Gathering is a sewing technique where the fabric is bunched together to create a ruffle effect.
We all know the basic method for gathering, right? You stitch two or three rows of basting stitches, grab and hold the top thread tails, and push the fabric with your fingers to create the gathers. While this works perfectly well for lightweight to medium fabrics, trying to gather heavier weight fabrics, like denim, might snap those delicate threads. And you know what is perfect when made in something like denim, twill, or corduroy? The Brumby skirt! But not to worry, we have some tips for creating the perfect gathers in even the heaviest of fabrics.
1. sticking with the conventional
If you want to try and stick to the basic method of gathering, there are a couple of tricks to keep those threads form snapping. Really, it all comes down to the stitch length. While lighter fabrics gather better with a length of around 3.5 (you can control the gathers better so they don’t slide), a longer stitch length for heavy fabrics will not be as tight, which will help prevent thread breakage. Try maxing it out at 5.0. Or play around and test out lengths to find what works best for your fabric.
Also, always always use more than one row of parallel stitches.
2. zig zag over cord
An easier way to get those gathers with your heavy fabric is to zig zag stitch over a thicker piece of thread. It could be cord, embroidery floss, very thin ribbon or elastic, or in my case – bakers twine.
Always stitch this one from the wrong side of your fabric. Again, find the stitch width and length that best works for the cord that you are working with. You will want to clear the cord on either side, so that your stitches do not catch it. For the twine that I used, I set my width to 4.5 and the length to 2.0.
Place your cord/string/ribbon in the center of your dresser foot, leaving an inch or so of ”tail” at the beginning, and zig zag over it. Again – be careful not to catch the cord with your stitching.
Then just pull on the cord while pushing and gathering the fabric with your fingers.
3. gather with elastic
Another simple way to create gathers is by sewing over elastic. This isn’t always the best option for all garments, as it creates extra bulk in the seam. But if that is not something you are worried about, this method goes super fast!
Cut a piece of elastic the length of your gathered piece. Pin one end of the elastic to one end of your garment, and the other end to the other end. Find the center of the elastic, and pin it to the center of the garment. Place your fabric underneath the presser foot, and pull and stretch the elastic so that it runs even with the fabric. Stitch down the center of the elastic as you stretch it.
Let me know if you have any questions in comments! Holly xoxo