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Video: Three Ways to Gather

Nov 14, 2011

Judith Neukam and Victoria North

Learn three ways to gather fabric in this excerpt from our beginner sewing video series. Teach Yourself to Sew was created with beginners in mind, but sewers of any level can use these tutorials to brush up on their skills. In this episode, Threads Senior Technical Editor Judith Neukam demonstrates a basic method for gathering fabric, using basting thread. You will also learn how to sew a gathered edge to a flat edge, and how to measure and gather fabric using elastic. Pick up your copy of Teach Yourself to Sew – Season 2 to use these new skills in our project How to Make an Apron. You can find more excerpts from this series at, or visit our store to purchase seasons 1 & 2 on sale now. This series would make the perfect holiday gift for any new sewer in your life! Click here to order Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 2 on DVD.

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  1. Tsember November 21st

    The elastic method is great under some circumstances, namely if the gathers are not very dense and the fabric is thin enough. For dense enough gathers in heavy enough fabric, the elastic won't return to its original length; it is permanently stretched by the bulk of the fabric.
    In my experience, this effect is worst for weak knitted elastics, which is not surprising. I have not tried gathering with clear elastic; it is probably better.

  2. fotofashion November 20th

    Before you sew the gathered piece to the straight piece, carefully press the gathers above the lowest gathering line. That will facilitate sewing the two pieces together and avoid pleats that might get sewn into the seam.

  3. sardinecat November 16th

    Yes, I'm going out today and buying clear elastic I've been sewing for at least 50 years (that hurts to write!) and I still learn new things and get reminders of old sewing ideas whenever I log on to Threads. Keep those sewing lessons coming!

  4. User avater mercystreet November 16th

    I had know idea that there was a clear elastic! Dohhhh...that's a problem solver right there!

  5. jansquires November 15th

    Excellent video for all levels of sewing. Thank you!
    Will try the elastic method tomorrow on our charity sewing.

  6. leeny November 15th

    I use the second method all of the time, but use a piece of string or thin yarn placed just above and touching the stitching line. After pulling up the yarn, baste the gathers in place on the lower edge of the zigzags with a zipper foot and then pull out the string. I have never used the elastic method, but it looks like it may be the quickest of all, next time I'll try that one.

  7. Moonbeams November 15th

    I always forget about the elastic method. Joanne's, here I come!

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