How to Sew a Gathering Stitch

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Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine

  • Thread

Add fullness without fuss to garments with a gathering stitch.
Image Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Ruffles on dresses and curtains, and fullness in sleeves and skirts -- they all begin with a gathering stitch. While the flounces may look complicated, making the stitch is a simple procedure.


Step 1

Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to the longest setting.

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Step 2

Sew a straight line 1/4 inch from the fabric edge to be gathered, leaving a 2-inch tail at each end. Do not backstitch at either end.

Step 3

Stitch a second row 1/2 inch from the fabric edge, again leaving the tail. Take care to avoid crossing the first line and to keep the lines as parallel as possible.

Step 4

Tie the 1/4-inch line tails together at one end. Do the same for the tails from the 1/2-inch stitch line.


Step 5

Pull the threads from the other end gently to draw up the fabric.

Step 6

Distribute the gathers evenly along the stitch lines.


If the piece of fabric is especially long, don’t tie the tails at either end. Draw up the threads from one end to gather the fabric about halfway across, then turn it and gather the remainder from the other end.

Use a single strand of thread and 1/2-inch long stitches to prepare the stitching lines to gather fabric without a sewing machine.


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