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Fine Gathering Techniques
Susan Wigley, Paragon Patterns


Have you ever done gathering the old fashioned way? You know the method. The one that you sew 2 rows of stitching 1/4" apart using long stitches then pull the threads to make the gathers. Have you ever been frustrated when you get it almost done and the threads break? I know I have. It usually looked more like uneven little pleats when I finished it too. Not very professional!

 I'm going to show you a better way, that will give you fine, even gathers. There are many different ways to produce gathers; however, the one I am about to explain is by far my favorite. I learned this method years ago, at Seattle Central Community College, when I was working on my degree in Apparel Design. Give it a try next time you need to do some gathering. It has worked beautifully for me every time. 

For the sake of clarity, I will explain this method for a skirt sewn to a bodice, however, this method works very well on anything that is gathered.

Step 1: Loosen the tension to 0-1 on the dial.

Step 2: Adjust your stitch length to 14-16 stitches per inch (small stitches produce small gathers).

Step 3: Sew 2 rows of stitching 1/4" apart along the seam line at the top of the skirt, making certain that you back-tack at one end to securely anchor the stitches.

Step 4: To gather, pull on the Bobbin threads until the skirt fits the bodice. It should gather easily, if it doesn't you'll want to loosen the tension a little more next time, so it is loose. Tie the ends off securely.

Step 5: Adjust the gathers by hand to distribute them evenly around the skirt. Then to "fine tune" the gathers, drag a large needle or an awl across the stitches. I know it sounds strange, but try it. It works!

Step 6: Set your top tension back to the normal sewing tension for your machine.

Step 7: Sew the skirt to the bodice along the seam line. Finish the seam as usual. The result will be very fine gathers that are evenly spaced all the way around.

An excerpt from Professional Sewing Tips 
By Susan Wigley Copyright
1999. All Right Reserved.

Susan is the founder of www.paragonpatterns.com and the author of  
"Professional Sewing Tips".

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