Learning each and every day

My quest to edify myself a bit every day

Day 21 – January 21

Sewing machines come with all sorts of specialty presser feet that are ostensibly for making your sewing life easier. Some are really easy to figure out: straight foot, zigzag foot, satin stitch foot, zipper foot. Others require a manual or at least someone to point you in the right direction: tucker foot, binding foot, ruffler, gathering foot. The gathering foot is one that seems like it should be easy to figure out. But, there is a fine line between success and total failure.

I’ve used a gathering foot before when I made ruffled streamers for DD’s birthday party. That was only 3 months ago. Clearly, I didn’t actually learn how to use the foot because when I used it today, it definitely didn’t work. The idea is that the foot is supposed to bunch the fabric up while you sew. The main problem with this foot is that you can’t really control the amount of gathering, it’s a bit of trial and error to find the correct settings. Getting the correct settings is where I went wrong yesterday. I had the tension set to loose and the stitch length was long. I ended up with a long stitch with horrible tension, and I ended up having to gather the fabric by hand. After a quick internet search, I discovered my mistake: the tension is supposed to be set to the highest possible. Whoops, got that totally wrong. But the good thing is now that I’ve made that mistake, I’m pretty sure that this little piece of info will be in my brain for a good, long time.

So to recap the proper use of a gathering foot:

1. Set your tension as tight as it will go. (You’ll need to experiment on scrap fabric to see how much tension is just right. Too tight and your thread will break.)
2. Set your stitch length as long as it will go. (Again, you’ll need to experiment. A longer stitch length will equal a more gathered fabric.
3. If neither or these methods yield the results you want, try keeping your finger behind the presser foot so that the fabric bunches up behind the foot. When you can’t hold any more fabric, let go and start over again.
4. Press your fabric when you are done. Likely, it will be all crooked and crazy looking. Pressing it into a straight line will help to tame those gathers.

Happy gathering!


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