Easy Peasy Gathering

Tuesday’s Tips & Tricks: Easy Peasy Gathering

There are several methods available for gathering fabric. The method we’ll discuss today is gathering with a cord.

Until recently, I’d never used this technique. While writing an article that required an overview of different gathering methods, I finally experimented with using a cord to gather—and was pleasantly surprised at the results. It’s easy to do and it produces astonishingly even gathers. So let’s get started!

You’ll need a ruffle that you want to gather and a cord of some kind. I’ve found that crochet thread works perfectly; use a finer thread for smaller gathers. How much fabric do you need? You’ll want at least double the length of your finished ruffle, or three times the length for a very full ruffle.

Cut your fabric with a half-inch seam allowance and prepare your ruffle with a narrow hem. Alternatively, you can cut your fabric twice the width that you need, then fold it in half lengthwise and press it. This is much faster than hemming countless yards, but gives you a slightly heavier ruffle. Choose based on the type of fabric you’re using and the look you want. If in doubt, make a sample ruffle of each kind and then decide.

Folded or Hemmed

Folded and Hemmed Ruffles

Once your fabric is hemmed, measure out enough crochet thread to match the length of your un-gathered material. Place it about half an inch from the raw edge and leave a short tail at the beginning. Set your machine to a narrow zig-zag stitch and secure the end of the thread by stitching through it several times. Once the end is stitched down, zig-zag over the crochet thread, taking care not to catch the thread in your stitching. Go slowly and carefully. Once you’ve zig-zagged the entire length of the ruffle, backstitch a short distance and trim your machine thread (not the crochet thread!).


Zig-Zagged Thread

Now comes the fun part! Pull the crochet thread, sliding the newly-created gathers to the end that you secured at the beginning. See how tiny and even the gathers are?


Gathered Ruffle

Once your ruffle is the correct length, backstitch over the end of the crochet thread several times to permanently hold it in place. Trim the excess thread, then sew your ruffle to your garment.


Have you used this method of gathering? Which gathering technique is your favorite?

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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4 Responses to Easy Peasy Gathering

  1. Marquita Gallinari says:

    Very interesting entry, I look forward to the next!

  2. wrinkle free skin says:

    Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time :-)

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