Why Didn’t I Know this Gathering Trick?

Okay, this is so awesome I just can’t even believe it’s true. I didn’t figure this out on my own so I’m not even going to attempt a tutorial on it.  Some brilliant lady explained this to me on a forum. And she needed to provide me pictures so I could get it through my thick skull.

I will explain how I did it, or try.

Normally when I gather fabric, which is often making dresses for Grace, I run a basting stitch and then pull my threads to get my gathers. See this tutorial that explains it perfectly. While this worked perfectly, it is very time consuming. And some of these dresses I make Grace, call for a LOT of gathering.

Okay, here is the new BRILLIANT way.

You will be sewing with a zig zag stitch. Set it on the fairly wide stitch, until you get used to this process anyway.

Take your needle thread, and instead of pulling behind your needle, like you normally would when getting ready to sew, pull towards you. Pull out enough thread that is equal to the length you will be gathering. (just eyeball it, I’ve never come up short)

Now, the hard part to explain. You will essentially be zig zagging over that thread you just pulled out. So, you will lay your thread (needle thread) down on your fabric, the fabric that will be feeding into your machine. But, you first need to pull just about an inch or so behind the needle. (it will be looped, and you can even keep the loop around your left finger to kind of hold it in place when you first start sewing.

As you zig zag over your thread, keep the thread in the middle. If you hold the thread tight while you are sewing on it, it will automatically gather the fabric behind your needle.

When you are finished,  you have all your fabric gathered all ready. Just need to adjust a little to fit whatever you are attaching to.

Another great thing about this method of gathering is you don’t break the thread. There is nothing worse than gathering 60 inches of ruffle only to snap that thread half way through and have to start over!! 😦

So, here is a picture of my skirt I was gathering. This is RIGHT off the sewing machine.



So, now that you are more confused than ever…that’s it! Ha! I didn’t take any pictures while I was in the process, but if there is anyone reading this that needs pictures just shout. I can always add them.


12 thoughts on “Why Didn’t I Know this Gathering Trick?

  1. I use the zig zag over old/cheap dental floss I find the thickness easier to pull and has no chance of breaking 🙂 my nana taught me this and I own my own children’s line now 🙂 love love love these little tricks!

  2. So the thread you’re holding in front…you need it to be really long, right? Longer than the piece of fabric? Or about as long as the piece of fabric?

    (I have been sewing for 15 years and avoided anything with gathers b/c it is just so tedious…my “trick” before was doing the project with my mom and letting her do gathering for me!)

  3. I have to agree about the double row of stitching. It’s necessary for stabilizing the folds of fabric as you sew them to the ungathered bodice or skirt or whatever. Some times, with really full gathers, I run three rows of stitching.
    This zig zag method you describe here is similar (in principle) to one I came up with years ago, when my girls were little and I was making a lot of gathered skirts and ruffles:

    This requires a cording foot, but if you do a lot of gathering, it’s worth getting one for this. I never found out what the cording foot is actually meant for, but…I realized I could put a spool of upholstery thread on my second spool holder, pass the end through that little hole between the toes of my cording foot, and zigzag with my regular sewing thread over the top of the upholstery thread. The cording foot would center the upholstery thread exactly, so the zigzag formed a casing over it. Once I had two rows of this “couched” upholstery thread sewn in place, I could form perfect gathers by pulling the upholstery thread, which would slip easily through the zigzag casing. The upholstery thread is so strong, I’ve used this method to do Renaissance skirts with five or more yards of heavy fabric gathered tightly into cartridge pleats, without the gathering thread ever breaking.
    When you sew your gathers in place, you do want to avoid sewing through the gathering thread. Then, you can just pull out the gathering thread at the end and discard it.
    This really is the easiest, most frustration-free method for gathering fabric that I’ve come across in my thirty years of sewing for my family and clients.

    1. I agree with Joan. Been seeing since I can remember. This method is great and excellent when making bed skirts and costumes!

  4. Thanks for stopping by everyone and all the comments. I have to admit, I haven’t done gathering with this method much. I always fall back on my trusty two rows gathering by hand. Just always gives me the best results. But I was so amazed this day I had to share a fun, new to me, trick!! Thankfully I don’t gather too much these days because my girl has grown out of Ruffles. Sniff sniff. 😉

  5. Thanks for posting this. I’ve zigzagged over twine, but never thought of using the sewing thread. I think the two rows of basting might be better when evenness.of gathers is critical. I baste slightly to each side of the stitching line, then make the final seam between the gather rows.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s