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In this tutorial I’ll show you how to gather. Gather is basic but fun. It makes things look feminine and fun. Start with one piece longer than another. My long piece is twice as long as my short piece.

How to Gather

Set your machine stitch length to five. This is a basting stitch.

How to Gather

Sew three lines on the edge of the long piece at 1/4″, 1/2″, and 3/4″.

How to Gather

Three lines. Sometimes when I don’t have time I’ll sew at 1/2″ and 3/4″ inch but three lines are really best.

How to Gather
Grab either the top three threads or the bottoms three threads and pull with one hand while pulling with the other.
How to Gather

My top thread is purple and my bobbin thread is blue. I’m pulling the three purple threads.

How to Gather

Once you’ve gathered a little on one side, put a pin in the fabric and wrap all six threads around it.

How to Gather

Now go to the other side and gather.  Measure the gathered piece against the short piece and pin and wrap the other side once they match lengths.

How to Gather

See how the gathers are uneven? You’re going to push and pull the gathers across until they are even.

How to Gather

Like this.

How to Gather

I like to pin every 3/4″ or so to really control the gathers as I sew.

How to Gather

When you sew the gathers to another piece of fabric, sew at 5/8″ with the gathers up so you can watch them. REMEMBER TO PUT STITCH LENGTH BACK TO NORMAL. (I always forget.) Also, a gathered piece has to be sewed to an ungathered piece. If you sew a gathered piece to a gathered piece, the gathers will move around as if they weren’t sewn down.

How to Gather

The purple thread is where I sewed, the three blue threads are the basting stitches.

How to Gather

Sometimes the gathering threads peak out the seam. Trim them off.

How to Gather

Iron the piece by going up to the gathers, but do NOT iron over the gathers. This will squish them and ruin all your hard work.

How to Gather

Iron the seam allowances without ironing the gathers.

How to Gather

Unpick the one basting stitch that is showing.

How to Gather

You are finished! This ratio is 2:1.

How to Gather

Here are some other samples from my sewing classes.
Ratio 3:1 on grainline gathers.

How to Gather

Ratio 2:1 on grainline gathers.

How to Gather

Ratio 2:1 on crossgrain gathers.

How to Gather

Ratio 1.5:1 on crossgrain gathers.

How to Gather

Ratio 3:1 on bias gathers.

How to Gather

Ratio 1.5:1 on bias gathers.

How to Gather

Grainline gathers are the most economical because you use the least fabric. Crossgrain gathers are next, and bias gathers are the most expensive because it uses a lot of fabric. Bias gathers are also the prettiest because the fabric drapes so nicely. Grainline gathers are next, and crossgrain gathers are the least pretty. Really the only reason to use crossgrain gathers is if there is a border print on the fabric that you want to use.
I hope all this makes sense! Have fun with your gathers! There are so many things you can do with gathers. Like gathering lace. . .

How to Gather

Author: Heather