How to Gather:
Today we are going to continue our “What I Wish I’d Known When I Started Sewing” series with a day dedicated to gathering.
Because we like big skirts and full dresses we kind of have gathering down to a science so we are excited to share with you a technique that we use ALL THE TIME.
Now before we show you how to gather we want to talk a little bit about what gathering is.
Gathering is a technique that helps control fabric fullness. It is a process that draws a given amount of fabric into a smaller, predetermined area. During the gathering process fabric will usually be gathered in to one third or one half it’s original width. This is done along one or more stitching lines in order to create soft, even folds.
Alright now that we know what gathering is let’s get to doing it!
There are a variety of ways to gather fabric but today we are going to share our two favorite ways.
The first process we are going to show you is a simple machine gathering process that we use on almost all of our skirts and dresses.
To begin set your machine to make long basting stitches (I set my stitch length on a 4 or higher).
Then run two parallel lines of stitching inside your seam allowance area. (As shown in the photograph below.) *Note the heavier the fabric the longer your stitch lengths should be.
Now pull both bobbin threads and slide the fabric in the opposite direction to create the gathers. (As is shown in the picture below.) *Note: Only pull either BOTH bobbin threads or BOTH top threads but don’t pull all 4 threads or any other combination of threads.
After you have your fabric gathered into the desired width then lay your fabric out and adjust your gathers so they are soft, even, and nicely spaced. (As shown in the photograph below.)
Now pin your gathered fabric to the fabric you will be attaching it to and sew! (Just remember to keep your two basting stitches safely inside your seam line so they won’t show when you are finished!) And when you are done you should love your finished product.
After all…who doesn’t love full gathered skirts!!!
Now there is one more gathering technique that we quickly wanted to share. If you are using stiff or heavy fabric (like upholstery fabrics) there is another process that is much easier to gather with. (For me anyways.) And here it is:
First you are going to need a thin cord (or a piece of yarn like I use) that is as long as the piece of fabric to be gathered.
Then you run that cord down the length of your fabric (inside the seam allowance) and machine stitch a wide zigzag over the top of the cord (or yarn) like in the photograph below. The zigzag stitch will act as a loose casing for the cord. Just be careful not to catch your cord in your stitching.
Next pull the cord one way and slide your fabric the other way to create your gathers. (As shown in the photograph below.)
Next adjust your gathers…even them out…make them look nice…and then run a stitch just below your zigzag stitch to hold your gathering in place. (As shown in the photograph below.)
Now remove your cord (or yarn). Simply pull it straight out.
And you are ready to attach that heavy fabric to another piece of heavy fabric and have it all nice, full, and fluffy!
Good Luck!!! And may all your gathers be full!
Now as a treat we have what might be my favorite “What I Wish I’d Known When I Started Sewing” advice. It is from our friend Amber over at Crazy Little Projects (who by the way has an AWESOME series going on right now over at her blog that you should check out). She says:
“When you sew you WILL make mistakes. It’s just part of the process (even when you’ve been sewing for years). Try to see beauty in using the seam ripper. The seam ripper is not your enemy, it is your friend. How many other things in life allow you to go back, undo what you’ve done and try again? Not many. So embrace that seam ripper. And use it when needed.”
Love that! And watch for her gift in the giveaway at the end of this month…it is an ADORABLE framed “Keep Calm and Get The Seam Ripper” graphic in your choice of colors. (You can sneak a peek of them HERE.) Thanks Amber!