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How to gather fabric: The express technique

Greetings fellow stitchers! A lightning quick post today bringing you a super quick and fuss-free technique for gathering fabric. If you find yourself put off sewing full skirted numbers because the thought of painstakingly hand gathering metres of cotton makes you want to sew your eyelids shut, then we highly recommend you give this method a whirl. Better yet, all you need is a zigzag stitch and some string (or dental floss...)!

Step 1

Select the widest zigzag stitch your machine has to offer. Place your length of string or floss (which needs to be as long as the length you are gathering) about a centimetre and a half from the raw edge of your fabric - this needs to be the edge that you want to gather, for example, a skirt's waistline.

Start to zigzag over the string/floss. Keep going until you reach the end. You'll see that the zigzag stitches form a sort of casing for the string:

*In case you were wondering, the reason we recommend dental floss is that it is very strong and also kinda slippery, making the gathering process an absolute breeze!

Step 2

Keeping ahold of one end of the string/floss, gently gather your fabric by moving it along the length of string. Keep going until you're done gathering and your gathers are nice and evenly spaced.

Ta da! Now that wasn't so painful, was it....?

Comments on this post (7)

  • Jul 17, 2020

    Its a great tip. For even more control maybe consider adding a second row of the same stitching/floss at about 1 cm from the edge. Especially good if using a light fabric.

    — sj

  • Mar 10, 2020

    I was considering purchasing a ruffler, but was put off by the price and the math involved. This is brilliant and will experiment with it soon, as well as using up lots of “almost finished” dental floss lying about.

    — Barbara Kallaur

  • Jun 07, 2019

    Oh! What a great use for the miles of dental floss I have. I was searching Pinterest for this method and came upon this wonderful idea. Exasperated with breaking threads this gives me hope, will try later tonight.

    — C. Gresham

  • May 14, 2018

    Just goes to show you are never to old to learn new tricks, after a sewing career of 53 years I will now look forward to gathering something I have always hated doing.

    — Margaret

  • Jul 20, 2015

    Why did I not know this?
    Years I will never get back! Thanks for sharing

    — Sewing with Kate

  • Jul 18, 2015


    Thank you for sharing this :-)

    — Nedoux

  • Jul 18, 2015

    I’m a serial wonky gatherer. I can’t wait to try this and see if I can finally get nice neat gathers. Thank you!

    — Bec Matthews

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