Shirring With Your Brother

August 11, 2010

So after yesterday's post I had A LOT of people tell me in the comments that they have had trouble with their Brother sewing machine and shirring. Some of them said that Brothers are known to not shirr fabric.

I actually have a Brother! And I have to admit that I noticed how my shirring was a lot less bouncy than it was with my old sewing machine. But I didn't really think much of it because I don't do a lot of shirring.

But your comments got my wheels spinning. Then T.Navis suggested this tutorial by Creative Heart. It looked like an easy fix and since it dealt with getting inside the machine and tinkering with its insides, I was all over it.

So I tried it and....WOW! Like WOW!!!! Night and day!!

I made a little video tutorial for any of you with Brother's who have been shirr deprived for so long.
I think this would work for anyone who has trouble shirring. I'm basically tightening the tension of the bobbin. If your sewing machine is giving you trouble shirring, take a look at this video and try to see if you can do the same to yours.

The power of the internet! If we all started a topic on world peace perhaps we could change the world;)

And thanks to Creative Heart for being so smart!

60 {comments}:

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I can't actually view your video right now, however my sister sent me a link a long time ago; and it required taking apart the Brother Sewing machine and just tightening a screw. That was it. I think it was off one of the manufacturer's website. But I really can't remember. Happy Shirring!

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Very interesting! Amazing what a difference it makes!

sjones said... Best Blogger Tips

Where did you get that gorgeous paisley fabric in the background? I am look for some in that exact colors!

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

So If I tighten my bobbin tension to shirr, do I need to loosen it again to do normal sewing when I'm done?

MissMelanie said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you Thank you! I've never been able to get my Brother to do decent shirring (though I LOVE my machine!) and always end up just paying an arm and a leg for pre-shirred fabric!

Leslie said... Best Blogger Tips

amazing, awesome, wonderful!
I knew that the bottom thread tension needed to be tightened for me to do this but was told from the Brother help hotline that it 'couldn't be done'... now that I know how... I think some shirring is in order for tonight!! :)

Claire (aka Seemane) said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've saved a copy of your video so that I don't loose it (I used I have a Brother machine and the video is perfect to "see" how to do the bobbin thread adjustment yipee :)!

I think I'll follow the suggestion on the 'Creative Heart' blog & buy myself a 2nd bobbin casing so I can have 1-normal thread, and 1-shirring elastic. said... Best Blogger Tips

What a very helpful video! I have a brother and when I've attempted to shirr, it came out flat like your first sample. Thanks for posting this because I have a couple of fall projects that will actually turn out amazing from this tip!

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes, you do.

{jen} iCandyhandmade said... Best Blogger Tips

I have a Viking, and was having the same problems shirring. One day I spent like 4 hours trying to get some gather... I haven't tried this yet, but I just pulled out my bobbin casing and saw the screw just like on yours. I can't wait to try it!

Erin said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you so so so much! I got my Brother machine about a year ago, and have been very distressed since I figured out that it didn't do shirring very well. I figured it had to be something to do with the bobbin tension, but never had the gumption to do something about it. Now I'm off to shirr all those garments that I've had sitting around for ages.

Lindsay @ said... Best Blogger Tips

I've heard this, but I'm so afraid I won't be able to re-adjust the bobbin tension to sew normally. How hard is it to get the right tension after you've tightened it?

I really, really, really want to shirr but I don't want to ruin my machine!


Laurie Stone said... Best Blogger Tips

Can you tell us what---if any---did you change you tension dial and your stitch length to on the upper part of the machine???? That would be so helpful too! THanks

Laurie Stone said... Best Blogger Tips

did you change anything on the top of the machine like the tension dial or stitch length???

Danelle said... Best Blogger Tips

This worked on my Babylock, too. Makes sense since Brother & babylock are related.

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

It was as easy as loosening the screw. But if you are still really afraid you can always purchase another bobbin holder to keep specifically for shirring.

Here's a site that sells some:*2496f57e14d8a0ef8decc151feac6905cd454c8b&search_field=brother+bobbin+case&search2.x=0&search2.y=0

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

Laurie Stone,
I changed the stitch length to 3 or 5. And I changed the tension to high, although I forgot to change the tension once and didn't see much of a change. After you tighten the screw, the upper tension doesn't really make much of an impact, for me at least.

angelaphotos said... Best Blogger Tips

thank you... you're awesome. I'll give this a shot. I appreciate the response!

Becky said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks so much! I just figured I was winding my bobbin wrong. I'm excited to give it a try.

Erin H said... Best Blogger Tips

THANK YOU!!! I didn't read your Tuesday post about shirring because I had tried it before and thought, "my machine doesn't do shirring". Can't wait to try this with some projects I've put away in frustration! :)

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you so much I am so glad there is a community out there so willing to help each other. When I had first gotten my Brother I made two shirts for my girls and the shirring was just fine and then about six months later tried to do it and had no luck and wasted a spool of elastic thread.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you! Thank you!! Thank YOU!!! I tried shirring once and it didn't do a darn thing and I was so disheartened that I couldn't make all the cute shirred outfits for my girls that I keep finding across the internet. Now I am off to try this to make sure it works right on mine and if it does..which it should..I will likely be making a few dresses over the next few days full of shirring!! Thank you so very, very much!!

Miss Scotty said... Best Blogger Tips


The bottom of my sewing machine is the same. I never change the position of the screw when I use the elastic thread. When I twist the thread on the bobbin I twist it wery tight. I always use the elastic thread like that.


Emy said... Best Blogger Tips

I know your initial video said to wind the elastic thread by hand, but have you tried using the machine to wind it? That's the only way I can get my machine to shir. I might try tightening my screw and see if it works better though. (I have a Kenmore.)

Lindsay @ said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you!! And thanks for the link. I might give it a whirl now that I know if I can't get it back to normal I can just order a second one.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was devastated a few months ago when I realized that my Brother couldn't do shirring correctly...but now I know that it CAN! I can't wait to give it another try!!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you so much for the tutorial! I have the very same machine and would have never thought of that!

Nicole said... Best Blogger Tips

now you said your that the screw to tighten your bobbin was covered with paint, did you chip the paint off? mine has paint (or something) covering the screw and I'm a lil hesitant to remove it - what do you think? (I believe I have the same model of Brother you do)

Maggie said... Best Blogger Tips

I have a Brother too and could not shir on it to save my life, I thought I was doing something wrong! Then I pulled out my 1973 White machine that is solid steel btw and weighs about 50 pounds, and it worked like a charm. Thanks for the video, maybe I won't have to haul that heavy thing out anymore! (I love my Brother, though)

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

This is great. I was stitching over the elastic and then once all the rows where stitched down, pulling the gathers up and tying it off when I had enough. I'm definitely going to try this on my Brother this weekend. I've been making a tiered maxi dress and this would definitely help gathering. Though, I think I'm going to try marking the original direction of the screw on the casing with a silver sharpie to give me a guide to where I want to go back to. I see you can purchase another bobbin case for about $35, so if I fail, I can always get another.


Ruby Rose said... Best Blogger Tips

I hope people are still reading this post, because I'm having a problem and need help!!!

I finally got my machine to shir, but then had to switch it back to finish some regular stitching. And now I can't get it back. But I think it's because I'm trying to sew on folded fabric. Originally the shirring I did was on a single piece and now it's double the thickness (per my pattern). Any idea how to adjust it for thicker fabric?

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

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take care

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you! I booked marked this post when you originally posted it thinking maybe I'll need this one day. And when I sat down last night do some shirring on my Brother, I am so glad I did because I did not know what was going on until I remember this post. I followed your instructions and lo and behold it all worked out great. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you soooooo much. I've been going mental all day and gone through 2 bobbins of shirring. You might have just saved my wedding dress. Had a glass or two of wine at the moment but will try again tomorrow. thanks xxx

pauline said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks soooo much! I had tightened the screw but was trying to thread the bobbin the normal way. No results. When I looked at your video and did it exactly the way you said it worked like a charm! I am so excited! And you're right about the upper tension. With the screw tight there's no need to put the upper tension very high.

Deanna said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow! Thanks for the tut! I tried shirring a knit fabric and my Brother just wouldn't do it at all - niks, nadda, nothing. So I googled how to shirr knit fabric thinking it was because I was using a knit, and I came across this. Perfect! After tightening the screw I was able to shirr perfectly! Thanks again.

twobutterflies said... Best Blogger Tips

I sew with a Brother and have had problems with elastic thread - this tutorial has definitely helped solve the problem. Thanks so much!!! I've linked to this post on my blog

Suse said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks so much for the informative video! I must have the 'stupid' model brother (PS-55), because I can't even get the top plate off. The screws are completely inaccessible with a normal screwdriver. First step, get a short screwdriver. Then try again. Or, this could be just the excuse I need to get a new machine...

Has anyone else had difficulty getting the top plate off in order to access the bobbin case?

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh my goodness, THANK YOU!

You are my hero right about now. I've been desperately trying to shirr on my brother cs-6000 for a week now and thought I had tried just about everything. You rock!

Sugar Bug clothing and accessories said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! You are my hero too :) I am going to go try it now!!

Bean said... Best Blogger Tips

When I read the Title for this post, I thought it was a play on words, like "sharing" with your brother (sibling) I laughed out loud because the thought of making ruffles with your brother and then sharing them was cute to me. I haven't had my coffee yet, so um, yeah.

WENDY said... Best Blogger Tips

I have tried this and I still cant get my brother to shir. So, just to understand, I tighten the screw as tight as it will go, I hand wind the bobbin with no tension, and I keep my top settings on the normal settings? I am also using a cotton material that is a little thicker. Any suggestions?

WENDY said... Best Blogger Tips

I tried this and I still cant get it to work but i might have been messing with the tension and length on the top. Ok. So, just to make sure I do this right, I screw the little screw as tight as I can, I hand wind the bobbin with no tension, then what. What are the settings on the top? My top tension knob goes to a nine and my stitch length goes to a 5.

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

@WENDYWhen I do this, I don't have to really set the tension high, the tight screw does most of the work. BUT, if you are using a thicker material then I would set my tension as high as it will go and see what happens from there.

If you do that and nothing is happening, tell me if it is at least catching the bobbin elastic and sewing a straight line of thread.

WENDY said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes it is just sewing a regular straight just wont pucker like it is supposed to.

Poppy (xperimentl) said... Best Blogger Tips

I was able to do a great t-shirt recon thanks to your tutorial. I had overtightened the screw a little too much and couldn't pull out my elastic thread, so loosened it up a rotation or so. I used a stitch length of 3.5 and tension on 5, if that helps anyone. Worked like a charm.

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

@WENDYOkay, let me cover all the bases. I just want to be sure everything is correct to figure out the problem.

Are you hand pulling the elastic into the case (like in 3:08 of video)?

If it's not going through the case and just coming off the spool it won't have any tension.

WENDY said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes. I have watched the video a gazillion times to make sure I was doing everything right. I'm thinking it might be the type of elastic thread. I'm using a very thin elastic thread now, but before (the one time I got my machine to work)I used a thicker elastic that came in an orange package, but I cant find it anymore. I dont know...maybe my brother is one of those stupid

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

Do you buy your elastic at a fabric store like JoAnn's?
If you don't have a fabric store in your area you can cheaply get the right kind of stretchable elastic online.
Try here.
Only $2.82 for 3 packages. Unless you do a lot of shirring, that's 90 yards total! Probably enough for a lifetime;)
Shipping is $4.95 though. So really, it's $7.77 all together. But what I do when I have to pay shipping is get all the things I can't buy in the store so I don't feel like I'm wasting that much money. Createforless has almost anything a crafter would ever want. I've gotten a lot of interesting odds and ends there.

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

Oops forgot the link;P

Katy Cameron said... Best Blogger Tips

OMG, thank you! I've been trying in vain to shirr using my brother, and it's been driving me up the wall! I fear there may be no stopping me now lol

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

After going through 2spools of elastic thread and no luck . Your tutorial gave me the missing link, thank you very much!!! You are awesome!! Now I can make my first sun dress for my granddaughters. Again, thank you !!

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for your great instruction, I am now able to shirr!!! I went through 2 spools of elastic thread and most of the day reading and watching tutorials to learn this technique of shirring. But you were the one who gave the direction I needed! Thank you so much!

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for your great instruction, I am now able to shirr!!! I went through 2 spools of elastic thread and most of the day reading and watching tutorials to learn this technique of shirring. But you were the one who gave the direction I needed! Thank you so much!

RoseMary Baty-Willcox said... Best Blogger Tips

I have used brother sewing machines since at least 1995, and have always been told to use brother bobbins in my machine, which are plastic. How do you use metal ones in your machine. I didn't know they make metal ones for brother machines.

Grosgrain said... Best Blogger Tips

@RoseMary Baty-WillcoxOh I didn't buy any special bobbins just used my old metal ones. They seem to work fine. I bought my machine back in 2011 so maybe they've changed since then?

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

I love this idea. I just checked eBay for a Brother Bobbin case, they aren't to terribly expensive. I would just purchase a new bobbin case and use for shirring only.

Pam said... Best Blogger Tips

Your instructions were perfect and I was able to shirr on my Brother machine. I was surprised at how many turns I had to make to completely tighten the screw on the bobbin case. I wasn't sure how to rerurn the screw to the proper (i.e. starting) position. I just turned it back about three revolutions and it seems to be working correctly. Is there another way to know exactly where the starting screw position was or should be? Your video was great. Thanks for sharing.

tinyminx said... Best Blogger Tips


My machine has a tiny little tool, like a metal lid, that you use to remove the screw in the footplate.

tinyminx said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you so much!!! I'd tried every derivative to tighten the elastic on my Brother and then I found this!! Superb. Plus I got to clean all the bits of fluff and thread that were clogging things up under the footplat.

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