“Gathering Know How”

No matter what projects you like to sew, using gathers in material will, at some point, be included in your project.  If you are a garment sewer, you will use gathers most on waistbands, sleeves and for embellishment.  Home décor sewers will use them on projects such as pillows, curtains and dust ruffles.  Quilters will use them for embellishment; to really make their creations pop.  Gathering by hand or by pulling draw strings is always an option for smaller areas, but there is a special presser foot for the sewing machine that can make such quick work of this often tedious task when tackling larger projects.  With a little knowledge, this Gathering foot can be your new best friend!

The Husqvarna Viking Gathering foot
The Pfaff Gathering foot

There are a few tricks to using the Gathering foot to your greatest advantage.  I have included a YouTube video done by Sarah from Heirloom Creations for a complete demonstration.  (Even though the demonstration is on a Husqvarna Viking machine, the same information applies to any machine.)  The first thing you need to remember with this foot is that once you sew the gathers, you will not be able to adjust them.  For this reason, the Gathering foot is best used on larger projects where a lot of gathered fabric is needed in a specific size.  Trying to use this foot to gather the material to fit into a sleeve opening, for example, would simply not be practical.  (If you are really interested in this foot, you may want to check out the September 2nd Facebook Live post by Husqvarna Viking’s Vanessa Dyson on the difference between the Gathering foot and the Ruffler foot.)

You will need to decide how much material it will take to make the amount of gathers you will need.  I usually use a few 10” long pieces of the actual material I will be gathering to test and create all my machine settings.  Since gathers look best when they are two to three times greater than what they are attaching to, you will want to use these 10” test pieces to decide your stitch length and upper thread tension.  I use 10” long pieces of material for my tests simply because it makes the math really easy.  For example, if I gather my 10” long piece of material and, when I’m finished, it is 7” long, I know my machine’s settings are gathering my material by 30%.  I can calculate the amount of material I will need for my gathers based on that information and the size of my project.  Increasing stitch length creates more gathers and decreasing stitch length creates fewer gathers.  Increasing upper thread tension creates more gathers and decreasing the tension creates fewer gathers.  You can use a combination of stitch length and thread tension to create the exact gathered effect you want.  Once you have created all of the machine’s settings for the perfect gathers for your project, don’t forget to save them to your machine’s memory!  I also tend to write down my information so I don’t inadvertently erase my settings in memory by saving over them at a later date (just ask me how that could happen!).

Remember, if you think this accessory might be helpful to you, all machine accessories for Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking machines are on sale for 20% off all during the month of September!  Happy Sewing!

P.S. In last week’s blog I was talking about using the Circular Attachment for quilting purposes. Check out this Pfaff Facebook post from September 11th on using the Attachment for another clever piecing use!