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Gathering is simply bunching up one edge of our fabric to make it fit another, usually shorter, edge.  When we need to make a gathered skirt fit a waistband, for example, or a puffed sleeve fit an armhole, we gather. 

Now, there are several different opinions on the best way to gather.  There are those who swear that lengthening out the stitch and pulling the bobbin thread is the way to go.  There are some who say no no, only loosen the tension and leave the stitch length alone. 

I have tried both, and, being a born rebel, use a hybrid approach. 

I lengthen the stitch slightly, and loosen the tension pretty decently.  A purist I am not. 

I want you to know what we mean when, in the course of one of our projects, we say "run two rows of gathering threads".  It's just this:  to put two rows of gathering threads along an edge of a pattern piece, loosen the tension on your sewing machine to 1 or so, lengthen out the stitch a bit, and sew one row just outside your seamline.  Then do it again, halfway between the first row and the edge. 

If this is a piece that needs to fit another piece, such as a sleeve going into an armhole, pin the gonna-be-gathered piece in place, right side facing its new home, and pull the bobbin threads to gather that puppy, like so:

It helps to place a pin right at the end of your gathering rows there so you can wrap all that pulled-up thread around it and keep your gathers in place until you've sewn them down. 

That is all.  Go forth and gather. 


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