As we get ever-nearer to the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, I am frantically trying to juggle all that has to get done, including my outfit. I have decided that I NEED to sew up a pattern that I own which requires gathering…a LOT of gathering, so I was thinking that maybe others would like to follow along as I give some hints and methods for gathering woven and knits.
Just so that everyone is on the same page, I am going to be demonstrating the techniques with a sewing machine, a serger, and explaining how one could even gather your fabric by hand sewing it. *gasp* Hand stitching isn’t everyone’s favorite method, but it works, if you are away from your machines or just prefer the analog life.
I am going to demonstrate these techniques with scrap fabric, so that the stitches can be clearly seen. With wovens and a home sewing machine, I recommend the two rows of parallel long straight stitches/basting stitches method. First, you sew 2 parallel rows of elongated (like a 4-5 length stitch) straight stitches (almost a basting stitch). **Don’t do a backstitch/locking stitch to start or end these rows of stitches.
When you are done choose ONE ROW (I usually choose the top row) and make sure that you can gently pull the thread form BOTH ends. What you want to do is to gently pull from one side, predominantly, but will need to end pulling from the opposite side of the SAME thread/row (if you try to pull entirely from one side only, it could end with you pulling that thread completely out). Another choice that you have is to gather a little bit from the opposite side and tie a securing knot to keep it in place (or you could wait until the end, or live dangerously, if you know that you are going to sew over and secure both sides of the gather with your machine as it attaches to another pattern piece.
Slowly inch from one side to the other, keeping in mind the gathering needs for that pattern (sometimes, it is only a few inches that have to be gathered at 50%, and sometimes it can be more or less of either of these measurements).
When you are done gathering the entire piece, it can look as tightly gathered as this.
This method can also be used on knits, but I recommend just gathering on your serger, if you have one, as it is a lot faster.
For gathering your fabric with a serger, there does exist a gathering foot for most sergers, but since a lot of people that I know do not own this, I am going to demonstrate this with a standard presser foot.
First, you want to adjust your serger settings. I choose to move my differential feed to 2.0 (from N) and stitch length to 4.0 (from 2). This allows for the machine to do all of the hard work for you.
Next, I assist the gather by bunching up my fabric in an orderly manner so that it feeds through the serger at an enhanced gather rate. If you only need a 25% gather, you don’t need to do this.
When it is done, it will look like this.
Finally, I will demonstrate how easy it is to gather by hand. You have a lot more control with this method, but it can take longer, depending on the length of your gather (for the Emma, it is a very long gather, and about 3 tiers of it (meaning 3 different gathers around the entire circumference of the dress). Hand sewing is not going to be my go-to here for this project (but that’s a personal preference).
First, you will make sure that your thread is knotted and start your gathering stitch from the wrong side of the fabric.
Next, you will sew your stitches and either stitch and pull gently to gather to your desired gathering percentage,
…or gather the fabric on your needle to gather it as you go.
When you are done, you just knot off the end on the wrong side, and you are done!
If anyone has any questions about any of these techniques, please feel free to leave me a comment or find me on Facebook.com/JotDesigns and ask all the questions that you have. Thanks!! And I hope that your holiday gatherings are relaxing, peaceful, and filled with lots of love!