I’ve had some requests recently for sewing basics so today I’d like to discuss how to sew a gathering stitch. Learning how to gather fabric is a basic sewing technique, and essential for garment sewing, but it can be challenging when you are first learning.
I would LOVE IT if you would take a few minutes to leave a comment with any sewing basics that you’d like to see here on the blog. It will obviously take some time to create a good pool of basics, but it will help to know what your interests are!
Clearly, I like a lot of ruffling to accompany “my style.” And while it may be old hat to many of you, gathering and stitching fabric can be an intimidating process for others – I know it definitely was for me when I started sewing garments! I’m going to show you the process of gathering a skirt to join it to a bodice that will give you the cleanest results with (hopefully!) the least amount of frustration and/or mess. The trick is this: sew two lines of gathering stitches, press and steam your gathers, and pin a lot!! Incorporate those three things and you’ll be good! Ready?
Prepare your skirt pieces so that they’re ready to attach to the bodice. First, you’ll sew two parallel rows of long (gathering) stitches around the top of the skirt. (Stitch length long, tension loose.)
Use this gathering technique for perfect ruffles added to anything! It’s not necessarily limited to attaching a gathered skirt to bodice. You would use this technique if you’re gathering a skirt to add it to a waistband or to add a ruffle to the bottom of your garment.
SO!! Is this how you do a gathering stitch?? Is this Sewing Basics tutorial helpful? What other Sewing Basics would you like to see on the Girl. Inspired. blog??
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Comments & Reviews
Sharon Oleaga says
That’s a great tutorial. I use glass headed straight pins and so steam ironing with them in place is fine – but I would be afraid to try that if I had cheap plastic headed pins.
Great reminder, Sharon!
I am just getting into sewing for myself after many years of boring curtains & pillowcases. I enjoyed the video on how to sew gathers. Never thought of using 2 rows of stitching though I’ve been using gathers quite a lot with a homemade pattern for nighties.
Granny Suzy says
I know this post is rather old, but I’d like to suggest another way and hope someone sees it. Try using twin needles if your machine works with them. This way you get both rows done at the same time. The best “twins” for this would be the ones with a 6mm spread. And if you’re making something that can be done with just one line of gathering, try this quick machine gathering method: set your stitch length to at least 4mm, tighten your upper tension significantly and stitch away. Your machine will gather the fabric as you go; easy-peasy. Alternatively, you could simply buy a gathering foot. And if your ends are not tied off, you can easily adjust the results of this method should it be necessary.
Please note, the tension setting for this quick machine gathering method is initially a “guesstimate”, so please practice on some scraps first.
I’ve actually thought of trying the quick gather method with twin needles installed but have never yet tried it. Anybody want to give it a shot?
Thanks for the precise tips. My grandma taught me how to gather a skirt, but I always had trouble the thread braking. I will make sure to pull the bobbin thread.
Thanks, although this appears to be an older post, it just popped up on my Pinterest, it is new to me. There are a couple steps you did i have never done, hoping when I add those steps my gathering is better.
Ah! Good luck! We learn new little tricks all the time, huh? Happy sewing!
Omg could you do a zipper adding video plz?
Great idea! I don’t think I’ve done a zipper video before. What kind of zippers do you need help with? Regular or invisible? Both?
C. Gresham says
I’ve had a project on hold for almost a year because I couldn’t get the ruffles to behave! I use two rows of long stitches but picked up several tips from this article and now will go back and try it again. Thank you so much.
Wonderful! Let me know how it turns out!
thank u.Love to know the basics of front openings.
Thanks for your directions! I used contrasting thread for the basting stitches to make removal easier.
A beginner “GATHERER” can sometimes benefit by not only marking center front and back, and sides, but also bring front to side and mark it as well. You’ll have eight marks instead of four on the gathered piece and eight marks on the piece you’re attaching to. (I know that’s poor grammar). A marking pen is easier for beginners too so they don’t have lost pins to deal with.
The third row of gathering threads is a really good idea if you have a very long piece to gather. I’ve had students get almost to the end and a row breaks. One other thing:. Someone might have mentioned this, but if it’s a really nice long ruffle, I have started In the middle and stitched to the end.
Your photos and explanations are good.
That was very helpful. I always had trouble getting my gather even and to stay even. My biggest problem seems to be I only used one line of loose stitching instead of two. Do you have any helpful hints on sewing sleeves in? I always wrestle with that too. Thank you.
Thank you for this tutorial. I learned to mark with pins,to steam your gathers, sew down the middle and use lots of pins. I would love to see an article about different types of fabrics. When I go into a store, I feel overwhelmed with choices. It would be nice to have one article about their basic differences,even though I know to check the pattern for suggestions.
I sew the two gather stitch lines in a contrast color. That way when it comes time to sew between them I can tell which is which.