Monday, November 19, 2012

Sureau Sew-along: A Few Tips on Gathering

We're finally in my favorite part of the sew-along: the construction! If you're curious to see how my pattern adjustments went, I uploaded a photo on Flickr which I hope might be useful to someone.
I also edited the post on fixing the shoulder line adding the link to a great tutorial I used to eliminate a gaping neckline, so if you still have that problem, go check it out.

We're starting with what is literally the central element of this dress, the gathers. They're very quick and easy to sew, they just need a little attention.

First of all, you will need to set your machine to a higher stitch length than usual. I usually set it between 3 and 5mm. The stiffer the fabric, the longer stitch you'll need to use, and viceversa (shorter stitches give more even gathers).
If your fabric is more on the bulky side, you might also want to lower the thread tension.

Now stitch two parallel lines between the marks, close to the edge of the fabric, leaving long thread tails at the beginning and at the end. If your fabric is particularly unruly, you may stitch a third row for more stability.

While holding the thread tails on one side, pull them gently on the other and you'll see the fabric starting to gather. When the gathered part is equal in length to the piece you need to stitch it to (in our case, the button placket), either knot the thread tails or wrap them around a pin.

Distribute your gathers as evenly as possible, then pin your pieces together.
Stitch them with the gathered side facing up, easing the fabric under the foot with both your hands. This should help avoiding any accident and give you beautiful gathers.

A great tip from Eléonore is to sew your bust gathers always in the same direction (meaning either going down or up for both pieces) to get a mirror effect which will look more professional.

A little bonus on the button placket: if you want a cleaner finish on the inside, cut a second button placket, stitch it on the wrong side of the garment on one side. Press the seam allowance on the other side and secure it using a few hand stitches. This way, you will cover the seam allowances of the center bodice!
I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of this process, I'll try and upload it on Flickr in the weekend!


  1. Thanks for all of these sewalong tips! I have just finished my muslin and will pop some pictures up tonight.In regards to gathers I now approach them in a bit of a different way. I keep my stitch length short but set my tension to the loosest setting. This way I have oodles of little gathers rather then bigger ones :)

  2. Thanks for the tips on gathers! I didn't know that shorter stitches made more even gathers, or that stiffer fabric would need longer stitches. You have a wealth of knowledge!

  3. You learn a lot from experience and gathering threads that snap because you didn't stitch them correctly! :)

  4. That's a great tip, thanks for sharing!