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Topic: how do you ladies gather?  (Read 5951 times)
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« on: April 05, 2007 02:27:33 PM »

Hi, What techniques do you use to gather your skirts and ruffles?  its killing me, do i need to get a special foot for my machine or is there a special/secret way you would like to share with me? Thanks
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2007 02:54:30 PM »

Golly. I thought you were going to ask me about the Craftster Coven Grin

Gathering FABRIC. Couple of ways. Set your machine to the longest possible stitch. Put a different contrasting color thread in your bobbin -- and make sure the bobbin is filled.

Stitch about 5/8th inch from the seam edge. Swing the thread ends out of the way. Stitch again about 1/4 inch from the seam edge.

Replace your regular bobbin.

Pull the contrasting threads gently from each end. Sew seam.

OR, if you've got heavy fabric, zig-zag big stitches over crochet thread, then pull the crochet thread.

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2007 03:34:44 PM »

I do the above but don't bother w/changing the bobbin.  I do the basting w/RS of fabric up so I know the bottom is the bobbin thread.  Sometimes I only do 1 row of basting, but it looks nicer I think when you do 2.

You can get a ruffler foot. I have one but have never used it.  Not trying to be mean or anything but I'm not sure why it would be so difficult.   Huh  I mean, it's just pulling thread...Are you not using the longest stitch length possible?  You have to have long stitches to pull the bobbin thread easily. 

Or are you doing really long ruffles or really full skirts?  If so, you can also break the threads at several locations around the ruffle or skirt.  Sew w/a basting stitch for 12 inches or so, then stop, cut the threads leaving long tails.  Pull tails out of the way and then close to the last stitch, start basting again.  Repeat several times around the piece.  Then you can gather sections rather than the entire piece at once.  When I do it that way, I usually stick a pin right next to the pulled threads and wrap the threads around the pin.  It will keep the gathers from falling out while you gather the next section.

« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2007 04:47:18 PM »

For someone completely new to this sewing lark. I found your explanation to be double dutch. Guess I better get the sewing machine out and try and translate it. Grin

« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2007 07:03:55 PM »

Sorry!  When you baste, you use really long stitches.  Basting is very easy to remove, so you can use it when you want to temporarily attach pieces to check for fit...or if you are unsure how to put something together you can baste first so if you make a mistake it's easy to start over.  You need to sew over it w/a shorter stitch in order for the garment to hold together long term.

You also use basting to gather a long piece of fabric to make a skirt on a dress, a ruffle, a pouf sleeve, etc.  Because the thread isn't as "tight" as with smaller stitches, you can grab the bobbin/bottom thread and pull it.  The top thread stays in place but since you are pulling on the bottom, the fabric scrunches up.  You can pull the top too and it will gather but directions will always tell you to pull the bobbin...I'm sure there is a reason that it became the standard but I have no idea why LOL!

So somewhere on your machine will be a knob or button to set stitch length.  Some will show stitches per inch others will be a number from 0-5 or something like that.  0 means that the feed dogs (the part that moves the fabric under the needle) will not move at all.  The bigger the number gets, the farther the feed dogs will push the fabric before the needle comes back down into the fabric and the longer your stitches will be.  For basting or gathering, set your machine at the biggest number/longest stitch.  If you are unsure, check your manual.

OK, so once your machine is set, sew a basting stitch at 5/8" (sorry don't know the metric equivalent if you need it; whatever the standard seam allowance is in metric!) from the cut edge of your fabric.  The suggestion to change your bobbin to a different color is so you know which thread to pull when it comes time to gather.  Don't back tack at the start & end like you normally do to hold the thread in place.  Just sew from top to bottom.  Leave long tails of thread at start & end; since you will be pulling on the thread, you don't want to accidentally pull it right out of the stitches because then it won't gather (it will be plain fabric w/stitches unravelled).  If you repeat this process by sewing just inside the first line of basting (about 1/4"), you get nicer gathers.

Now you can gently pull on the bobbin threads on either side of your fabric piece.  The fabric will gently pucker.  Pull carefully and gently distribute the gathers along the piece so it's evenly distributed.  You don't want part really scrunched up and part completely flat.  I usually gather a bit smaller than whatever I will be pinning the gathered piece to...so for example if it's a ruffle for a skirt, I gather it a little narrower than the skirt bottom.  Then as I pin (usually you pin seams of ruffle to seams of skirt and notches or dots at center of ruffle & skirt pieces), I let out some of the gathering so the ruffle is as wide as the skirt. 

When you sew the gathered piece onto the flat piece, you need to be sure you move your machine to a smaller stitch length again.  Unless you are nervous that you can't sew the ruffle on properly (if it's really full, that can be an issue for me) you don't want to baste it on.  You'll sew w/a medium-short stitch at 5/8" seam allowance.  When you are done, go back and look at the seam from the right side (RS).  If you can see basting (it will be long stitches), you can use your seam ripper to remove them.  It makes your work look neater.   Smiley 

What I was getting at w/the rest of my post was that if you have a really huge piece of fabric to gather, you can be pulling and pulling and pulling on thread.  It can be difficult to make the fabric actually gather.  Instead of sewing 2 lines of basting right next to each other, I was saying you can break it up in to several shorter segements of basting.  You'll still have 2 rows of parallel basting stitches along the seam allowance.  But after you've sewn a good chunk and before you have reached the end, stop, pull everything out from under the presser foot and make long tails of thread.  Cut the thread, put the fabric back in and about where you stopped, start basting again.  Don't sew over the basting you already did or you won't be able to pull the threads.  Don't leave a big gap or the fabric won't gather in that location and you'll have a flat area that will look goofy.  Keep making shorter sections of basting stitches until you reach the end.  There is probably a standard length suggested to easily gather, but after awhile you get a feel for how much/how long you can do w/o pulling your hair out trying to get everything gathered up.

Oh one other thing, I never do a full 5/8" on my first line of basting.  I find if I do a scant 5/8", then I can take the full 5/8" when I sew the ruffle (or whatever) on and won't have to pull out the basting because none of it will show.  If I cut it closer to 5/8" the basting will show in patches because I"m not that accurate.   Roll Eyes

Better or just more confusing?   Kiss 
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2007 02:23:14 AM »

Great, clear and easy to follow advice.  I'm glad I don't need to buy another machine foot, nearly needlessly seduced by Singer again!!!

My longest stitch does not seem long enough, or maybe that is my Patience? Tried it with the single row, but off to try with a double row. 

many thanks again you ladies of the crafster coven Grin Grin Grin LOL
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2007 03:40:49 AM »

I really like Onemoreseam's explanation. It makes sense to me. It is hard to put something like that into words for me.
I thought I'd add that after using really long machine stitches to make a double row and pulling the threads to gather, I always get out a needle and thread to sew the bunched up gathered section to the flat bit. I find it is necessesary with curvy bits like a capped sleeve joining on to a bodice. So I sew (baste?) by hand with straight bits too, like sewing a skirt onto a bodice for a dress. I use really big stitches so it doesn't take too much time, and use any colour thread. Then I take the stitches out later.

And here's something weird: no-one ever told me to only pull the bobbin thread when gathering. So all this time I've just been yanking any old thread: top, bottom, both at once.... Seems to work ok! At least it's never broken.

« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2007 05:19:24 AM »

Thanks Onemoreseam for the beautiful clear explanation. I understood it all. Cool

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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2007 05:27:49 AM »

hey  this  has  been  very  informative!  thanks!  I  was  never  told  pull the  bobbin thread  eitehr I was  taught  only  one  baste  line (why 2)   and  to  pull  which ever  thread  pulls  easiest...a nd  tho  gather adn  slide teh  material  as  far  as  possible t ehn  go  from teh  other  side.....  workign teh  2  sides  to  each  other... I  have  used the  pin  and  wrap teh  thread  once  too....stuck  myself  way to many  times....

but  this  has  been  helpful I  could  change the  way I  do  things....mmmm

thanks  onemoreseam

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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2007 06:38:41 AM »

I'm glad you all found it helpful.  I never know if I'm belaboring the point or if it's not enough detail.   Roll Eyes  Have always been around ladies who speak sewing lingo.  Always happy to clarify.

My longest stitch does not seem long enough, or maybe that is my Patience? Tried it with the single row, but off to try with a double row. 

Hmmm.... do you have a "fancy" machine?  Maybe check your manual to see if there is a special setting to make it do basting?  Or maybe your tension is off somewhere making it too hard to pull?  Not sure but I have always found gathering to be the easy part... sewing it onto the flat part is more challenging.  You have to make sure that it gets sewn on w/o pleating.  That's why w/a really full skirt I often baste it on before sewing the final seam.  Then if anything gets pleated (looks like sharp creases instead of nice soft gathers) I can easily open up that part of the seam, adjust the gathers & try again.

Anyhoo... you can hand baste if the machine isn't working for you.  You just do a long running stitch (down through top, up through bottom, down-up-down-up...) by hand but follow the rest of the general directions.  You'll only have one thread to choose from when you go to pull but it should still gather up.  With this method I find I start out OK but then get sick of hand sewing so start making the stitches way too long to get it over with.  Then the gathers end up not being uniform and the last part I basted doesn't gather up as nicely as the first part.  So be more contientious than I am!  Tongue LOL!

Good luck!  I will chant an incantation for you when I dance around the fire tonight.   Wink
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