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Sewing Techniques / Tips & Tutorials

Quick tip: gathering stretch fabrics

So have you ever had trouble getting nice gathers on stretchy fabric?

Well here’s my little trick: put a bobbin of elastic thread in your machine instead of your regular thread, and sew two lines of stitches at the longest stitch length. I normally sew them at 3/5″ from the raw edge and just under 5/8″ from the raw edge. The fabric will gather up automatically and evenly! Perfect gathers every time. It even helps prevent those icky wavy seam joins that can happen with knits. Just make sure that that the elastic basting is hidden in the seamline, and don’t unpick your basting – it will help keep everything in place. Also – don’t forget to experiment! Heavy knits will take more rows to gather up well and lighter knits may only need one.

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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maddie
8 years ago

Great tip, Megan. Thank you! I’ve never used elastic thread – call me old school, I gather fabric with two rows of stitching using normal thread.

Rachel
8 years ago

What a great tip! I love to sew with knits and will have to try it!

Helen
8 years ago

Interesting tip. I’ve never tried to gather knits, but got the Ruched Maternity tee recently and am about to start making it. I will bear this in mind.

Brienne
8 years ago

These are my favorite kind of posts. And just what I was looking for today! Thanks for the help:)

Linda
Linda
8 years ago

Wonderful tip! Thanks a lot Meg!

Juli
8 years ago

Great tip! :-)

Susanne
Susanne
8 years ago

Yeah, this is my favorite way of gathering and I also use it for wovens. Works just as well. Maybe not so for heavier wovens but with lawn, voile or popeline weight wovens it works great. Also have made it work for baby curdoroy and light denim :)

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

Hi
Just had a quick question about using this technique for ruffles. I’m planning on putting a little ruffle on the bottom of a briar so how long do I make my ruffle before gathering? If I make it twice the length of the hem and then gather it will that work? Thanks!!

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[…] le diable en allant dans un magasin de tissus pour m’en procurer!! ) j’ai utilisé la méthode proposée par Megan Nielsen et qui ne nécessite qu’une bobine de fil […]

amybrice
8 years ago

Love love this!! I have spent many hours gathering jersey. I think this will save a ton of time. Thank you!

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[…] shade of blush. Self drafted pattern. The gathering was a nightmare though. I recently came across this tutorial that I will definitely try next time in order to stop the urge to rip the thing to shreds out of […]

Sheron
Sheron
8 years ago

Hello