I have been very keen to try out shirring for a while. I can see great possibilities for creating tops, but I haven’t had the courage yet to launch into a big project yet. I thought that creating a padded hanger would be a perfect practice project. Obviously, it is possible to create these without the shirring, but the elasticity of shirred fabric, means that it will easily mould to the shape of the coat hanger without need to create a “hanger-shaped” pattern and I think it just adds an extra frilly-ness to the whole thing.
Apologies, for the quality of the photos on this post. I will improve them when I can. There has been nothing but rain for weeks and the light is really poor for taking photos. Anyway, onwards with the post.
You will need:
Wooden coat hangers
Fabric of your choice (I used cotton)
Shirring elastic (It only appears on the inside of the garment, so don’t worry too much about colour matching. White or a dark colour will suffice for most projects)
1. Unscrew the hook from the wooden part.
2. Cut a long strip of wadding roughly 5 cm wide and wrap it tightly and evenly around the hanger. Wrap more wadding around the coat hanger if you wish the hanger to be more padded. Use a couple of stitches to hold it in place. Mark the place where the hole for the hook is, so you can find it later!
3. Next work out how much fabric you need for sewing the cover. First, work out the height required. Lay the hanger on the fabric and work out the amount required for the front and back, plus 1cm seam allowance for both sides. This worked out as 16 cm for my hanger.
As a rule of thumb when a fabric is shirred the width is reduced roughly to a half of what it was. So measure the length of the hanger and add seam allowance of 1cm at each end. This worked out as about 50 cm for my hanger. I therefore worked out that I needed 100 cm in length. It is better at this stage to calculate the amount of fabric to be used generously, it can always be trimmed afterwards.
4. Cut out a square of fabric corresponding to the height (16 cm) and length (100 cm) worked out in the previous step.
5. Now it’s the time to do some shirring! Use regular thread in the top spool holder. The colour should match your fabric. The bobbin should be wound by hand, putting about as much tension on the elastic as you would if hand-winding a normal thread: Don’t pull it tight on the bobbin, but also don’t allow it to be slack.
6. The top tension should be set slightly lower than usual. Also, the stitch length will need to be lengthened. It’s worth trying to see what works on a test piece of fabric first.
7. With the fabric right-side up, sew in parallel rows, using the presser foot as a guide. Start by lining it up with the edge of your fabric – this will be where you make your first line of stitching.
8. The machine sounds worryingly louder when shirring, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Continue shirring subsequent lines. It gets a bit trickier as you add more lines and it’s necessary to hold the fabric flat as you sew, but not pull the fabric through the machine. If the elastic runs out half-way through the line, just rewind the bobbin and continue with the line where you left off, just secure the stitching with a few backward stitches.
9. For my coat hanger fifteen lines was sufficient to cover the front and back of the coat hanger with elasticated fabric. You may need less or more, depending on how padded you wish your hanger to look. When you’ve completed all your shirred stitching, place the shirred fabric right sides together and sew a seam with a 1cm seam allowance to create a tube. Leave a 1-2cm opening in the seam so that you can fit the hook through.
7. Sew up one end of the tube, again with a 1cm seam allowance. You will need to leave the other end open to insert the hanger.
8. Turn the fabric tube the right way out and feed the hanger into it.
9. Close the opening on the open end using slip stitching
10. Screw the hook back into the hanger.
11. I decided that the metal hook of the coat hanger didn’t look very slightly. I decided to cover this with my fabric too. Cut a bias strip from my fabric. Next, fold the strip in half, right-sides together and sew the length of the strip. Trim so there is not too much excess fabric. Using the loop turner turn the strip to the right-side creating a fabric tube.
12. Pull the fabric tube over the hook and secure in place with a few stitches. Don’t worry about being too neat as this will be hidden by the ribbon.
13. Add a ribbon to mask the hole the hook goes through. Cut the ribbon to the right length. Fold the ends of the ribbon over and sew them in place to prevent the ribbon from fraying.