How To Gather With A Sewing Machine

 Preparing to Gather with a Sewing Machine

Do you want to learn how to gather with a sewing machine? Gathered fabric can give a beautiful and professional look to clothing, quilts, and any project that requires fabrics of different widths to be sewn together. The end result of gathered fabric can be a stunning compliment to what you’ve created. This tutorial will take you through the steps of gathering different width fabrics with a sewing machine.

 Gathering Different Width Fabrics

For fabrics of different widths, you need to first adjust your stitch length on the sewing machine to the longest stitch setting. The longer the stitch length, the more gathers you’ll get. You can then start sewing on the two pieces of fabric, right sides together. Make sure to start on the right side of the fabric, as this will give you an aesthetic finish.

 Gathering Wide Fabrics

When gathering wide fabrics, you need to use a wide stitch. This means the stitch length can be set to your normal size and a wider stitch width can be selected. This will help you to gather the wider fabrics and should be done in sections. This means you need to sew several lines of stitches and then make sure to leave a few inches between each line.

 Using Elastic Thread

Elastic thread can be used when gathering wide fabrics. Elastic thread allows you to create gathers without having to adjust your stitch length. To use elastic thread, you need to thread your machine with the normal thread for your upper spool and the elastic thread for your bobbin spool. When you sew the fabric, the elastic thread will be on the underside of the fabric and the regular thread will be on the top. This is a great way to create gathers without changing the stitch length.

 Gathering with Ruffler Foot

Most sewing machines come with a ruffler foot which allows you to gather fabric quickly and easily. The ruffler foot is a pressure foot that is used to vary the tension while gathering fabric. It has three settings, the first setting adjusts the length of the fabric, the second setting controls the depth of the pleats and the third setting varies the number of pleats per inch. By using this foot, you can easily adjust the tension on the fabric for gathering.

 Preparing the Fabric for Gathers

Before you start gathering your fabric, it’s important to make sure the fabric is properly prepared. This means washing, pressing and ironing the fabric so that it’s easy to work with. The fabric should be pressed so that it lays flat and without any wrinkles or folds. This will ensure that the finished product looks professional and neat.

 Making a Test Gathering

Before you start gathering a large piece of fabric, it’s a good idea to practice on a scrap piece of fabric first. This will allow you to see how the gathered fabric looks and how the setting on your sewing machine affects the gathering. This way you can make sure you’re happy with the finished product before you start gathering on your main piece of fabric.

 Tying Off Threads

Once you’re finished gathering your fabric, you need to tie off the threads. This is important as you want to make sure the fabric doesn’t unravel before you’re finished working with it. To tie off your threads, you can use a knot or simple back stitch. This will make sure the fabric holds its gathers until you’re ready for the next step.

 Tips for Successful Gathers

When gathering fabrics, it’s important to take care to ensure the gathers turn out perfect. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Always use a good quality thread as low-quality thread can cause the fabric to bunch or fray.
  • Always press the fabric before gathering as this will make sure all the gathers turn out perfect.
  • If you’re making a large project, it’s a good idea to make a test piece first to make sure the gathers are coming out just as you want them to.
  • Always tie off your threads before using the gathered fabric so that it doesn’t unravel.

 Types of Gathering Techniques

When gathering fabrics with a sewing machine, there are several different techniques that you can use to achieve different levels of gathering.

  • Box Pleating: Box pleating is a great technique for gathering a long piece of fabric. It consists of four folds that expand outward and are secured with a single line of stitching.
  • Knit Gathers: Knit gathers are great for elastic waistbands or gathered sleeves. They are made by sewing a line of stitches around the edge of the fabric and pulling on the threads to create gathers.
  • Inverted Gathers: Inverted gathers are a great way to give a decorative element to the fabric. They are made by sewing a line of stitches near the edge of the fabric and then gathering the fabric to the edge.
  • Plain Gathers: Plain gathers are made by sewing two lines of stitching around the fabric and then gathering the fabric in the center. This technique is great for gathering curtains, tablecloths and clothing.

 Other Sewing Machines for Gathering

Gathering can also be achieved by using a serger or a cover stitch machine. The advantage of using a serger is that it creates a nice and neat finish which is perfect for hemming and other types of stitching. A cover stitch machine is great for gathering lightweight fabrics, such as t-shirt fabric, and can be used to create beautiful and professional-looking ruffles.

 Crafting with Sewing Machine Gathering

Once you’ve mastered gathering with a sewing machine, you’ll find it’s a great way to make fashionable and unique items. You can gather fabric to create skirts, dresses, baby clothes and much more. By using different techniques and fabrics, you can create custom dresses, skirts and more that have a professional look and feel.


Learning how to gather with a sewing machine is a great way to add an extra layer of elegance to your sewing projects. With a few simple steps and techniques, you can create stunning and professional-looking pieces with ease. With a little practice and the right tools, you’ll be able to create fabric pieces of any size and shape with perfect gathering every time.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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