Gathering

Another new technique for me – gathering.  There are lots of ways to gather, but I’ll just tell you about the two methods I tried.

I started out using the method described in the skirt pattern (let’s call this the power of three method), but I definitely need to get some more practice in.  The idea is to set your stitch length to its longest setting and stitch three parallel lines quite close together along the edge of the fabric (the edge that you’re trying to gather, obviously.  Then you can pull the three threads from one side and slide the fabric along to create the gathering.  At least, that’s what is supposed to happen.

I forgot to get photos of my four (yes, four!) disastrous attempts at this method, but my threads just kept snapping and I kept losing all of my gathering.  How frustrating.  After hours of stressing over my machine, I turned to the Internet to find some video tutorials.

And Bingo!  I found a technique that worked for me.  The idea behind this method is to find a bit of topstitching thread in a contrast colour (or you could use embroidery cotton, or cord of some kind) and zigzag stitch either side of it, making sure not to catch any of topstitching thread in the process.

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When you’re done, the topstitching thread slides very easily between the zigzag stitches.  You can hold onto the topstitching thread and use you other hand to slide the fabric along to create the scrunching effect you need.  I get the feeling that the zigzag method gives less control over how the gathering ends up, but it worked for me, and I’m quite happy with the result.

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Looking back, I think the power of three method is perfectly adequate for lighter fabrics.  Rachel is making the same skirt and the power of three worked fine for her, but she’s using a much lighter fabric.  Dan is also making a skirt with a gathered waist, but she had to use the zigzag method – she is using denim.

Lessons learnt:

1.   The sooner you accept that your gathering isn’t going to be perfectly distributed along your waistband the better.  You can spend ages playing with the gathers and making them perfect, pinning them onto your waistband (and I mean pinning the life out of them!) and twiddling them, but the second you run them under the sewing machine the foot moves them around a bit anyway.  Gathers aren’t supposed to be perfect – but it did absolutely nothing for the perfectionist in me.

2.   If you are gathering a long stretch of fabric, like I was, divide it into sections and gather each section separately.  It will be far easier than trying to gather the whole thing at once.

3.   Remember not to gather your placket!

Now, all I have left to do are my buttonholes and buttons.  That will only take half an hour, right?

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4 thoughts on “Gathering

  1. I always had issues with gathering, until my dressmaking teacher told me to use a pin to hook out the ends of the gathering stitches so that they are on the top of the fabric before pulling. It works a treat! Looking forward to seeing the skirt complete with buttons. 🙂

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  2. Gathering a thick material can certainly be a challenge – your skirt looks pretty even to me. I Iove your hedgehog fabric!! I recently revisited shirring elastic to gather the bodice of a girl’s dress and that was quite fun to do. Look forward to seeing your finished skirt soon!

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