Fabric Gathering Hack


My daughter loves gathered clothes. When left on her own to pick out an item for me to make her she inevitably picks one that features large sections of fabric gathered tightly. Sometimes it feels like miles of gathering.

The traditional method of gathering involves sewing a loose basting stitch, and then pulling the bobbin thread to the desired fullness. The problem with this method is inevitable the thread breaks. Then, the sewist is left hand arranging the gathering to the right fullness or trying another basting stitch. It sucks. I hate it.

I read about gathering with crochet thread somewhere. I’ve used it exclusively on five projects now, and I am happy to pass it along to anyone that might have need of a less frustrating way to gather fabric.

First, set the sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. Set the stitch width to wide and the stitch length to long. The width will need to be within the stitch allowance of the project. Make sure that your stitches are close the edge of your fabric. Lay the crochet thread in what would be the center of the zig-zag.

The crochet thread should be placed where it will be captured in between the zig-zags.

The crochet thread in the center allows the thread to be captured by the zig-zags.

When finished with the zig-zag stitch, the fabric will slide easily along the crochet thread making it easy to not only gather but attain even fullness along the length of the gather. Once the gathered fabric is attached to its partner fabric, the crochet thread can be removed.


Slide the fabric along the crochet thread to the desired fullness.

Slide the fabric along the crochet thread to the desired fullness.

I vary this technique based on the type of fabric I use, and the length of what needs to be gathered. For example, on my daughter’s satin steampunk skirt I used a zig-zag stitch to create a tube around the crochet thread. This gave a finished look to the tops of the tiers. It also held the tight gather required on the project in place to make pinning and sewing easy. On a gypsy skirt, I broke the crochet thread sections into easier to manage regions due to the length of the fabric that needed to be gathered. One stretch was nine feet long!

Hope this helps someone out there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s