How To Gather Fabric With Elastic

Gathering fabric stands out as one of the most crucial methods that fall under sewing. This particular stitching method is used on upholstery designs, garments for adding frills or flounce, as well as interior décor. 

But fabric gathering can be a dreaded part of all sewing projects. It’s not because the process is complex, but it’s pretty time-consuming and tiresome. 

So, people who want their fabric gathering work to be less monotonous can turn their heads towards elastic.

Why? It’s because fabric gathering with elastic is a lot easier when compared with other gathering techniques. It will provide you with an even look, and it will save you a lot of time. 

When it comes to gathering materials with elastic, it is pretty simple and easy. It will enable you to get all your sewing-related work done within a given time. Apart from that, it will provide you with some beautiful gatherings as well. Check out this blog for all the information you need. 

How To Gather Fabric With Elastic?

The best way to gather materials with elastic is through the sewing machine. Even though you can do the fabric gathering work with your hands, doing it through the stitching device will be much faster.

Through the sewing machine, you can easily create beautiful skirts and ruffles with no issues. If you want to do the gathering work on woven fabrics, you can use the sewing machine for the job.

 It will help in providing you with gentle gatherings, and the results will be a positive one. Want to know how it’s done? Read further. 

If you think the steps for gathering fabric through elastic are difficult, well, you are wrong. As a First-timer or a beginner, you will not find any issues when following the instructions well. 

So, without wasting any more time, let’s check out the steps. 

Step 1: Gather All The Supplies

You cannot begin your gathering work when you do not possess the right set of supplies or materials for it. Firstly, you will require a clear and wide elastic of ¼ inch or 6mm. 

A 3/8 inch elastic will also work well, but it will not provide the desired results since it’s a lot firmer. That is why it will be much better to stick with the ¼ inch one. 

Step 2: Cut The Elastic

You must cut a piece of elastic for the material’s finished length. For instance, if you have decided to add a skirt or ruffle to the bodice, you must cut the elastic towards the bodice’s circumference. 

After that, you must double-check the length. Don’t forget to stretch the elastic several times before using it. If you want to cut off a bit from the elastic, you are free to do so. 

Step 3: Separate The Waist

Divide or separate your skirt bottom of the ruffle and mark it with a marker. To divide the waist, you can get the job done by folding it. 

Make sure to do the marking carefully and make any mistakes or mark the wrong spot. 

Step 4: Match Up The Mark

Once you have placed the marks, it’s time for you to match up the marks on the elastic with the ones on the material or fabric. The gathering of the material will take place between the marked areas. 

You can pin the marks together if you want. Otherwise, you can keep on stretching the material while you stitch. Also, don’t forget to leave out a ¼ inch of the tail so that you can seize on it. 

Step 5: Begin Sewing Over The Elastic

You can backstitch several times on the first end of the elastic to properly secure it. Also, when doing the sewing work, you can go for the straight stitch or zigzag stitch. 

You need to keep in mind that you have to place the elastic within the seam allowance. Doing so will stop you from unpicking or removing the elastic once you get the work done.

Make sure to stretch the elastic but not the fabric within the markings. After that, you need to sew over the elastic. 

Under this particular step, you also have to leave out 6mm or ¼ inch of the tail. Don’t forget to overlap the ends slightly. 

When you stitch over the elastic, you will notice that it stretches out a bit. This stops the length adjustment to cause any issues or problems from occurring. 

Step 6: Complete The Work

Once the stitching is complete, you are all done with the gathering fabric work. Now, you can use it however you like with no issues. 

Reasons To Use Elastic To Gather Fabric?

One of the biggest reasons to use elastic for gathering material or fabric is its stretchability. When the seam stretches, it will not be that difficult to get. 

Also, opting for the elastic method for gathering material stands out as one of the most traditional ways of fabric gathering. The technique is a lot simpler, and you do not require many materials for the work. 

You can also use elastic for gathering fabric for knit garments. Knit garments do not come with any openings, zippers, or buttons. 

So, to wear them, you can use elastic for gathering the fabric. You can easily wear the knitted garment, and there will be no stitches to pop out. 

Other Ways To Gather Material Or Fabric

Even though elastic is one of the best methods for gathering fabric, there are other methods. To know what they are, check the information below. 

1. Fabric Gathering With A Serger

When you want to gather fabric with a serger, you have to make some changes to the tension settings of the needles. You have to reset the tension wheels for the needles at a much higher number.

If you want the best gathers, you need to adjust the differential feed. The serger comes with a sharp blade, which will help cut off the edges of the material. 

For such reasons, you have to factor in the seam allowance while doing the fabric gathering. Using a serger will provide you with a solid and professional gathered effect. 

When you have finished the fabric gathering work, you must change back the serger settings how it was before. 

2. Fabric Gathering With Cord

Gathering material or fabric with a cord stands out as a helpful technique. The method is ideal for difficult materials to stitch materials, such as tulle. 

Apart from that, fabric gathering with a cord is also an excellent option for thick materials. You have to lay the cord down right on the line where it will be gathered. 

After that, with a zigzag stitch, you can easily sew over the cord with no issues. Remember, do not think of stitching within the cord. 

Make sure to secure one end and then pull through the zigzag stitch while the material gathers with the cord.

3. Fabric Gathering By Hand

You are well aware of how to get the fabric gathering work done through a sewing machine. But you can also do the same work with your hands. 

The hand technique is a lot simpler when compared with the machine technique. You will only require a thread and a needle for the gathering work. 

You have to create two parallel running stitches to make the gathers. When the stitches are longer, the folds will be more profound. 

The most significant advantage you will receive through hand gathering is complete control over the gathers and the stitching size. 

The method is ideal for fabric that requires plenty of precision. You can also use the hand gathering technique on thick materials. 

What Are The Essential Tools I Need For Fabric Gathering?

There are two essential tools, which are compulsory for the fabric gathering work. The first one is the gathering foot, and the second is the ruffler. The gathering foot will get the gathering job done for you. 

You have to replace it in the place of the standard presser foot on your machine. The foot will then gather up the entire material within one single motion. On the other hand, you have a ruffler that resembles a small device. 

To use it, you have to replace it with the regular presser foot. It comes with settings and gauges through which you easily set the distance and size between the ruffles. 

Can I Gather Fabric With Shirring Elastic? 

In short, yes, you can. Shirring elastic is also called an elastic thread. Using this particular gathering method will provide you with a smocked effect. You have to thread the shirring and then wound up on a bobbin.

You have to set the sewing device on the most extensive stitch, which is suitable for gathering. Once the sewing machine begins the stitching, the elastic thread stands to gather at the wrong area of the material. 

When you stitch one row, you have to pull the material. Doing so will prevent the fabric from puckering. The method is worth preserving even though using the elastic thread for shirring elastic might take a little bit of practice.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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