Friday, September 23, 2016

Gathers

Recently I have been thinking about using gathers to add interest to my work. When fabric is gathered it creates folds on the fabric surface. The folds (or hills and valleys) create light and dark areas on plain fabric which add subtle visual interest. On printed fabric the gathers alter the look by hiding tiny sections of the print.
To gather fabric start with a piece of fabric at least twice the length of your finished project. Gathers reduce the length of fabric.
Results of the different gathering methods. For the first 3 samples I started with a 10 in strip and gathered it up to 5 inches. From the top hand gathers, straight stitch machine gather, zigzag stitch machine gather and gathering foot with un-gathered top piece.

Basic ways to Gather
By hand- sew a running stitch on the section you wish to gather, pull the thread to create the desired fullness. Tie off thread ends to hold gathers. Hand gathering works best on small projects.
Machine Gathers- use an all purpose presser foot. Set stitch length to longest stitch. Sew a straight row of stitching on the section to be gathered. Leave thread tails long. Do not back stitch. Pull bobbin thread only to create folds.
Alternatively you can use a zigzag stitch and cord. Place the cord along the section to be gathered and centred under the presser foot. Stay stitch the cord at one end then zigzag stitch down the cord length, encasing it in the stitches but not catching the cord. Pull cord to form gathers.
Gathering foot
Gathering foot- a small and easy to use foot. The gathering foot automatically gathers the fabric as you sew. Select the longest straight stitch setting, place the fabric under the presser foot and sew. That's it, fabric will be gathered evenly. The gathering foot can also be used to gather fabric and attach it to a second piece of un-gathered fabric. Simply place the fabric you do not wish to gather in the slot between the top and bottom of the foot. The challenge here is making sure both fabrics are kept straight. Also for a tighter gather place a finger behind the presser foot. This slows the fabric movement and creates more gathers. A ruffle foot is another attachment that automatically gathers fabric.
Finally other ways to gather fabric are by using elastic and gathering tape. Gathering tape is used in curtain making.

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