Basic Construction--Gathering and Easing Fabric

Gathering and easing are methods that control fullness along a seam line.

Gathers are soft folds of fabric formed by pulling up basting stitches to make the fabric fit into a smaller space. Easing allows fabric to be shaped over a curved area of the body. It's used when one edge of fabric is slightly longer than the other. Easing should not create any visible folds or gathers.


An area to be gathered is marked on the pat tern with "gather" or "gathering line" on the seam line. Notches or dots mark the beginning and end of the area to be gathered. Usually fabric is gathered into 1/2 or 1/3 of its original width. It takes more yardage to create full gathers in lightweight fabrics than in heavier ones.

How to Gather

Gathers start with two parallel rows of machine basting. Then the bobbin threads are pulled from both ends to draw up the fabric.

Finally the gathered fabric is stitched to the shorter length of fabric.

1. Adjust the stitch length for 6 to 8 stitches per inch (3 to 4 mm in length). Loosen the upper thread tension.

2. Stitch the first row of basting next to the seam line in the seam allowance. Leave the long thread ends. For long areas, start and stop stitching at the seams.

3. Stitch the second row 1/4 inch (6 mm) away in the seam allowance. Leave the long thread ends. See Fgr. 1.

Gathering Stitches 1

4. Pin the fabric edges, right sides together, matching notches, seams, and markings.

5. Pull up both bobbin threads from one end.

Gently slide the fabric along the thread to gather half the section.

Repeat at the other end until the gathered section is the proper length. See Fgr. 2.

6. Wrap the threads in a figure 8 around a pin to secure. See Fgr. 3.

Pulling Up Gathering Stitches 2

Securing Thread 3

7. Distribute the gathers evenly and pin in place about every 1/2" (1.3 cm).

8. Stitch with standard stitching along the seam line, gathered side up. See Fgr. 4. Use your fingers to hold the gathers evenly on both sides of the needle to prevent any folds from catching in the seam.

TIP: Gathering fabric. When gathering fabric by machine, use a contrasting thread color in the bobbin. You'll see which thread to pull more easily.

= = = Techniques = = =


4. Serge along the fabric edge, encasing the chain in stitches.

Don't serge off the fabric at the end. Instead, stop stitching. Raise the needle and presser foot. Turn the hand wheel several times and gently ease the fabric away from the presser foot. Cut the threads. Do not cut the gathering chain.

5. Pull up on the chain to gather the fabric.

To gather lightweight to medium weight fabrics, follow these steps:

1. Adjust the serger for a wide, three-thread stitch.

2. Serge a thread chain for gathering that's at least 6 inches (15 cm) longer than the edge to be gathered. Don't cut the chain. Gently run your fingers along the chain to smooth it out.

3. Raise the presser foot. Bring the chain under the presser foot and around to the front, then up and over the toe of the presser foot to the left of the knife. Lower the presser foot.

= = = = = = = =

Pressing Gathers

To press gathers, follow these steps:

1. Press the seam allowances flat.

2. Lay the garment flat on an ironing board, with the seam allowances turned away from the gathers.

3. Press carefully up into the fullness with the tip of an iron on the wrong side of the fabric.

Hold the seam allowances taut above the gathers to prevent folds from being pressed into the gathers at the seam line.


Shirring is formed by several rows of gathering. Use only on soft or lightweight fabrics. Stitch as many rows of gathering as desired and secure each row with a knot.

Then stitch over the knots in the seam allowance. See Fgr. 5.

Shirring 5

Using elastic thread in the bobbin makes elasticized shirring. Wind elastic thread on the bob bin by hand, stretching slightly. Use a long stitch, 6 to 8 stitches (3 to 4 mm in length) per inch.

Stitch on the right side of the fabric, stretching the previously stitched rows as you sew each new row.

== Wiki Sewing ==

Double or Single Thread

Working with a double threaded needle may seem easier to use than a single threaded needle, but it may not give you desirable results.

Use a single thread whenever you want the stitching to be as invisible as possible and when you want to create as little bulk as possible.

Always keep the thread doubled near the needle and single in the area where the thread is being consumed by sewing. Gently pull the thread through the needle after every few inches of sewing to move the double thread area up toward the needle.

A double thread is used when you want strong, durable stitches.

Sewing on buttons or fasteners is typically done with a double thread. When sewing with a double thread, both ends of the thread are the same length and knotted together.

<<== Wiki Sewing cont. ==>>


Easing is most often used at shoulder seams, sleeves, yokes, and waistbands. The most common eased seam is a set-in sleeve. The finished seam should look smooth, without any gathers or tucks.

Pin Basting

If one fabric edge is only slightly longer than the other, pin baste the right sides of the fabric together, with the longer side on top. Place pins every 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) to keep fullness from shifting. See Fgr. 6. Stitch with the longer side on top and gently ease in extra fullness as you stitch.

Pin Basting 6

Ease Stitching

To ease a greater amount of fullness, use one or two rows of ease stitching. Follow the techniques used for gathering. See Fgr. 7.

1. Stitch close to the seam line with long machine stitches, extending the stitching slightly beyond the markings.

2. Stitch a second row 1/4 inch (6 mm) away in the seam allowance for set-in sleeves.

3. Pin the fabric, right sides together, with the eased side up.

4. Pull up the thread between markings and distribute the fullness evenly.

5. Stitch with standard stitching along the seam line, being careful not to stitch in any folds or gathers.

Ease Stitching 7

PREV: Making Darts NEXT: Sewing Plain Seams Home

Wednesday, 2013-06-05 14:35