Friday, August 8, 2014

Pin gathering technique

There are loads of ways to gather fabric onto flat fabric but years ago, as a students, we were taught this method, often used by tailors to set in suit sleeves with nary a pucker. It has held faithful over the years and I thought you might find it useful as well. It takes a bit longer but the end product is worth the time taken.

As I was working on the last sample for this pattern I photographed the procedure. In this sample the fabric is a light weight cotton and the fabric is gathered between two notches on the curved yoke front.
Run two rows of gathering threads, one and eighth of an inch above the stitching line and one and eighth of an inch below.   
Reduce the tension on the upper thread so you can more easily pull the bobbin thread.
Set the stitch length to 3 (if your normal is 2.5) to give finer control of the gathers.
I sometimes use up ends of coloured threads for contrast - if they won’t mark my fabric with traces of colour. When removed they are thrown away so it won’t matter.
If you are using thread matching your fabric, to avoid pulling the wrong thread and locking the stitching, clip off the tail of the top thread so the bobbin thread is the only one long enough to pull.

Here you see a horizontal view (as you would hold the fabric.)
Now pin your pieces together. Begin by pinning the ends where the gathers will begin and end, then the CF. The 3rd pin from the left is the CF (Sorry, I was in a hurry to photograph this as the camera's battery was running very low!) On the left of CF is the first division of fabric and to the right you see how it progresses.
Fold one side of the yoke and fabric in half matching up the pins to find the centre of this section.
Mark the centre of these portions with pins or finger press a fold into the fabric. (In the photo above, the first pin and second pin are marking the halfway points and pins three and four are the CF and the far end.) 
Match up the first and second pin, re-pin and then repeat to divide each of these portions. Keep dividing and pinning until you had pinned right across the seam and the area has been 'broken down. as much as possible.
Now you can pull up the gathering threads. The fabric is evenly divided and the fabric doesn't have far to go.
Here is a second view from a different angle.
Here you see the progression of steps. Pull up the gathering threads from one end to the middle and even out the gathers between the pins. Repeat for the other half. Pulling up half at a time ensures that the thread won't break or pull out the far end.
Machine stitch with regular stitch length and tension. Do not stitch over your pins - remove them just as you approach each one.

Check the other side to be sure everything is as is should be. Make any repairs now.
Notice how perfectly gathered the fabric is.
Remove the gathering threads and press. Below is the finished sample.

Note: Here is a little tool that would be so easy to recreate. A student gave me this little laying tool many years ago and it has become so handy. It is a short bamboo skewer with a painted bead glued onto the non-pointed end. Something so simple but so handy when it comes to controlling the fine details when dealing with gathers.

Hope you found this helpful and that you will give it a try. It goes faster with practise but takes loads of pins. 

So till next time, keep stitching!!


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