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Sewing Tutorial: Gathers

Updated: Feb 22, 2020

Gathers are a common feature in children’s wear, especially girls’ wear. You can find it in skirts, sleeves, yoked shirts etc. If you do not own a gathering foot (like me), gathering can be quite a hassle. On top of that, it’s rather disappointing to not get pretty gathers after all that trouble. Here’s a quick tutorial on how we do it (sans gathering foot!)


I’ve made marking on the fabric; since this is a sample, i’ve gone ahead and used pen. Please do NOT do that for your project! Use chalk or removable ink pen to make any markings on your project.


If you are using a commercial pattern, the portion of the garment that requires gathering is usually indicated by a curvy squiggly line spanning two notches. You have to mark these two notches / markings on your fabric when you cut your pattern pieces.

It is also helpful to know where your sewing line is. You can always chalk this line on the wrong side of the fabric. This line will help to position the two rows of running stitches; ideally one row should be above the sewing line and the other below it. It’s not rocket science here, as long as the 2 rows of running stitches do not cross each other, you will still be able to gather the fabric properly.


Before you start sewing the running stitches, make sure there’s a tail of thread from the needle as well as the bobbin. Have the tail to a length of about 10 – 15cm. This will allow you to pull later on.

Also, make sure the stitch length is set to the longest (it’s usually No. 4, although i’ve seen No. 5 on Brother machines).


Now you are ready to sew the first row of running stitches above the sewing line. Start from one notch and end at the other.

You can see that the fabric is starting to gather due to the first row of running stitches.


You can see the gathers are appearing. They may not appear even, do NOT worry! We will sort that out in a while.

When the gathers appear at the half way point, change to the other end and pull the threads there to gather the other side.

Measure and make sure you have gathered sufficiently to achieve the final desired length.


This will stop the gathers from releasing.

Repeat this for the other end.


Now that the length is fixed, we come and re-arrange the gathers to make them look pretty. You do have to worry about the length changing as you arrange since the gathering threads have been secured!

Give a light press and you are ready to attach this to the next part of your sewing project!

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Your "Gathers" tutorial is so useful and easy to understand! Thank you so much!!

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