Sewing Gathers on Clothing?

I can easily gather the fabric and arrange the ruffling, what I have never been able to do well is keep the gathers where I want them when I sew the gathered section to the main fabric. Help!


By Marie F.

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January 9, 20140 found this helpful

After you arrange the gathers to your satisfaction, Use masking tape or painters tape just above and below the gathering thread to hold them in place. You can sew between the tapes on the machine and then peel it off.

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January 13, 20140 found this helpful

You can also using basting tape, it doesn't have the potential to leave sticky residue. :) I don't really recommend basting (or any other sort) tape as it can sometimes be a real beast to clear off your project!


A fairly fail-proof method you can use is:

*Run your gathering stitches between the markings as indicated on your pattern.

*Before adjusting the gathers, pin to the garment or item ONLY at indicated notches/markings (if a sleeve also match the centre dot/marking to the shoulder seam).

Don't do the 'basting' pinning yet (along the seam line); at most you should have no more than three to six pins in because you're only pinning at the markings, not all along the seam line. (Please believe me, this really does work)

Use extra long pins with a very defined head. I use quilting pins for all of my sewing and I teach my students to do the same (yes, I'm a sewing teacher :).

Quilting pins have a large defined head and come in very handy for the next step.

*Carefully adjust your gathers evenly between the pins at the markings/notches/shoulder or other seam. Carefully distribute the gathers between and right up to the pins.


*Now do a 'flag-pole' wrap with the gathering row(s) threads around the two pins of your beginning and ending gather row(s).

A flag-pole wrap is a figure eight wrap around the pins using the heads as the rounding section (be sure your gathering threads wrap around under the pin head) and coming up around the pointed end sticking out of your pinned sections. Wrap the threads snugly up and around each pin until you have wrapped all of the gathering threads but don't worry if the threads unwrap a few times as you handle your fabrics. If you wrap snugly very little of your wrapped threads will come loose.

*Check to be sure your gathers are evenly adjusted. If not, now is the time to make any adjustments needed. Don't unwrap, just slide the gathers around until all the gathering is even (you'll see what I mean when you do this). Then pin the rest of the seam line, being careful not to disturb the gathers. It really is easy, trust me.


*And now sew your seam(s). As you reach the flag-pole wrapped pins simply remove the pin and drape the excess thread away from the seaming area. Don't cut those threads just yet!

*Turn your item right side out and have a look. You should have a beautifully and evenly gathered item. If not, carefully unpick, repeat the above until you have the look you want.

*Check one more time to be sure the gathers are even. If yes, then go ahead and carefully trim those long streams of gathering threads. Then carefully unpick any gathering stitches that show on the right side (not at all unusual, even the 'best' sewers have gathering or basting stitches sneak out front, lol! Happens to all of us all of the time. :)

*It helps to read this mini-tute through several times before trying it, and to print a hard copy to refer to without having to run back and forth to the computer. As you succeed at each step make a tick-check mark to help you keep your place.


Please post an update if you follow the above. Good or bad, the feedback will help the next sewer find his/her way through the gathering process. Which was not easy for me until I discovered this method in the 1989 Vogue-Butterick Sewing book. I found the tip in 1995 and have used it successfully ever since+taught it to hundreds of sewing students, even children.

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