Clothing restoration: Repairing rotted shirring pt 1

Hello lovely people.
Before I get started with this post I'd like to let you all know I have a new repro pattern available. It's another addition to my men's patterns and a great pair of late 1940's slacks. The pattern is a 38" waist and is available for pre order in my etsy shop.




The more I go through all the lovely repairs that I get to do for Playclothes, the more I am intrigued by how much work went into a lot of those garments.

I have never done real shirring before. I know how, I've practiced, but I've never found a garment that I wanted to add that detail to. I have a dress pattern that calls for shirring, but I just didn't want to take the time I refrained from making it. Sewing the shirring isn't too bad, though it can be taxing on your machine. Have you ever tried removing shirring? That's what sucks!

Playclothes gave me about 7 tiki (I'll call them that because they vary in their styles and fabric patterns) style dresses from the late 50s to mid 60s. All of them have the same problem, rotted shirring.


Let's be honest, or rather I'll be honest with myself, I rarely sew with elastic. Much like my hatred of fabrics with lycra in them, the elastic tends to have a pretty short shelf life and often rots in the garment (or fabric) making the material unstable. Not that elastic does not have it's place. It totally does, but if I can avoid using it, I will.

It is that reason alone that I tend to hold so much bias for shirring, I guess. I just know the garment will 'go bad' because the elastic will be put in the dryer (NEVER DO THAT) or the person won't clean it after a good sweat, and once the elastic is gone the way of no elasticity, what's a dress to do?


I decided to start on my first dress, a near circle skirt number with a contrasting pique fabric bodice. The shirring on this piece actually cover 4 panels of the bodice. Generally shirring is two panels, but this dress wanted to be extra fancy and me, thinking this one would be the east one to start with, started with it. *sigh*


Studying the dress, I see that the straps are after the fact. Most likely added because the shirring went bad. Also, this dress had a mend done to it on the shirring with contemporary elastic sewn into the dress. I guess after a while that cheat wasn't working anymore. It was time to take this garment apart.


The easiest course of attack was through the zipper. The back panel of the dress' bodice fabric is doubled to sort of sandwich the seam allowance of the shirred panels into it. That entire double panel had to be removed. In the selvage I found this.


SO the fabric pattern has a date of 1958, most likely when the dress was made. Cool.


Once the panels were out, I removed the newer elastic sewn on top of the old shirring.
Now, onto the madness.


The good thing for me was that the shirring was sewn straight across both panels of fabric. It was dry and brown but encased in probably cotton, so I had something to pull as I was cutting it out. Best tool for something like this is a dull x-acto blade. A dull blade will cut the threads but it will take more effort to cut the fabric.


After about an hour I had this. A lot of clipped threads and powdered elastic. I'm sure I got cancer from breathing in all that powdered elastic!


Once all the elastic was out, I pressed the fabric flat for the first time in 60 years!


Check it! I used a lint roller to gather most of the thread clippings. Worked pretty good. Wait, there is a second one as well. Aw shucks, back to cutting.
*More tomorrow!*

8 comments:

  1. I love that you are sharing all these restorations with us, it's very interesting and very informative! Unfortunately I'm all too familiar with the disintegrated shirring elastic!

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  2. Interesting process. I bought elastic to make shirred summer dresses for my daughter. Pre-shirred fabric is ridiculously expensive and the fabric itself is usually crappy. Your view on elastic and shirring is interesting. I never looked at it that way.

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  3. Good point about not putting shirring in the dryer! I'm amazed at your restoration skills--thanks for sharing!

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  4. Was that that pattern I gave you with the dalmatian on the front? I love that pattern.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It was, Lisette. Had a lot of interest in it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I HATE elastic and shirring. It wears so poorly, and it's just so cheap.

    ReplyDelete
  7. These restoration posts are excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  8. That is awesome you are able to restore that older dress. When my clothes get worn out like that, I have to throw them away. Maybe I will look into getting some of my nicer pieces restored. Good luck restoring that tricky fabric!
    http://frsteamcleveland.com/services/

    ReplyDelete

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