Sewing Tutorial: Gathering Fabric

This time of year always seems to make me want to pull out my sewing machine and make something. I have a few things floating around in my head that I'd like to make soon. A common step in sewing is gathering fabric. Thanks to a good friend of mine I learned how to do this very easily several years ago. I thought I'd post this tutorial for anyone out there who may be doing a little fall sewing. Maybe it will help!

The traditional method of gathering fabric has you sew a large strait basting stitch across the fabric and then pull the bobbin side to gather in the fabric. What would always happen to me is the bobbin threads would break or the task was just painfully time consuming. 

I learned this trick a few years ago from a friend of mine.

You will need some cotton crochet thread:

Set your sewing machine to a large size zig-zag setting with a long stitch length.


Set your presser food on the very edge of the fabric and put the crochet thread between the feet of the presser foot.

Now slowly begin to sew a zig-zag stitch with the cotton crochet thread in the center of the stitch. This is what it will look like:

If you are gathering something large then it will be helpful to do the gathering in 2 places. For the skirts we have used the side seams as the start and stop points.

Then pin your fabric to the piece that you are attaching the gathered edge to. I like to pin side seams together and then center seams together. 

Now carefully begin to pull the crochet thread and gather the fabric up to the correct size. 

Secure the end of the crochet thread to a pin in a figure 8 to hold it. 

Continue to do pull the crochet thread and gather the whole piece of fabric. 

Now pin everything in place.

Now smooth out the fabric and sew a 5/8" seam all the way around.


Remove your pins. You can easily now remove the crochet thread by finding the end and pulling it out. The only evidence left behind is the zig-zag stitching which you can also remove with a seam ripper if you would like, but I rarely do this.

Turn right side out, iron and Voila!! You are done!

I hope this helps some beginning sewing lady out there!! ~smile~



  1. Only the last two pictures of your tutorial came through. I hate gathering fabric. I think I understand what your talking about, but it would be nice to visualize it as well. Probably my computer. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Is it just me that only 2 of the pictures came through?

  3. oopss.. looks like you both are right.. I'll get that fixed today!! So sorry!!

  4. All fixed now!! Thanks for letting me know!! :)


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