Sewing Tips & Tricks: Gathering

Monday, February 23, 2015

Today, we are starting a new series on the blog giving a few of our Tips and Tricks for sewing. These posts may include everything from gathering to embroidery. In fact, we would love to hear from you about any techniques you would like us to shed some light on!

   Gather: to draw (cloth) up on a thread in fine folds or puckers by means of even stitches.

The following steps guide you through the process of attaching a gathered piece of fabric to a flat piece of fabric. In this case, I am attaching a gathered skirt to a waist band. This process would be the same for attaching a gathered skirt to a bodice or a ruffle to the bottom of a dress.

First, mark or notch the center front and back of the skirt pieces and the waistband or bodice. You will use the center markings and the side seams as guides to help distribute the gathers.

Using the longest length stitch on your machine, sew two rows of basting stitches around the fabric to be gathered (the skirt). Sew one row 1/4" above the seam allowance, and one row 1/4" below the seam allowance. This way, when you sew the skirt to the bodice or waistband, you will sew down the middle of the basting stitches. I also overlap the basted rows at the beginning and end. Do not backstitch at the beginning or end, and leave tails of the threads to pull.

Begin to gather the fabric by pulling the two bobbin threads on the same side of the basted rows at the same time. Pull half of the gathers from the beginning of the basting rows and half of the gathers from the end of the basting rows. Continue pulling the bobbin threads and adjusting the gathers until the skirt width is roughly the same as the waistband or bodice width.

Pin the skirt to the waistband with right sides together at the side seams and at the center points you marked earlier. Adjust the gathers as needed between these points. You can secure the basting threads by wrapping them in a figure 8 around the pin.

Once adjusted, pin the rest of the way around the waistband or bodice. The more pins you use, the more likely your gathers will stay in place as you sew.

Sew the skirt to the waistband or bodice at the seam allowance. Go slow and make sure the gathers stay even.

Finish the seam with a serger or zig-zag stitch.

Remove the visible gathering stitch.

Refer to your pattern for pressing the seam allowance and topstitching.

For this tutorial, I used the Modkid Katie Skirt pattern without the pockets and flounce.

A few more patterns to apply this method would be the Wrap Skirt, Avery Dress, Olivia Dress and many more!


  1. Anonymous3:16 PM

    Wow, that is an awesome skirt! I am glad you have pictures for each step. Without them, I would have been unable to figure out what was happening. I am so bad without visuals.

  2. Anonymous12:56 AM

    this is so nice read this so nice posts best sewing guide

  3. You are so generous with your talent. I thank you very much. I saw you on the Nancy Zeimen show and got hooked on sewing for my granddaughters. You have given me confidence.

    1. Thank you, Barbara! That's great to hear!


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