Sewing & Pattern making Terms


Gathers are a beautiful and versatile technique used by seamstresses and pattern makers to add softness, fullness, and a feminine touch to garments and clothes. They can be employed in various areas of a garment, such as sleeves, bodices, skirts, and cuffs. In this article, we’ll explore the art of gathering and its application in garment construction.

Introduction to Gathers

Gathers are created by drawing in fabric along a stitching line to create controlled fullness. They are achieved by using evenly spaced stitches or a gathering technique, which allows excess fabric to be distributed into a smaller area, resulting in soft, gentle folds and a flattering silhouette.

Purpose and Benefits of Gathers

Gathers offer several advantages, including:

  • Soft Fullness: Gathers add a touch of femininity and create soft, flowing folds in a garment. They give the fabric depth and movement, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.
  • Fit and Shape: Gathers can be used strategically to shape a garment and provide a customized fit. They allow for adjustments in areas where a closer fit is desired, while still maintaining comfort and ease of movement.
  • Design Detail: Gathers can be utilized as a design feature to add visual interest and texture to a garment. They can highlight certain areas, create focal points, or add a touch of elegance to the overall design.
  • Versatility: Gathers can be applied to various types of fabrics, ranging from lightweight and drapey to medium-weight and stiffer fabrics. They can be adjusted in intensity, density, and placement, making them versatile for different garment styles and designs.
  • Fabric Efficiency: Gathers can be an efficient way to create fullness without using excessive fabric. By redistributing fabric into smaller areas, gathers provide an illusion of volume while using fewer resources.

How to Create Gathers

Those are the general steps to create gathers:

  1. Preparation: Determine the desired area for gathers and mark the stitching line. It’s essential to select the correct thread color and stitch length for optimal results.
  2. Stitching: Using a long machine stitch or hand basting, stitch along the marked line within the seam allowance. Leave thread tails at both ends without backstitching.
  3. Gathering: Hold one of the thread tails and gently push the fabric along the thread, evenly distributing the fullness until it matches the desired length or width. Repeat on the other side if necessary.
  4. Securing: Once the gathers are adjusted to the desired fullness, secure the threads by knotting them or temporarily tacking them in place. This will prevent the gathers from unraveling during the garment construction process.
  5. Attachment: Align the gathered fabric with the corresponding pattern piece or desired area, distributing the fullness evenly. Pin or baste the gathers in place before permanently stitching them to secure the gathers.


  • Elastic Thread: An alternative method to create gathers is using elastic thread. This technique involves winding elastic thread onto a bobbin and stitching parallel lines within the seam allowance. When the fabric is gently stretched, it gathers along the stitched lines, providing a slightly different effect and ease of application.

Gathers are a wonderful technique that adds elegance and femininity to clothes. Whether used for decorative purposes or to achieve a custom fit, gathers offer a range of possibilities in garment construction. By mastering the technique of gathering, seamstresses and pattern makers can infuse their creations with softness, fullness, and a touch of timeless beauty.

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Melissa Villegas
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