Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gathering Made Easy - Tutorial

Don't you hate running two gathering stitch lines to get nice gathers?  Me too.  I found an old class instruction sheet from years ago when I first learned to use my machine.  Wanna know what was in the packet?  Yep, an easier way to run gathers. I had totally forgotten it!

This has to be the easiest way ever to create perfect gathers.  I thought I would share it with you.  I'm working on this bag and used this method to get the gathers on the ruffle you see below.  Notice I used a contrasting thread, so it also acts as decoration?

Okay, so here we go.  First, determine how long/wide the piece is you want to gather.  For my purposes, I wanted roughly 17".  See below.  This is my lining piece for my bag, and I'm gathering the bottom to attach to the bottom piece of the bag.

Next, grab your top and bobbin threads and pull them out about 2" more than your width.  In my case, I pulled them out about 19".

I even put it across my project just to be sure I had enough.

Now slide your work under your presser foot and keep both threads pulled out in front as shown.  Make certain you line up your stitches inside the seam allowance.  You don't want them showing when you make your final stitches.

Now set your machine for a zigzag stitch.  I have a Viking and set my stitch length at 1.5 and width at 4.  You want to be sure your needle swings OVER the threads.  If you catch them, it won't work.  Don't catch the threads.  Take a few stitches then make sure your threads sit right in the middle of your presser foot.

Slowly stitch over your pulled threads.  Here's what it looks like from the side.

When you reach the end, pull the piece from under your presser foot and cut the threads you used to stitch with.  DO NOT CUT THE THREADS YOU'VE PULLED IN FRONT.  THOSE ARE YOUR GATHERING THREADS.  You want to get those others out of the way though, because it gets confusing trying to figure out which ones to pull when they are all bunched up together.

Now grab the 2 long threads and start pulling them to gather.

You can even tug these a little harder than you would normally.  These won't break easily.

And there you have it!  Perfect gathers, and you didn't break any string.  How easy was that??

Here is what it looks like from the back side after I basted my piece in place.  I'm pointing to my gathering stitches.  Notice they are in my seam allowance?

Now go make some gathers!  You'll never be afraid to do these again.  And you won't wine either.  Oh wait, that's just me.

These are fantastic if you are doing puffing on sleeves for heirloom sewing.

Happy gathering!!


  1. THANK YOU!!! I have fits when I have to gather. What a pain!! This looks like it will be SOOOO much better! And the gathers won't fall out! :))

  2. You will love this method! Let me know how it works for you.

  3. Angela - WOW!!! I cannot wait to try this - no more worrying about breaking the gathering thread. I love the ruffle on your bag - so beautiful! Thank you for this tutorial, it is so helpful!

  4. Thanks Kim. Let me know how it works. You can use this method on your ruffled tea towels.

  5. I will definitely report back - I am really getting comfortable with changing the stitch width and stitch length on my machine ;)