How to Sew Gathers 2 Different Ways: Parallel & Zigzag Methods

Sara SJ Kim
by Sara SJ Kim
2 Materials
5 Minutes

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you my two most used methods for gathering. These gathering tips have helped me immensely, and I hope you find them helpful too.

Knowing how to gather is a great skill to have in your sewing arsenal, and it will definitely help you progress and become a more advanced sewer.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine

Two parallel stitches

This is the most common method of sewing gathers. While this method is not my favorite, it is the one that I often use especially when making gathers on smaller areas.

I find this method looks more natural and, in my opinion, spreads out more evenly.

How to do a gathering stitch

Step 1 - Use the longest setting (stitch setting 5-6) and sew on the edge. 

Leaving tails of threads for the gathering

Step 2 - Leave tails of threads for gathering. 

Gathering stitch on a sewing machine

Step 3 - Sew another line parallel to the first one.

What is a gathering stitch?

Step 4 - Holding the thread tails, pull to distribute the gathers evenly.

Work from both sides to make more natural gathers.

Step 5 - Tie off the thread tails when the gathered edge reaches the desired length.

Zigzag stitch with cord/yarn

This is my favorite method of sewing a gathering stitch. Use any kind of cord/yarn a bit longer than the length of your fabric and a zigzag stitch.

If you love the gathered look and love efficiency, I highly recommend this method. 

Gathering fabric with a sewing machine

Step 1 - Zigzag stitch the corn/yarn to the edge (zigzag setting 6-7, stitch setting 3-4). Be careful not to sew on the yarn.

Using cord/yarn and a zigzag stitch to gather

Step 2 - Holding the cord/yard, distribute the gathers evenly.

Remove the cord/yarn before finishing the seam.

How to sew gathers

How to sew gathers tutorial

Here we have two pieces of gathered fabric, the top one using the first method and the bottom one using the second method. Each method creates a slightly different gathered finish.

Gathering is a great skill to use and can come in handy when creating lots of different types of clothes.

I hope this short tutorial on how to use the gathering method helps take your garments to the next level.

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine

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