Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gathering on the Fly

When I posted my how-to for my valentine wreath, I had a comment that some pictures of the gathering process I used would be helpful. There are a LOT of tutorials in the craft blogosphere for gathering fabric (in fact, Disney over at ~Ruffles and Stuff~ just posted about a fantastic one today!). But this is how I do gathers when I'm in a hurry AND it doesn't matter if they're not too consistent. If I'm gathering for aprons, for instance, or throw pillows or ANYTHING where I need the resulting length to be specific, I use a different method. Maybe I'll post a tute for that when I get around to making some throw pillow covers!

But when I'm gathering for something like my wreath project, where I can afford to just wing it, this is the fast-and-dirty method I use for gathering.

First, cut your fabric into strips. Lately I've been favoring this tutorial. Jona wrote it for binding, but I use it for anything that I'll need a long thin strip for. That way I don't have to sew a bunch of strips together. Her tutorial is specifically for a fat quarter, but I've used it for a fat quarter, a half yard, and a half cut vertically from a whole yard. Her instructions are very good with great illustrations, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask me. This is the nearly nine yards of 3-inch-wide fabric I got from my whole yard cut in half vertically (so, essentially a fat half?).

So, once you have your strip of material, pick an end to start with and do a few back stitches. I'm not sure why. My mom just taught me to always start and stop with back stitches. :)

Next, use your fingers on the material on either side of the presser foot to scrunch the fabric in front of the presser foot toward the needle:

Now you can sew three or four (or more) stitches to feed that gathered section through the presser foot.

Now do the next few inches:

This is what it looks like after just those two steps:

Rinse, wash, and repeat. This is what it looks like after you've done a few feet:

Once you get into a rhythm, this is a nice quick way to gather on the fly! Please ask if there's something here that's unclear. I'm new at writing these tutorials, but I want to get better!

Teaser: This is the material for my Valentine-to-St.-Patty's-Day wreath transformation which I will try to post about tomorrow.

*Edited to add that I'm linking to these parties:

The Girl Creative

The DIY Show Off


Tips & Tricks


  1. Thanks, Kelli! It is as easy as I imagined it was, but I wasn't sure. Now I am.

  2. You bet, Les! I'm glad it helped!

  3. Thanks for linking to my party with this great tip for making gathered ruffles. These ruffles could be used in sooo many different applications.

    Hope to see you joining in tonight for the first Time Travel Thursday linky party.

    Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage