Gathering with a Serger! (& Sewing Machines too!)

Well I had heard about this for a long time, but I finally decided to give it a try…. & I have found my new love!!!! I HATE gathering… as much as one person possibly can. In all honesty that is what kept me from sewing for a very long time. Silly I know, but gathering & zippers are just no fun! I had learned how to gather with clear elastic… better then doing it by hand, but not super easy either unless it is just light gathering.

Anyways I have had a few people ask me about this so I figured I would make a photo tutorial! I have seen a few descriptions on the web, but never a photo tute. Its pretty simple & if you machine doesn’t have a differential thats fine, you don’t need it to gather. This process is a little bit of trial & error… every machine is different as well as fabric. Here are the basic instructions!

STEP 1: Loosen your pressure foot!

This allows for it to gather more. To do this simply locate the pressure foot adjuster directly above the pressure foot on your machine. Then using a coin or tool you want to loosen it… remember, lefty loosy, righty tighty! I normally do 3-5 turns, but every machine is different.


STEP 2: Adjust differential (if you machine has it) & Stitch Length

You want to turn it all the way up to the highest number. It is important you do this FIRST because when you set the stitch length it will adjust it on most machines.

Now that your differential is set you want to adjust your stitch length to the longest possible… this is 5 on most machines. This may change the differential, thats okay, just leave it alone.


Step 3: Adjusting Tension & Looper Threads…

I turn both my looper’s up one number… they are normally set at 3, so I turn them up to 4. Then turn your needle thread tension up to 9 or the highest number available.


Step 4: SEW!

Put your fabric in the machine, put the presser foot down & sew! DON’T Pull or push the fabric, just let the serger pull it through, just keep it lined up straight. It should look something like this…





Step 5: Attach it to the rest of the project!

Make sure to first put ALL your settings back to where they were!!!! That can cause some headaches if not. Then go for it!


Remember this is trial & error, I ALWAYS test it first to see how it gathers, & to figure out how much I need. If you serged it & its to long you can simply gather it a little by hand or try running it through the machine a second time. If you gathered it TO much you can break a few strings & carefully ungather it a bit until it fits.

If your needle thread(s) break… turn your tension down by .5 & try again. some machines don’t like it that high! The lower your tension # the less gathers.

Well I hope that this tutorial will help someone! This is a technique I don’t think I can live with out!!!!

THIS CAN BE DONE ON SEWING MACHINES AS WELL! The gather is not as nice, but it is is very easy to adjust because you have the traditional pull strings. Just loosen the pressure foot, turn the tension all the way up & set the stitch length to the highest on your machine, you want a basting stitch. These are some quick pics I snapped. It will look better if you pin your gathered peice to the other peice first… I did not do this as I was in a hurry. The serger gather is a lot easier to handle then the sewing machine one… cause it is more secure, which is why I prefer it, it holds its gathers in place better until you get them attached. BUT if you don’t have one this is the next best thing!






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51 Responses to “Gathering with a Serger! (& Sewing Machines too!)”

  1. Shea March 4, 2008 at 9:52 pm #4437

    Great Tut
    thank you :)

  2. thelandofka March 31, 2008 at 2:43 pm #4438

    I use this technique on my serger all the time! I found it on, but this is a great tutorial to put out there. It’s such a time saver.

  3. Steph June 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm #4439

    Awesome! I just bought the same serger that you have :) Any tips on the Lettuce Edge. I asked my dealer and she wasn’t very informative on how to do a lettuce edge????? Thanks for the tips!

  4. Theresa June 14, 2008 at 6:17 pm #4440

    Great Tut!! I started off struggling with a ruffler foot attachment that my machine apparently hated. My mom made an off handed comment about my surger being able to make ruffles, but didn’t know how to do it herself, so I did a quick Google search and you popped up first but WOW you explained it quick and easy and I’ve found yet another reason to love my serger! The ruffler foot, yeah that’s making a return trip back to the store it came from!

  5. Carrie July 14, 2008 at 3:06 pm #4441

    YAY!!!!! Thank you!

  6. Patricia LaForte August 7, 2008 at 6:29 am #4442

    I was considering purchasing a ruffler foot for my sewing machine, now I don’t have to. Many thanks for this easy to follow & understand tute.

  7. Veronica November 16, 2008 at 9:44 am #4443

    Thank you for your gathering tips….back to my serger. V.

  8. Patricia December 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm #4444

    I bought a Janome 634D about 3 years ago. There it sat in my sewing room looking pretty. It was threaded but I was still terrified to use it. Well, finally, I said enough is enough!!! This is not going to conquer me by scaring me to death. It came with a VHS tape and I looked at it about 25 times!!!!. Then I read the book that came with it. So one day I took all the thread off and started at the beginning. That was a LONG LONG Day, however I kept persistent and patient. FINALLY SUCCESS CAME and machine was correctly threaded and tension was set properly. WHAT A GREAT SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. Now it’s just a snap to thread my serger. AND IF I CAN DO IT ANYONE CAN DO IT.

    That same day I learned to change from standard stitch to rolled hem and do a rolled hem, with wooly nylon thread, a lettuce hem with fishing line thread.

    The rolled hem is wonderful. It was close to Christmas and I made so many glitzy tree skirts and tablecloths for dear daughter and dear daughter in laws that they now think I’m a pro. I’m still learning and I’m on to serging pj’s for grandkids, receiving blankets for babies. It’s so fast and much more economical than purchasing from stores. I now am a fabric stash collector. When I go to the fabric store I call it Heaven.

  9. Dorian December 7, 2008 at 11:08 am #4445

    Gather ye rosebuds, or your ruffle for your kids twirly skirt. I LOVED
    this lesson and I have it now. I love your site. Thank you…..Dor

  10. Jennifer February 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm #4446

    This is the most fabulous find- seriously, you took something that was tedious and dreaded and made it SIMPLE!!!!!!!! My machine doesn’t quite like the 9 for thread tension, but an 8 does a perfect job! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  11. Tammy February 20, 2009 at 10:01 am #4447

    This is a great help, I just got a new Brothers and my old machine (20 years) didn’t have all of this fun stuff. This was very helpful. Thank you Tammy

  12. Nicole March 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm #4448

    Just bought and used the Janome 1110dx and looooove it. I am going to try to make some ruffles tonight using this easy tutorial. Thank you so much!!