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3 Ways to Gather Fabric

Basting stitches, zigzag stitches, and elastic provide alternatives

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Learn several ways to gather fabric. There’s the basic gathering method, gathering with a cord, and gathering with elastic. Garment sewing expert Judith Neukam demonstrates how to gather using each method. She provides tips and tricks along the way. Which method you eventually choose depends on your fabric and your project.

The basic gathering method involves pulling the bobbin threads from two rows of machine basting.

The second method, which is ideal for gathering heavy fabrics, requires a separate cord and zigzag stitching.

A third option for gathering uses a narrow clear elastic, which adds little bulk.

This detailed tutorial is one episode in Season 2 of  the comprehensive Teach Yourself to Sew series.


Teach Yourself to Sew

Judith, the series host, got her first taste of sewing when she took the free lessons that came with her mother’s sewing machine purchase. Judith was 9 at the time. Soon after, she was sewing her own clothes and feeding her passion for the craft. In her Teach Yourself to Sew series, Judith shares her enduring love of sewing and her invaluable years of sewing experience.

Getting started

She starts with discussing the equipment and the essential sewing notions for anyone who sews. You’ll learn about shopping for fabrics, choosing patterns (including selecting the correct size), and planning the perfect pattern layout. From machine-sewing simple seams to inserting zippers and stitching buttonholes, Judith demonstrates the key steps to making a custom garment.

Discover methods for clean-finishing seam allowances and applying facings so all edges are neat. To add shape to garments, Judith explains how and why to sew darts, and how to gather fabric for volume. Other garment elements, such as sleeves, pockets, and elasticized waistbands, are shown in easy-to-follow video tutorials.

Advancing your skills

When you’re ready to challenge yourself further, tune in to Judith’s overview of couture garments and sewing techniques. Even if you never intend to become the next Coco Chanel, you’ll learn methods that add quality to your everyday wardrobe. Find out how to perfectly match stripes, plaids, and prints; baste seams; and insert underlinings and linings.

Finally, Judith shares the basics of pattern fitting and adjustment. Her method begins at the shoulders, ensuring the garment hangs properly. Follow along as Judith shows how to create a shoulder template that you can use again and again to adjust patterns before cutting the fabric. As a bonus, you’ll even learn how to create a custom dress form so you can fit garments on a body that truly represents your true body shape.

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