ZJ Humbach

How to Gather Fabric When Sewing

ZJ Humbach
Sign in
Duration:   7  mins

In this video, you will learn how to gather fabric for a sewing project. Gathering is a technique that is typically used when making ruffles. ZJ Humbach demonstrates a technique that she uses to make the painful task of gathering a bit easier by using waxed dental floss and a zigzag stitch on her sewing machine.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

Make a comment:
characters remaining

7 Responses to “How to Gather Fabric When Sewing”

  1. Janet Hammond

    Surprised someone of ZJ's calibre did not know to pull the BOBBIN thread, not the top thread - this makes gathering so much easier.

  2. Elaine

    Dental floss is strong but won't gather if you accidentally stitch through it. Fishing line comes in different strengths, you don't have to worry about stitching through it and gathers nicely. When you use the double line of stitching method, gathering is easier if you reduce your thread tension and pull the bobbin threads.

  3. Vanessa Childs

    I like the dental floss method, or any waxed, slippery cord/thread. I had tried the two row long stitches in the past and found it frustrating. When I use the dental floss method I use a Cording Foot and it helps with keeping the floss in place while doing the zigzag stitch. And when doing a gathered shirt this helps me save time and helps with keeping my frustration level down. ;)

  4. sandra

    I agree with Suzanne; the second line is not for backup in case the other one breaks, but to create a flat area between the parallel rows of stitches. If the upper thread tension is released slightly, the bobbin thread can be pulled easily. Also using a stronger thread on the bobbin helps. I use one line inside and the other outside the sew lines; this way the flat area in between is where I stitch the gathered piece to the flat piece. I later remove the gathering stitches that show on the right side. If you don't mind the puckered way one line of stitches create gathers, you can use elastic thread on the bobbin.

  5. Suzanne

    I don't think the way rosemary is gathering is the best. I agree with the 2 rows....but you should gather both rows at the same time by pulling on the both rows of thread at the same time...by doing this you have a flat area between the 2 rows to sew...but the secret is to pull on the 2 bottom threads because they will slide much easier than pulling on the top threads.

  6. Sue

    I use a similar method to the zigzag stitch using crochet thread this can even be re-used !! Also just to point out when using the traditional method with two rows of long stitches it is much easier to pull up if a)you use the bobbin thread to pull on and b) you sew the two rows closer together I use about an eighth inch and that works well over the years I have sewn hundreds of bridesmaid dresses with very full skirts and sometimes several rows of frills on there too! so I think I can say I have practised a bit!

  7. Rosemary King

    Excellent tip with the dental floss.

Get exclusive premium content! Sign up for a membership now!