Gathers are created when fabric fullness is drawn into a smaller size. Usually, before the fabric piece is sewn to another part of the garment such as a sleeve head or where a cuff is attached. Another common area is the waistband area of a gathered skirt or attached ruffle.
While you can gather by hand sewing, using your sewing machine is quicker and will help ensure even-sized gathers.
How gather on your sewing machine
- Mark the fabric with the start and stop point for the gathers
- Increase your sewing machine stitch length to the longest setting and decrease your machine tension to the lowest setting
- Pull both, the needle and bobbin, thread tails out about 4-5" and place them under your presser foot and to the back of the machine
- Sew a line of stitching inside the seam allowance, usually lining up the edge of your fabric with the edge of your presser foot is a good width for the first row.
- Move your fabric over just a bit and sew another line of stitches down the fabric, again do not backstitch.
- Place a straight pin at one end of the rows and wrap your thread tails around the pin
- Separate your thread tails. Gently pull on one thread tail and slide the fabric over
- Pull on the thread tail in the other row. Continue pulling on the thread tails and sliding the fabric over.
- Distribute the gathers of fabric evenly
Once you have your gathers evenly spaced refer to your project directions. Many patterns will call for a regular row of stitching to sew the gathers in place before moving on.