Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gathering with a Serger

In the old days we gathered fabric on our sewing machines by pulling bobbin thread, zigzaging over floss and a whole host of other stand on your head tricks. But with sergers today you can easily gather fabric either on the edge (with a 4 thread) or down the center (with a 5 thread). How U do dat?
First of all adjust the needle thread tensions to a higher number. For example if 3 is normal for your serger - set both needle tensions at 6 or 7, adjust the stitch length to as high a number as you can. Lastly adjust the differential feed to the highest number you can. For some sergers that means adjusting the stitch length to 4 or 5. The differential feed settings differ from model to model. So if 2 is the highest number on the dial - than that's the number for U.

Of course several sewing machine companies that carry sergers offer a "gathering foot" or "gathering attachment" for sergers. I can tell you from experience - THEY WORK GREAT!!!! The gathering is uniform and neat. (Don't worry about the stitches on the edge looking loopy - they are supposed to.)

How do you know how much the fabric will gather? Well - here is one way to judge. Take a 10" scrap of the fabric you will be using for the project (garment) and gather it. Then run to the yardstick or cutting table if you have one and measure and see what you have left. Let's say you have 5". Well you know how to calculate now. One teacher I had said start with 12" - yeah that would work if I had paid more attention in math class. Did not. I was too busy flirting with all the boys. I was a teenager in the 60's - enough said.

Everyday I am grateful to the person that invented the calculator. Thanks!
If you scroll down you will see a little girl's dress I made with a ruffle at the hem That is exactly how I did it. Go take a look.

Happy Velentine's Day everyone!

23 comments:

  1. Is there a way to decrease how much the fabric is gathered? I tried just pulling at the fabric to ungather it a bit, only to have all the stitching completely come out.

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  2. Yes.
    1. lower the number on the differential feed. OR
    2. Lower the needle thread tensions. Or
    3. Lower the number for the stitch length.

    The higher the humbers the tighter the gathering.

    Also, For the gathers not to come undone - when you start only stitch a about 1" then bring the tail around and serge on top of it. When you get to the end stitch off about 1", flip the fabric over and stitch on top of the previous stitches. It is sort of like serger backstitching. This will lock the stitches.

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  3. Thanks for this!! I followed my manual's instructions and it didn't do anything!!! Ha ha!
    I knew your method would work!

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  4. hurrah! At last a serger gathering tutorial that actually works! I thought there was something wrong with my serger as it wasn't doing it properly. I have written about it on my blog. http://frutejuce.blogspot.com
    Thanks very much.

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  5. Thank you very much! You made my day!!!!

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  6. I have a question about the gathering attachment. It seems like the bottom layer doesn't gather nearly as much with the attachment as without. I already have the differential feed, stitch length, and both needle tensions set as high as they'll go and it's still not gathering enough. Am I doing something wrong?

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  7. I don't think you are doing anything wrong.
    Is the attachment mounted properly, it may be covering the feed dogs? (sometimes the instructions for mounting the attachment are a bit confusing.
    If you tell me the model you have and the brand I will research and give you an accurate answer. I used to teach serger club and I taught on all the brands. I have a library of reference material that I will gladly search to help you.

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  8. I have a Janome MyLock 634D and the Janome brand gathering attachment. I tried gathering a single layer of fabric without the attachment and it seemed to gather twice as much as 2 layers with the same settings. I'd love any tips you can give me. Thanks! :)

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  9. I have not forgotten you. I will research today and give you some suggestions. Have you tried the gathering foot, I think it is "G".

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  10. The gathering attachment is intended for gathering the fabric on the bottom but not the top. Sort of like a broom stick skirt, or attaching a ruffle to a curtain etc. For single layer the "G" foot is sensational. So far I don't know that you can gather two pieces of fabric at the same time. Is that what you are trying to do?

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  11. No, I was trying to make a broomstick skirt, but I couldn't get the bottom layer to gather enough when using the gathering attachment, even with my diff feed, stitch length, and tension on both needles turned all the way up.

    However, the separate layers gathered just fine if I did them individually, without the attachment, so I was having to gather them then serge them together again, which was the step I was hoping to avoid by using the attachment. :( I was just wondering if there was a setting I was missing to get it to gather more.

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  12. One thing that came to mind. If there is a knob on the top for the pressure for the presser foot - maybe that needs to be adjusted to make the fabric closer to the feed dogs when gathering. If so you can either tighten or loosend depending on the loft of the fabric. I would have to look at the machine on line to determine if there is a knob on the top. Let me know.

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  13. Just looked - there is a knob there...before you try, mark where the knob was for normal. Hard to go back when you don't know where you started. good luck.

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  14. I have a Singer Quantum and am trying to gather knits using my gathering foot. the knit keeps kicking out to the left of my plate. Am I doing something wrong and if so how do I correct it?

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  15. Gathering is a stitch that most of the normal settings have been changed, especially the differential feed. You do need to help guide the fabric along because it wants to DANCE! But it really shouldn't kick it away from the presser foot or feed dogs. When serging a regualr 4 thread stitch does it do the same thing?
    I love the gathering foot attachment, but honestly I have never used it for knit fabrics. When I have gathered knit I have just modified the settings and used the regular all purpose foot.
    I am going to ask some friends about this issue.

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you , but I was working my day job. :-)

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  16. Hi , I have a singer 14T968DC serger. I am trying to use the gathering foot, but i have such trouble with. The fabric doesn't gather, and it keep kicking off the plate to the left. I use 3 threads, diff at 2.
    Any help? Thanks!

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  17. For best results use a 4 thread stitch for gatherine. Adjust the needle thread tenstions to a higher setting than normal. I am not familiar with the model# of your serger, what brand is it?

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  18. Oh how I wish you could find a class on sergers. I have a Janome 1200D and want to learn so badly. The sewing center I purchased has been very nice, but more one on one would be wonderful. I'm trying to sew ruffles onto leggings (knit fabric) and the fabric won't ruffle with the ruffle attachment. It does a nice job on cotton, but not knits. Is there something else I can try? Thank you

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  19. on a scrap have you tried setting the differential feed at 0.5? It stretches it out and if you pull on it it curls into alettuce edge. But it is intended for the hem - using a rolled hem.
    I assume you have the gathering foot?
    I always set the stitch length at a high number and the stitch length on a high number too for gathering. AND adjust the needle tensions to a number at least 2 higher than normal. But test on a scrap first.

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  20. YES! this was just what I was looking for. The needle tension was the key. It worked beautifully on my Pfaff. Thanks!

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  21. I have a Pfaff serger. I am very new to sewing so I could definitely be doing something wrong....every time I try to do this, one of my threads breaks. Any suggestions? Would I be better off to just get the gathering foot? Thanks!

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  22. I have a Singer Finishing Touch serger and I've spent hours trying to get it to gather fabric, and just cannot figure it out. :( Any chance someone here might know how to do this?

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