I’ve only ever gathered one or two times in my sewing life and both occasions were miserable. The instructions I used said to sew 2 basting lines and pull the threads. So that’s what I did. But my thread kept breaking … and breaking … and breaking… and driving me nuts! For the chemisette handbag, I remembered a gathering technique I learned when I got my new sewing machine. It’s much more fun and here’s what you do:
1) Take your fabric and sew a zig-zag stitch along the edge to be gathered using a 1/4″ seam. I set the length as long as it can go and keep the width at default.
2) Thread an embroidery needle (dull tip, large eye) with thick thread (I’m using crochet thread). Using the needle, thread the yarn under the stitches…
…all the way to the end of where you want the gathering to stop. In this example, I’m gathering across the length of the fabric. Tie a knot in the thread at the beginning.
3) Pull the yarn, gathering the fabric to desired width. Tie off at the end to keep the gathers from coming out.
4) Distribute the gathers evenly,
then stitch across the gathers with a 1/4″ seam to keep them in place (not shown). Remove the thick thread if you desire. If you want to remove the thread, then be careful to not sew through it when stitching across the gathers. Now this piece of fabric is ready to be sewn into your project!
NOTE: If you have a couching foot, steps 1 and 2 can be done in one step. Neat, huh? There is a hole in the presser foot that the yarn can thread through. Below is Bernina foot #6.
You can play around with the stitch length and width to see what suits your project best. I’ve found that keeping either the stitch width or stitch length small helps the gathers stay in place when trying to evenly distribute the fabric. Also, it shouldn’t matter if you put the thread through on the right or wrong side of the fabric because it should all be within the seam allowance, and therefore won’t show up after the project is done.
Here’s a peak at an unfinished purse.