Minoru Sew-Along #3: Gathering!

Hello, Sew-Alongers and those watching from the bleachers! How are you all doing? Who’s all caught up? Who’s waiting until the weekend to sew like a madwoman and catch up?

Today’s sewing step is quite easy. All we’re going to do is gather the neckline, in preparation for sewing it to the collar. You’ll be finished this step in less time than it took for me to write it up! (This is why I need to stay one day ahead of you guys – it’s faster to just sew!) I’ll demonstrate the gathering, give you some extra gathering tips and links, and suggest some gathering alternatives for the adventurous ones!

Want to catch up on previous Sew-Along posts? Click the links below to read more:

Here’s how:

First, make sure your starting and stopping point are clearly marked. I marked my back points with tailor’s tacks, and marked the front point with a pin.

Now, sew two rows of long, gathering stitches from start point to stopping point. I like to sew my first row 1/2″ (1.2mm) from the raw edge, and then sew my next row halfway between the first row and the edge.

Repeat for the other side of the jacket. If one row of stitching ends up a stitch longer than the other, I will gently pull out the last stitch on the long row so the rows are even.

Some thoughts on gathering:

Gathering alternatives:

  • Don’t like the look of gathers? You could pleat the fabric instead. This is a good alternative to gathering for bulky fabrics. Wait until we attach the collar, then fold the fabric into pleats when you pin it to the collar. Tip: do one side, then measure the pleats and pleat placement to make the other side match! This is a modification that’s better left for advanced sewers/sewists/seamstresses.
  • On that note, instead of pleats you could try sewing little darts instead. This is also one for the experts, no guaranteed results but it would be neat to try!

Any questions on this step of the Sew-Along? Leave a comment below!

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29 Responses to Minoru Sew-Along #3: Gathering!

  1. Vicki Kate January 18, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Ooh, nice short and sweet step! I was expecting hood action but I’ll definitely be as caught up by this evening with this step :)

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Hood action starts tomorrow! Love it, hood action. Easy day today because of the heavy cutting-and-marking day and yesterday’s sewing day!

  2. Jodi January 18, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Wow. That was easy. :) I’m trying my best to keep pace with you and not get ahead, mostly because I am really enjoying all of your little sewing tips.


    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Yay! It’s nice to have an easy sewing day now and then, otherwise it’s going to feel like I’m a mean teacher, giving you homework. :)

  3. Adrienne January 18, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I appreciate your tip for bulky fabric. The fabric I picked is gorgeous, cheap — but also quite heavy weight! We’ll see how this works out.

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      The hardest part of thick fabric is going to be managing those gathers and getting them to behave! Good luck! I haven’t started my heavier-weight jacket but I’m willing to replace the gathers with pleats if they look too lumpy and odd.

  4. arlene January 18, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    If I were to opt for darts, how long would/should I make them?

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      This is going to depend on your body and the size you’re making – and how many darts you do, and where they start. I thought I’d mention it as an alternative but I didn’t plan on going into detail on how to do it because it’s hard to do without making a muslin or mock-up of the neck area!
      I’d estimate they should be somewhere between 7-10cm – not too close to the bust or you’ll make the jacket too small! I hope this helps – because you’re taking in the jacket and removing some of that gathering ease, it makes the jacket more fitted in the shoulder/bust/upper back area so you want to check it against your own body.

  5. Katherine January 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    I always have an awful time gathering with the longest stitch on my machine! It seems to always stick and I pull and pull and then the thread breaks and it’s back to step one!

    This time, I ended up just hand-sewing a nice long running stitch across the neckline (and cuff) and gathering was a breeze. I hope I’m not doing something really wrong here!

    Also love the tips for alternatives to gathering. I already love making this jacket so much that I want to make one with heavy wool and pleats/darts sound great!

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      You can also zigzag over a thick thread, and pull the thick thread to form gathers. I’ve seen it done and it works well when your thread is likely to break!

      In sewing, there is no one ‘right’ way to do things, so your way is perfectly fine!

    • Lesley January 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      G’day from another vicarious sewer! I wonder if pulling up the gathering stitch will be easier if you only pull up the bobbin thread Katherine (of course you may already be doing this). I always run into trouble when I pull on the upper thread.

    • Bela Saudade February 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      Katherine, I know I’m super late, but I also gather with a hand sewn running stitch OR stitch over a piece of embroidery thread! I am using a bulky but pleasantly easy to sew Alpaca for the Minoru. I gathered first with my running stitch just to get the idea of how much I needed to take in and then I converted the gathers to pleats. It worked great. I will use that from now on when anything bulky calls for gathers. My last project broke 2 needles and constantly skipped stitches as I tried to sew over bulky gathers. The pleats should have crossed my mind, but didn’t. Thanks Tasia. I’m enjoying the extra tips you throw in for the sew along.

    • Zena March 23, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      I’m even later, but for next time try loosening the tension (top thread) when basting for the gathers. Then, as Lesley suggested, pull the bobbin thread.

  6. Dana January 18, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    It’s hard to not pull those threads to gather… must resist.

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      Ha, I know! I wanted to pull mine too – except then I’d have to photograph my work and show you that I ignored my own directions! :)

  7. Mary January 18, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    I have a question for the group or Tasia: are we to be mirroring these steps with the lining also right now? Or, are we sewing the shell, and then going back to the lining?

    For anyone using a thick fabric like the corduroy I am using, it may be easier to hand sew the gathers. I agree with Katherine above. :-)

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Mary! You’re right, we’re just sewing the shell right now. Unless I mention otherwise, we’re literally following the photos as shown. (Also I haven’t cut my lining yet, oops!) If you (or anyone else) is using a contrasting lining, it’s easy to sew the shell as far as we can, then switch to lining thread, then sew the lining, and switch back to put the jacket together. It would slow you down if you had to keep switching thread for the lining and shell each time you did a step!

  8. Meagan January 18, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    I will be sewing like a madwoman this weekend…so far have only cut out my lining pieces! I enjoyed the post on marking – this is something that I’ve never done very well, so I took my time marking the elastic with a stich and tried the tailors tacks as well. Can’t wait to start sewing!

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      I never do marking well either, I’m too impatient! But it can make such a huge difference for your sewing if the pieces are well-marked at the beginning, it’s easier to line everything up!

  9. Pauline January 18, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Mary, that’s actually a very good question, I think we are supposed to sew only the outside, at least that’s what I am doing, and the lining later. Anyone doing both the fabric and lining at the same time?

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      You’re right – we’re doing just the shell. Lining comes later! We’re mostly following the sewing instructions included in the pattern, with a few extra tips thrown in along the way. So if you read ahead in your patterns you’ll know what’s coming next!

  10. LLBB January 18, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Myself, I couldn’t resist :) & I went ahead and gathered/attached to the collar. Tasia, your tip from the crescent muslin link about figure-8 winding the end of the bobbin thread to a pin to anchor it is aMAZing!! The loosy goosy ends have always irritated me when I’ve done gathering in other projects. Thank you!

    • Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      I knew at least one person wouldn’t be able to resist! :) It’s OK if you’ve got the thread tails there to unwind and flatten it out if you have trouble pinning it to the collar.
      Isn’t that the coolest tip? Keeps your gathers well-behaved,it’s easy to adjust them if needed, and your gathered section stays gathered to the dimensions you want!

  11. Dana January 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I have the day off today. I have a big one ahead of me, starting with tracing the pattern. I am hoping to be caught up by Saturday afternoon. I am really glad I waited for the sew a long as there have been some really great tips already, things that will make it much easier. Thanks Tasia.

  12. Jessica January 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I finally found my fabric so I’ve got some catching up to do!

  13. noreen January 21, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    I went ahead and gathered (did it before I read the post – D’oh!), but I used three rows of gathering stitches instead of two. I wasn’t happy with the look of the gathers on my muslin, and came across a post on gathering stitches at the Colletterie that showed the difference between using three or two. What a neater look it gave me!

    I’m all caught up on sewing now, and only behind on cutting the rest of the fabric!

  14. cass January 31, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Woohoo. A nice quick step. I have started using contrasting thread whenever I do gathers. I find it so much easier to deal with when I can see it against thre fabric and when I remove it I don’t panic and think I am going to remove the wrong thread.

    On to step #8 (yay, I am doing view B so get to skip heaps).

    Do I get bonus points for doing all this with a 6week old in my arms (in a carrier)?

  15. Florencia February 24, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    You make it sound so easy !
    I got my pattern today and can’t wait to start ;)


  1. Minoru Sew-Along: Week One « Sew Well - April 2, 2012

    […] Day three: sew the neckline gathering stitches. Check. I added a third line of stitches since I like the look of the gathering in this Colette Patterns tutorial. […]