How To Gather Fabric

How To Gather Fabric

Add volume & fullness to your apparel & decors by gathering fabric. Click here to learn how to gather fabric and create ruffles, for your next sewing project!
Sewing Glossary: Terms, Lingo, & Slang Reading How To Gather Fabric 6 minutes

Introduction

Do you want to add more volume to your garments? Fabric gathering is a technique used in fashion design that adds fullness and volume to a garment, or even a project like curtains.

Whether you're creating a skirt, dress, or even a simple top, adding gathers can elevate your design and give it a unique, delicate touch.

In this blog, we'll go over how to gather fabric, a few tips, and projects that utilize gathering fabric for both beginner and professional sewists alike.

How To Gather Fabric By Hand

To gather fabric, you will need to set your sewing machine's stitch length to its longest setting. This will create long, loose stitches that are easy to pull and gather the fabric.

Next, sew a row of stitching along the edge of the fabric that you want to gather. Then, sew a second row of stitching parallel to the first row, about 1/4 inch away. Once you have sewn both rows of stitching, gently pull on one of the strands of thread from the first row of stitching. This will cause the fabric to gather along the thread, creating a ruched or gathered effect.

Repeat this process for the second row of stitching, and then adjust the gathers to your desired fullness. To finish the gathers, stitch them into place.

How To Gather Fabric With A Sewing Machine

A sewing machine with a gathering foot attachment can make the process of gathering fabric much easier.

First remove the current presser foot and shank from your sewing machine and attach the gathering foot. Next set the machine to a straight stitch setting and adjust the seam allowance to create gathers.

It’s always recommended to test your adjusted settings on a piece of scrap fabric before working on any garments or décor. Once you are happy with the results, start gathering.

Fabric Gathering Tips & Tricks

  • Choose The Right Type Of Fabric

    Not all fabrics are suitable for gathering. Lightweight, sheer, and flowy fabrics like chiffon, voile, and organza work best for gathering because they are easy to manipulate and create a natural-looking gather. Stiff, heavy fabrics like denim and canvas can be difficult to gather and may have a stiff drape, but can be used to create a unique style.

  • Mark Your Fabric

    Before you begin gathering, mark the fabric where you want the gathers to be. This will help you keep the gathers evenly spaced, and in the right places. You can use a fabric marker, tailor's chalk, or even a pen or pencil.

  • Gather In Small Sections

    To create a natural-looking gather, it's best to gather the fabric in small sections rather than trying to gather the entire length at once. Divide the fabric into sections first, and then gather each one separately. Last, sew them together.

  • Secure The Gathers In Place

    A zigzag stitch is the best option for securing the gathers in place. It allows the fabric to stretch and move while still keeping the gathers in place. A straight stitch can cause the fabric to pull and pucker.

  • Adjust as necessary

    Once you've gathered the fabric and sewn it in place, try on the garment and adjust the gathers as needed. You can add or remove gathers to achieve the desired fullness and drape of the garments.

Fabric Gathering Projects

  • Skirts

    Gathered fabric can be used to create full, flowing skirts. This can be achieved by gathering the fabric along the waistline and attaching it to a waistband.

    A gathered skirt can be made from lightweight, flowy fabrics like chiffon, voile, or organza, and can be paired with a variety of different tops to create a variety of different looks.

  • Dresses

    Gathered fabric can also be used to create dresses. This can be achieved by gathering the fabric along the bodice and attaching it to a bodice or waistband.

    A gathered dress can be made from lightweight, flowy fabrics like chiffon, voile, or organza, and can be paired with a variety of different accessories to create a variety of different looks.

  • Tops

    Gathered fabric can be used to create tops with volume and fullness. This can be achieved by gathering the fabric along the neckline or sleeves and attaching it to a bodice.

    Gathered tops can be made from lightweight, flowy fabrics like chiffon, voile, or organza, and can be paired with a variety of different bottoms to create a variety of different looks.

  • Curtains

    Gathered fabric can be used to create elegant, full curtains. This can be achieved by gathering the fabric along the top edge and attaching it to a rod or bracket.

    Gathered curtains can be made from lightweight, flowy fabrics like chiffon, voile, or organza, and can be paired with a variety of different hardware to create a variety of different looks.

  • Pillows

    Gathered fabric can be used to create decorative pillows. This can be achieved by gathering the fabric along the edges and attaching it to a pillow form.

    Gathered pillows can be made from lightweight, flowy fabrics like chiffon, voile, or organza, and can be paired with a variety of different trims to create a variety of different looks.

Conclusion

Now, it's time to put your newfound skills to the test. With these instructions, tips, and project guides, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of fabric gathering. Remember to take your time, be patient, and don't be afraid to experiment with different fabrics and techniques. Happy gathering!

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