How to Gather Fabric Using 3 Methods and Their Purpose

Have you always wanted to know how to gather fabric? Then, keep on reading for not just one, not just two, but three ways to gather fabric!

How to Gather Fabric: Your Guide to Sewing Mastery!

Gathering is a very useful sewing skill you must acquire if you’re serious about sewing. Knowing how to gather fabric is a special skill which allows you to create embellishments on your garment (for example, ruffles). It also allows you to have more freedom with what you want to make! Understanding how to gather fabric depends on four things: the purpose of gathering, the length and type of fabric, and where the gathering is located. In all these methods, you must remember the basic principle of gathering: holding the bobbin thread as you slide the basted fabric along the thread until it gathers. Now, let’s get to the different ways of how to gather fabric!


The Baste Stitch

The basic principle for gathering does not guarantee success 100% of the time. For insurance, we resort to three different methods of gathering, one of which is sewing two rows of basting stitches. It’s the easiest and most common way of preventing the thread from breaking or the gathering to clump together.

Step 1: Sew two rows of basting stitches

Sew two rows of basting stitches about 1/4 inch apart along the edge of the garment. The second basting stitch ensures you have something you can use to gather the fabric in case the first row of basting stitch breaks. Moreover, the gap between the first and second row of basting stitches keeps the fabric from twisting when pulled.

Step 2: Push the fabric

Pull the bottom thread and push the fabric along the thread until you achieve your desired gathering. Use the bottom thread for this step because it moves easier than the top thread.


Advanced Baste Stitch Method

Gathered fabric normally goes with other kinds of sewing. Most of the time, we find ourselves having to sew a gathered fabric to a flat fabric. An example of this situation is attaching cuffs to the body of the garment. All you have to do is join the two kinds of fabric together at their raw edges (gathered fabric on top), and pin them together. The pins must be evenly-spaced and inserted perpendicular to the two basting stitches. Stitch along the seam line (between the two basting stitches) and remove the pins as you go along.

The Zigzag Stitch

The zigzag stitch method is used when gathering heavier fabrics. This type of stitching can withstand bulkier fabrics being gathered.

Step 1: Sew a zigzag stitch

Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch using the average width. Remember, each sewing machine has a different stitch guide showing different options. Be careful not to catch the thread while stitching.

Step 2: Pull the thread

Secure one end of the thread with a pin. Pull the other end to gather the fabric.

Step 3: Lock the gather

When you’re happy with the gathering, stitch over the zigzag and lock the gathers in place.


Using An Elastic

Using an elastic to gather is for accuracy and precision. A clear elastic is used to measure the fabric being gathered so when it’s done, you get evenly-spaced gathers without ruining the fabric or the thread.

Step 1: Mark the length of the gather

Put a clear elastic over the fabric and mark the length of fabric you want to gather.

Step 2: Sew over the elastic

Put the elastic on fabric and stretch it. Sew over the elastic and the fabric. The elastic should snap back to its original size, drawing the fabric along with it and creating the gather.

Here’s the video from Threads for the full tutorial on how to gather fabric in three easy and genius ways:

There you have it! These three ways on how to gather fabric will ensure whatever kind of fabric you encounter, you’ll have no problem making a gather! Plus, these ways of gathering fabric can answer many different sewing needs. Master these three methods, and you’ll be confident you can take on any sewing project! In this day and age where fashion evolves so rapidly, knowing how to gather fabric in more than one way is one of the best skills you can learn. So, get your sewing kit out and start practicing!


What do you think is the best way to gather fabric? Let us know in the comments below! 

Want to know more ways on how to gather fabric? Check out How To Gather Fabric Using A Sewing Machine!

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1 thoughts on “How to Gather Fabric Using 3 Methods and Their Purpose

  1. violetmoon says:

    I use THREE basting stitches. That way if one breaks it is still viable for the other two. One one quarter inch below the stitching line, one one quarter inch above and one on the line. I have been using this method for over 50 years and it has always worked much better than any other. Yes, it takes a few minutes more, but if one breaks you still have a hearty amount to use!

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