Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Gather Knit Fabric

Some elements of sewing can be daunting to newcomers so every other week we are collecting some of the best hints and tips for those tricky parts of sewing you may be scared of.  Hopefully these useful tricks will give you the confidence to try new things you previously thought were beyond you!  Today's topic is gathering!

Gathering with any fabric seems (pardon the pun) like it can be tricky but there are several techniques you can use to get the perfect gather on your knit fabrics and it really is easier than it looks.

Traditional Baste Stitch Method

This is the standard way to get your gather which most people will be aware of.  If you're not aware of it here is a great video tutorial by Dana from MADE Everyday - 
Top Tips for Baste & Gather
1  DON'T BACKSTITCH! It will probably be ingrained in your brain to automatically back stitch but if you do you won't be able to draw your thread to create the gather!
2  Use the longest stitch possible on your machine.  This will make the gather easier and less likely to break.  Give yourself a good few inches of thread at each end of your baste stitch so you have something to get hold of.
3  Use 2 or 3 lines of baste stitching.  This may seem excessive but it gives a more even and straighter gather and also gives you back ups if one line breaks.
4  Go slow with your baste stitches and get them as straight as possible.
5  Only pull the top or bottom basting stitch, not both sides.
6  Don't cut your threads until after you have sewn the gathered fabric and flat fabric together.  This still gives you control when sewing your fabrics together if you need to make adjustments at any point.
7  Use a different colour thread in your bobbin so you can easily identify which thread to pull on.  The bobbin thread is always easier to pull so sew from the right side of the fabric.
8  If you find you lose your gather by pulling a thread through the fabric, try this Closed End method by the Seasoned Homemaker
9  When sewing the gather to the flat fabric, have the gathered side face up so you can make sure the gathers aren't folding or falling under the seam allowance (this works for all the methods we discuss here).
https://www.seasonedhomemaker.com/how-to-gather-fabric-and-make-ruffles/

Clear Elastic Method

Clear elastic is a modern marvel and if you haven't tried it for gathering yet you really should!  Dixie from Treasurie has an excellent tutorial for gathering with clear elastic HERE.
how-to-gather-with-clear-elastic-6a
Top Tips for Clear Elastic
1  Cut your elastic to the same length as the flat fabric, not the ruffle fabric!
2  Mark your elastic with a pen and pin your gather fabric at mid and quarter points (or more if doing a longer gather so you can easily line them up when sewing.
3  Stretch your elastic a few times before you stitch it.
4  Make sure your elastic is fully within your seam allowance so you don't have to remove it once you have stitched it in.

The Floss Method 

This method is similar to the baste and gather method and it's a great alternative to both the above methods if you haven't got any clear elastic or are gathering a tricky or heavy fabric as the floss is stronger than standard thread so is less likely to break..  See the full tutorial by Allie at Indie Sew HERE.  You could also use string, cord or heavy duty thread in place of the floss if you don't have any.  An alternative to this method is to use your bobbin thread, see tip 8 on this great tutorial by Nancy Zieman
Zig Zag Stitch for Gathering Knits

Gathering on a Serger/Overlocker

If you are gathering on an overlocker, there is a great Craftsy tutorial HERE and Heather from our US sister company has written this excellent tutorial for changing the settings on your machine to get different gathers.

Specialised Feet

You could also use a Ruffler Foot or Gathering Foot on your standard machine, but if you haven't used them before they can be tricky set up and obviously have an additional cost.

Image result for ruffler footImage result for gather foot

If you only have a small amount of gathering (waistband on a dress, sleeves etc.) the following methods are usually quicker and produce the same results.  If you do have one of these feet and want to learn how to use them, these tutorials from Sewing Parts Online are very good - 
Now you can get the perfect gather every time!

For more ideas, patterns and tutorials, follow Girl Charlee's boards on Pinterest.

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Happy Sewing!
~ Mark & The Girl Charlee Team

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for such a helpful post! its always really useful to see several different ways of doing something.

    ReplyDelete