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Sewing Gathered Fabric

Tips for Sewing Gathered Fabric to Another Fabric Piece

Comparison of Gathering Methods after Sewing

The various gathering methods as explained in previous articles can yield slightly different results that you will want to consider when determining which method to use for your particular project. To illustrate these differences, I have provided photos below along with some comments explaining the differences.

This image shows how the gathers made with a single row of gathering stitches will look when sewn to another fabric. You can see that the gathers have flattened out slightly and in some cases look more like small pleats. This is because, with only one row of gathering stitches, the gathers are difficult to control while sewing and can crush easily. They can also bunch up in spots because they will slide easily along the stitching. Because of this, I typically only use the single row method when I am testing a pattern for fit (a set-in sleeve, for example) or on a simple project where the appearance of the gathers doesn't matter as much (casual doll clothes).
single row gathering method

Sewn gathers made with the double row gathering method are shown in this photo. As you can see, with this gathering method, the gathers are more evenly distributed and lie better on the fabric. This is especially true when you are able to stitch in the middle of the two rows. Having the gathering rows on either side of the seam stabilizes the gathers and helps keep them from folding over like they do when using the single-row method.

The double row gathering method is the method that I primarily use for gathering most types of fabrics.

Note: If you look closely, you can see the holes from the second row of stitching below the seam line. These will almost always press out and disappear, but if you are using a delicate fabric like velvet or silk, be sure to sew all of the gathering rows inside the seam allowance.
double row gathering method

This last photo shows how gathers made with the zigzag stitch gathering method will look when sewn to another fabric. The gathers are very similar in quality to those made with the single row method - they pleat easily and are not as even as those made with the double row method. When using the zigzag method, it is important to pin the fabrics frequently to hold the gathers in place while you are sewing over them.

The zigzag method works best on heavy fabrics that don't gather easily such as upholstry or other home decor fabrics.

I hope this illustration of how the various gathering methods look when sewn will help you choose the gathering method that will work best for your particular project. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the forum.

zigzag gathering method

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