Easy gathers

I wish I could say this method was my original idea.  It is not;  I read it about it on several different blogs and seen it in several sewing related books and magazine articles.  It is I think worth repeating and showing because someone may read this and not have tried/heard of it.

After I serged finished all edges of the fabric and began the sewing process for the Emma top, I pulled out some lightweight, gimp thread I have had forever.  I used this mostly to give buttonholes some body when necessary.  This is perfect thread for use on a lightweight fabric like the one  am using for this top.

First you lay the gimp within the seam allowance under the presser foot.
You then select a zigzag stitch.  On my machine, I select a center zigzag stitch and I increase the stitch width to 3.5 and length is on 4.  This worked well because the seam allowance for this pattern is 3/8 inch.  You then stitch over the gimp the length of the area you are going to gather.  Leave a tail of the gimp at the beginning and the end of the stitching.  This tail is what you pull to gather the fabric.
Pull the tail holding the fabric in your other hand and you then can distribute the gathers as you go.  I then pull the tail from the other end so the gathers are between the two ends.

 You can see how the gathers are starting in this photo:
I have a gathering foot for my sewing machine and an actual stitch used to sew gathers, but I never get the right gathers nor control of how the gathers will look.  This is rather easy peasy to do and I like the results.
I used this method on a heavy wool skirt and I used a piece of knitting yarn to do what the gimp does for lightweight fabric.  After all pieces are attached as the pattern calls for, you can then remove the gimp.  For this top, I cut off the tails and left the gimp as it gave the gathers a little more body.


  1. Gathering over a cord is a great method. I have a variation on this theme that works with light to medium weight fabrics.

    1. At the beginning of the areas to be gathered, rotate the hand wheel to pull up the bobbin thread to the top.

    2. Pull the bobbin and top thread out to the length to be gathered plus a little more.

    3. Twist the to threads together slightly.

    4. Zigzag over this thread as you would over the gimp. Pull to distribute the gathers.

  2. Sometimes we have techniques that we think are so ordinary or simple that everybody else surly always know about it. I feel like that on the rare occasions that I post a tutorial, but figure there is always someone out there like me that don't know it yet. Such is the case with your tutorial - I've never even heard of Gimp thread, and I think yours is an amazing technique and will be using it soon. That is if I can find a reasonable substitute for the Gimp thread.

  3. Thanks for sharing the awesome gathering technique. Liking that polka dot fabric too.

  4. What a brilliant idea - just have to figure out what the equivalent of 'Gimp Thread' is here in Australia and then I will be set to use this technique...


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