not have a serger :-}; however, I did note a discussion about this topic in another section.

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