How to use a gathering foot on a sewing machine

Written by emily weller
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A gathering foot makes it possible to sew shirring using a sewing machine. Using a gathering foot, you can attach one layer of shirred fabric to a layer that remains flat. Machine gathers are faster to sew and turn out more even than hand-pulled gathers. It is easy to change the size of the gathers by adjusting thread length and tension.

Your sewing machine may have come with a gathering foot. If not, you can purchase one made specifically for your machine or a generic one.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Thread

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  1. 1

    Place the top fabric, the one that will be shirred, over the bottom, flat fabric. Pin in place if you like.

  2. 2

    Set your sewing machine on straight stitch. Adjust the stitch length and tension. Make the tension tighter and the stitches longer to create larger, more full gathers.

  3. 3

    Sew in a straight line down the length of the fabric. The top layer should bunch up and gather. Adjust your machine settings if the gathering is too large or small.

Tips and warnings

  • To make rows of shirring, lift the foot and the needle. Move the fabric over and sew the next row. Depending on the size of your machine's gathering foot, you can use the edge of the foot to make rows that are 1/4 of an inch to 3/8 of an inch apart.

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