What is Shirring?

Shirring is a sewing technique that gathers fabric.


Shirring is an old and versatile sewing method used to gather fabric, creating a decorative and elastic effect. This technique involves sewing multiple parallel rows of stitches along the fabric, and then pulling the threads to compress the material into gathers or pleats. Shirring adds texture and volume to a piece of fabric without the bulkiness that ruffles or pleats might add, making it an ideal choice for creating voluminous yet comfortably fitting parts of home textiles.

In interior design, shirring is often found in elements like window treatments, bedding, and other textile techniques that benefit from a flexible, bunched texture. It allows designers to add a soft, romantic touch to interiors without overwhelming the space. The method can be applied by hand or using a sewing machine equipped with a shirring elastic, which helps in evenly distributing the gathers. Professional designers also appreciate the way shirring can be used to play with light and shadow, adding depth and interest to the textiles within a space.


Shirring is frequently seen in interior design elements such as draperies, where the gathered fabric creates a rich, textured look. Bed skirts or duvet covers may also feature shirred designs for an added layer of elegance and softness. Cushion or pillow covers with shirred panels offer a luxurious touch while retaining comfort. In each of these applications, shirring brings an additional layer of texture and aesthetic appeal that enriches the overall design.


  • Can I add shirring to existing textiles in my home?

    Yes, adding shirring to existing textiles is a great way to refresh your decor. With basic sewing skills, you can apply shirring to curtains, cushions, and bedding to create a new aesthetic. Ensure you have the right tools and follow guidance for even gathers.

  • Is shirring suitable for all types of fabric?

    Shirring works best on lighter to medium-weight fabrics, such as cotton, silk, or linen. Heavier fabrics may not gather as easily and can result in a less desired effect. When choosing fabric for shirring, consider its weight and flexibility.

  • How durable is shirring in home textiles?

    Shirring can be quite durable when done correctly, especially if using a sewing machine with shirring elastic. However, the gathers do create points of tension on the fabric, so gentle washing and care are recommended to maintain its appearance.

Practical Application

When incorporating shirring into your interior design projects, consider the visual weight and texture it adds to the space. Start with small elements, like cushion covers or a single window treatment, to assess how the gathered fabric affects your overall decor. For a cohesive look, ensure that the colors and materials of your shirred items complement other elements within the room. Most importantly, remember to handle shirred textiles carefully, especially during cleaning, to preserve their decorative gathers.