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How To Sew Gathers In Clothing Instructions

Updated on January 19, 2013

The Making Of Basic Gathers

Basic gathers are made to control the fabric fullness, so that it can fit and give shape to the wearer. A simple step is that a thread which has been stitched on the fabric is pulled up to create small pleats or tucks. Gathers are also sewn in clothes to create a decorative effect.

It is advisable to seam and press the piece of fabric to be gathered before you begin to sew. You can sew gathers in cuffs, necklines, waistlines, sleeve caps or yokes. What you do is that, on a long piece of fabric, stitch two lines which you can then pull at each end to form the gathers.

The gathered piece is then tacked and stitched to a shorter fabric's length. Make sure the stitch length is longer than the ordinary sewing stitches. You should always practice with spare fabric to see which stitch length will gather best.

You can use either a shorter or longer stitches. Using a shorter stitch, gives more control when you start to adjust the gathers, and a longer stitch makes it easier to draw up the stitches and form gathers on the fabric.

To make it more easy to sew gathers in clothes, loosen the upper thread tension before you start to stitch. It is the bobbin stitch that you will pull up to create the gathers, so looser tension makes it very easy to pull the stitches. You can use a different thread color in the bobbin to help differentiate it from the upper thread color.


How To Make Gathers | Fitting Gathers In Clothes

  • You will have to first set the stitches length on your sewing machine to the longest straight stitch.
  • You will need two parallel stitch lines near the top edge of where you want to gather. One should be stitched from the raw edge on the right-hand side of the fabric. Before you sew the second line, loosen the upper tension on the sewing machine, make the length of the stitch to be longer, and stitch it about 6mm away from the first line.
  • To create gathers along the length of the fabric, pull both the bobbin threads at the end of the same direction. Make sure you slide the fabric along the thread to create gathers.
  • Secure the bobbin thread by turning the thread in a figure 8 twist around the pin
  • From the other end of the fabric, pull the bobbin threads to gather the other half
  • To fit the gathers in cuffs, waistlines, necklines and others, pin and sew the gathered side up, just outside of the gathering lines to the fabric you want to join with.
  • Remove the gathering stitches and press with point of iron into the gathers
  • Avoid pressing across gathers as this will make the gathers to lie flat


Shirring is a type of gathering that uses sewing machine to stitch across the fabric. To make a nice looking shirred clothe, you should use elastic thread on the bobbin, this makes the fabric area that is stitched to stretch. You should use cotton as the upper thread. You can also use normal thread on the bobbin for shirring, all you have to do is pull up the thread at the ends to gather.

How To Gather Clothes Video Tutorial


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    • bizwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Christabel Evans 

      9 years ago from England, UK

      It's a pleasure to know that you love this gather tutorial. Thank you for your visit, reading and comment.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Good tutorial for those wanting to learn to sew gathers. Including the best ironing techniques is helpful.


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