Gathering the easy way – sewing skills

Cheater Gathering

Hi, I’m Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings. I blog about all things crafty, tasty, pretty and just plain life. I’m a devourer of young adult fiction (love Potter and Divergent), I am married to a super talented musician and I also run a handmade baby and toddler clothing shop on etsy called Rae Gun.  Hopefully you’ll stop by my blog and shop and see some of my latest adventures and maybe share some of your own at my What We Wore and Made Link party.

I am so excited to be apart of Megan’s Summer of Skills. Today I want to share with you a really handy way to gather if you are working with a lot of of fabric or heavy fabric. Most of you who sew probably have been taught to gather by pulling basting stitches. To do it right and save you trouble in case one thread breaks you’re usually told to do two rows of basting stitches and pull. That works like a charm for sleeves and other small pieces but when I’m doing a skirt I find that method to be a pain and I usually end up snapping both threads any ways.

What I do instead is zig zag over a piece of crochet thread and then just pull to gather. Since the crochet thread is thicker you don’t have to worry about it breaking and you have tons of control so you can distribute the gathers much more evenly without worrying that everything will come undone.

First grab yourself some crochet thread. Set your sewing machine to a nice big zig zag I usually do 4 for the length and 5 for the width. What you want is a nice big zig zag that will go over the crochet thread without you having to be too careful.

Then lay the thread where you want the gathers and start to sew making sure not to have the needle touch the crochet thread and making sure you back stitch at the beginning and end. When you reach the end of what you need to gather cut the crochet thread leaving a long tail.

Then pull to gather. Tie or tack down the ends with a pin and distribute the gathers as desired.

I used this on tons of dresses for my nieces as well as for my quick and upcycled tank top dress shown above that has somewhat become my Summer uniform because they are so easy to make and comfy to wear especially when gathering like this. Here are some projects I’ve used this technique with but really anything with a lot of gathering like curtains, clothing, aprons, etc. would be a perfect project for this.

 I hope you’ll swing by and say hi to me at Rae Gun Ramblings and if you try it out I would love to see the results. Megan thanks so much for having me!


  1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this tutorial! Gathering is pretty much my worst nightmare when it comes to sewing, so this makes it seem so much easier =)

  2. this freakin’ brilliant! i HATE gathering. maybe i can finally make myself the sundress i’ve had cut out for months now 🙂 thank you!

  3. What a great idea–thanks for sharing!

  4. That’s awesome Marissa, thanks for the tip!!

  5. Yeah I’m glad you guys like it! Thanks for having me Megan 🙂

  6. I pinned it! Thanks

  7. What an awesome tip!!!!! Thanks Marissa!

  8. Awesome idea! I’m excited to try it.

  9. Thanks for sharing a great idea!!

  10. It looks great on you.

  11. How come I’ve never thought of this before???!!! This is brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing! ~robin~

  12. Thanks so much to whoever reposted this on pinterest. Absolutely brilliant and thanks you so much for sharing. I am currently making baby dresses using onsies (adding a skirt) for my infant great-niece and gathering was a chore. Well, not any more!!!

  13. Carolyn Lewis says

    Great idea thanks for sharing. Will Pin this.

  14. Iris Mccathie says

    What a wonderful world we live in, the friendly and generous sewing friends who freely share their sewing secrets, thanks for the easy gathering tip, I will certainly try it next time I have to gather a garment.

  15. I also found this in Pinterest. Thanks for the clear instructions–I saw this on TV somewhere once but couldn’t quite recall the steps. ADORABLE Mary Poppins outfits, too!

  16. Amazing! Thanks for this tio. Wish I’d have known this when my daughter was making a ruffled shower curtain. Would have made her project easier!

  17. Also can use dental floss as the filler. I watched a TV show where they put the floss through a straw and put the end of the straw in the center of the open sewing foot. The straw kept the floss centered and you could zig zag over the floss without catching it and could then sew much faster.

  18. Great tip! Thank you for sharing it!

  19. I use dental floss, it slides much easier.

  20. This is by far one of the best methods I’ve seen.i was taught to sew a straight line and using a straight stitch. My thread is always breaking and gathering is not even. Using a wide cross stitch and a strong thread made such a huge difference. I already made a skirt and used one of my embroidery designs to embroider a monogram on it. Thank you so much for this awesome tip.

  21. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been sewing 50 years and never thought of this. I would love it if you could post it on Pinterest.

  22. Love this tip- trying it on a drop waist dress made from a t-shirt, since I have a never ending supply of those….

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