A lot of people would opt for machine gathering over hand gathering, but both are just as important to know how to do. Hand gathering is the perfect technique to learn when you are using medium to heavy fabric and the use of light-weight fabric is the perfect pair with your sewing machine. Machine gathering is fantastic, quick, but can also be tricky when not patient. With delicate fabric and gathering, the key is to have a new, sharp sewing needle and a piece of test fabric to start. The finish of gathering light weight fabric is elegant and beautiful and is a must to learn.
Before you start you need to check your machine and set up the length of stitch to be the longest it can possibly be. This is so it is easy for you to gather, if the stitch is short in length and the tension of your machine is too tight, this will make gathering very difficult and could lead to your thread snapping whilst gathering.
HOT TIP - With delicate fabric, it is essential to test your machine thread/tension on a scrap piece of fabric in the same weight just incase anything needs to be fixed before you sew.
STEP 1. Thread your machine up with contrast thread, making sure that it is good quality and doesn't snap easily. Pull the thread out from your bobbin and needle so you have excess thread. Place your thread at the back of your machine ready for you to start sewing.
STEP 2. Time to sew your first straight stitch. DO NOT back tack at the start or at the end of the fabric. The thread needs to be accessible for you to gather; not secure into the fabric. Once you get to the end of you fabric put your machine foot up and the needle, pull the thread so you have excess. Cut your fabric loose. Remember that this thread will be removed once sewn to your other pattern pieces. This stitch is like a stay stitch securing your gathering in place.
YOU'RE HALF WAY THERE
STEP 3. Double stitch mirroring your first straight stitch. I have used my machine foot as a guide and for the width in between stitches. Follow the same steps as 1 & 2. The reason for the two stitches is to make it more stable to gather. Using only one can lead to your thread snapping.
Your stitched should look like this
STEP 4. Seperate the top thread from the bottom thread. To make it easier use your a sewing needle to help seperate them. Only you either the top or the bottom threads to pull.
STEP 5. Time to start gathering. Your fabric will start to gather. Make sure you are being very delicate and taking your time. You don't want your thread snapping or you'll have to start again. Gather along, creating the right width of gathering you need. Use your fingers to even the gather along the thread, until it is perfect.
If you want to watch 'How to Gather by Machine' in a step-by-step visual tutorial, click the link below and I will show you how its done .