Gathering fabric is a useful skill, especially if you love ruffles as much as we do! Modern sewing machines have made it pretty easy for us to gather ruffles, whether we have a basic sewing machine or a super fancy serger with a ruffle foot. Whichever method you normally use (or maybe you are just learning) I think it's a good idea for us all to know how to gather by hand as well. You never know when we might be stuck on a desert island with yards of ruffles to gather and no sewing machine in sight...
Or more realistically for me, when I decide to layer three THICK ruffles and then realize I can't gather them all at once without breaking the threads. Oops.
It has worked for me before but not this time. Those layers would NOT BUDGE. I don't have a super heavy duty ruffle foot (if those even exist) but luckily I do know how to gather by hand and it is actually MUCH faster than you might think. So I grabbed my camera (of course) and turned my "problem" into a hand-gathering tutorial. Are you ready to learn? Some people actually prefer to gather by hand because the ruffles come out precisely even. This also works for gathering a skirt to sew onto a bodice. Here's how I gather by hand when I need to:
If you are using more than one layer like I did, sew a basting stitch along the top edge to keep the layers together.
Place the skirt inside the un-gathered ruffle, with right sides together. In the picture, my skirt is denim on the inside and my ruffle is polka dots. Lay the skirt so its side seams are on the sides, as shown above. With one hand, find the center of the ruffle and pinch it.
With your second hand, find the center of the skirt and pinch it.
Bring the two pinched edges together and pin them to each other at that place. Our center points are now pinned.
Now we will ignore one half of the skirt and focus on the other half. Looking the section between the side edge and the pin we just marked, find the center of that section on the ruffle and pinch it. Find the center of the skirt and pinch it.
Again, bring the two pinched edges together and pin them in place. Our left half is now divided into halves again.
We will now divide each of those halves in half again by finding the center point on the ruffle and the center point on the skirt edge and bringing them together. Repeat with all sections of the skirt, dividing in half over and over again until you are left with very small sections, or "gathers" in between pins.
When you can no longer divide any of the sections in half, you are done gathering! Check all around the skirt edge to make sure you didn't miss any. Then you're all ready to sew the gathered edge in place!
Perfect! I like to topstitch after I attach the skirt or ruffles because it adds a professional finish and helps them lay nicely.
So you're all set! Last week I posted the tutorial for this Upcycled Ruffle Skirt too, if you'd like to know how to make the skirt itself. I could have gathered each ruffle separately but my daughter wanted it less poofy like this. Thank goodness for gathering by hand!
Isn't it great to know that we have the skills to do these things by hand when we need to?
Let's Create! ~ Kristen