Gathering is a sewing technique used for shortening the length of a strip of fabric. The longer piece can be attached to a shorter piece. It is commonly used in clothing to manage fullness. Gathering is used when a full sleeve as attached to the armscye or a cuff of a shirt, or when a shirt is attached to a bodice.
There are several ways to gather fabric:
Gathering using straight stitches
Gathering using straight stitches is the easiest and most common method of gathering, it uses straight stitches on light to mid weight fabric.
Take the fabric that is to be gathered, sew two parallel lines of stitching about 3mm to each side of the seam line. Leave a thread tail that can be pulled and do not secure the stitching at the start or end.
Gather the fabric to the desired width by pulling on the bobbin thread and both right and left knot ends.
Spread the gathers evenly across the width of the fabric. Attach the gathered fabric piece where appropriate and then remove the gathering stitches.
Gathering using couched thread
Use a wide zigzag stitch to sew over (or ”couch”) a length of crochet thread or pearl cotton within the seam allowance(fabric wrong side up). For this step you may use a ribbon foot, if available. The couched thread should be centered under the presser foot, and the zigzag stitching must not pierce it, since that would prevent its ability to gather the fabric.
Leave tails of about 6 cm at each end of both the couched thread and the sewing threads. Tie all the threads together on one side . Pull on the couched thread until the fabric is gathered to the desire width. The fabric edge near the gathering is always better when finished beforehand
Gathering with elastic thread
Slowly wind a bobbin with elastic thread by hand. Be careful and not to pull or stretch the thread as you wind.
Place the bobbin in the bobbin case as always. Place the bobbin case in your machine.
Put the presser foot down, and start sewing across your fabric.
Gathering with a shirring foot
The foot creates gathers through uneven feeding of the fabric, and simultaneously gather a strip of fabric while attaching it onto another.
Finish the strip of fabric to be gathered with a narrow hem beforehand.
Happy Sewing !