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Shirring Fabric for Dolls

Gather up your needle and turn simple fabric to splendid

Shirring Fabric for Dolls

Shirring is a great technique to spruce up any old fabric while adding some serious visual interest without a lot of effort.

Think of it as “cheating surface embellishment.”  It can be a relaxing pause when you’re in dollmaking mode, but not quite sure where your doll is going.  Shirring is a great way to create “something from nothing” without thinking or planning too far ahead.

Here’s how it’s done:


1.  Take a bit of your favorite plain Jane fabric, about 10″ X 20″.   The fabric in this tutorial is quilter’s fabric.
2.  Set your sewing machine stitch length to “loosey loosey”, or take up a needle and thread and do it by hand.  
3.  Sew parallel, horizontal rows of stitching on the long side of the fabric, 1/8″ apart.

4.  GATHER! Secure the threads on the” pulling side” to hold the shirring in place. Do this either by sewing a line across all the stitching, or by making knots in the thread. 

The tighter you pull, the denser the fabric will become.

The result: a visual playground of puffing between the lines!
If desired, use this technique on the front of your doll’s dress bodice.  
Alternatively, make a much larger sample- enough to fit all the pattern pieces of an entire dress, jacket, or whatever.
Go to town and use different colored thread if you like. You’ll be amazed at how you can transform a simple fabric into something fantastic.
This little tip is based on a tutorial from the Tikvah pattern. I hope you enjoy it!

This dollightful tutorial was originally posted in 2009. It was spruced up a bit, and some original photos remain intact. I hope you will try some shirring!

Thread bearer, clay musher, paint brusher, seam ripper. Turning whimsy into reality, one doll at a time.


  • April 4, 2010

    What a terrific idea,thank-you for sharing it with us!phylliso

  • April 6, 2010

    Ms Booping Betty .. very pretty !!


  • April 6, 2010

    Куклы восхитительны!!!

  • April 13, 2010

    Hi Rivkah!

    My husband bought me the pattern of Tikvah and I'm loving it. I'm writing to you because even when your instructions are really really wonderful and clear I can't manage to make the feet correctly.
    Every time that I try I can't avoid to make ducks foot.
    I was just wondering if you have time some of this days to publish a small tutorial on feet.
    I hope this doesn't sound really silly to you!
    Have a nice week!


  • April 20, 2010

    Lovely pattern.

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