So you probably know that there’s an easy way and a right way to gather fabric. But did you know there’s a way to get gorgeous gathers every time that won’t shift or bunch when you’re setting in your sleeve or adding your gathered fabric to your project?
I learned this trick from my mom, who learned it from my grandma. My grandma was somewhat of a sewing legend in the small community where I grew up. Everyone knew she was the best seamstress around, and man, I wish I knew more of her sewing tips and tricks. I know I could have learned so much from her, but sewing now hurts her back so I missed that boat. But I love all the things I can learn as my Mom passes them down.
The Problem with One
Back to the gathers now–the fast, easy method for gathering is to baste a single line of stitches with your tension cranked to the highest setting. This creates a gentle gather as the fabric goes through the machine, and cuts your work significantly. However, they aren’t necessarily very even. And just try to get them to stay put when you’re attaching the gathered piece in place…it’s not going to happen easily.
What About Two?
So while a single line of gathers is the fastest and easiest method of gathering, the correct way to gather is to sew two rows of basting and pull the top (or bottom) threads of each row together to get your gathers. This gives you more stable gathers.
The gathers are much more even, and you have the extra security of knowing that if one row of stitches breaks, you’ll still have a backup, which saves a lot of time. However, sometimes I still get my gathers shifting and moving as I put in the sleeve. It’s because there’s still a lot of shifting that happens between the two lines of stitching.
Three is the Trick
But if you want the most stable gathers–even when you’re sewing your gathered fabric to your project--try adding a third row of stitches.
Tip: Add a third row of stitching to stabilize your gathers.
Look at how even those gathers are! They’re pretty much perfect because the third row stabilizes everything. You know how when you have two points on a line, there’s still wiggle room but when there are three points nothing moves? Same concept. Now when you sew in your sleeve, sew along the middle row, leaving the third row exposed. It will keep your gathers from shifting.
One more tip: Press your perfect gathers with lots of steam. This will help them stay in place.
Then, once everything’s sewn into place, remove the third row of basting, and you’ll have amazing gathers every time.