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Love Your Gathers - Use The Best Method

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R.Kay Design: Love Your Gathers - Use The Best Method

Monday, December 19, 2011

Love Your Gathers - Use The Best Method

Gathers made with zig-zag over thread method - they are
big and uneven, super hard to control
The other night I was working on the diaper bag I've been sewing and it was time for me to add the side pockets. The side pockets have elastic across the top and the bottom has a gather. This adds a lot of volume to the pocket so the mother can carry baby bottles or tons of stuff.

When I make gathers, I normally use the traditional method of sewing two lines using a long stitch, then pulling the bobbin thread to gather the fabric along the sewn lines. You can find this method explained in my Molly Handbag Pattern, just click the link and sign-up for my mailing list to get a free copy of the pattern with instructions. But getting back on track, I love this method because it makes a beautiful gather and the edge of the fabric doesn't twist around the thread because there are two sewn lines that hold it flat.

Last week I ran across two new methods for gathering fabric. One was especially intriguing to me so I decided to use it on the diaper bag side pockets. For this method, you put your fabric under the zig-zag foot and set your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. You insert your needle into the fabric one time and lift the needle while holding the top thread. Watch carefully and you will see the top thread pull the bobbin thread to the top. Catch that bobbin thread, I used my seam ripper, and pull it to the top through the fabric.

Gathers made with traditional method - makes nice tight even
gathers that are easy to control
Now pull out enough thread, both bobbin and upper thread to go to the end of what you're gathering. Hold the threads so they lay across the fabric where you want to gather, you can twist them a little if you like. Now sew, using a zig-zag stitch over the threads. The zig-zag stitch should sew over the threads, do not let it hit the threads. Using the center of your foot as a guide, hold the thread in the exact middle.

When you get to the end, stop sewing and cut your zig-zag threads but not the threads that are in the middle of your stitching. Remove from the sewing machine and pull the center thread to gather the fabric.

When I first saw this method I really thought it would be a cool way to do all my gathering going forward, but boy was I wrong. I followed the method exactly and it turned out perfectly, exactly like it should. However, the quality of the gather couldn't hold a candle to the traditional two line method. The gathers were uneven and there was no way to adjust them where they would stay. The edge of the fabric curled over the pull threads.

The finished pockets turned out okay as it was a short gather at the bottom of the bag, so I used it. It would have been a nightmare to pull out all that zig-zag! I can't imagine making a ruffle for the Molly Handbag with this method, I'd pull my hair out and it would look so unprofessional. Check the two pics in this post - doesn't the traditional two line method make a much nicer gather? I think so too.

So, needless to say, I do NOT recommend this method for gathering and I will never use it again. I'm just really glad I wasn't gathering a larger section.

Oh, the third method of found was to use clear elastic. I guess it's made of some kind of plastic or rubber. I didn't even know that kind of elastic existed, I'll look for it the next time I go to the fabric store and give it a try. I'll let you know how that turns out too.

Until later ~


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