Gathering is a simple technique that is easy, even for beginners. You can stitch a long length of fabric to a shorter piece of fabric, creating fullness. Gathering is found in all types of projects. You’ll see it in garments such as gathered skirts and puffed sleeves as well as home dec items such as curtains and pillows. I know at least 10 ways to gather fabric but there are three that I use most often. Each one has specific uses and requires a particular presser foot. The three presser feet I use most for gathering are Buttonhole Foot #3/3C, Gathering Foot #16, and Clear Embroidery Foot #39/39C. Click here to download complete directions for the three gathering methods shown below. 

Two of these techniques use a narrow cord such as topstitching thread or crochet cotton. Gathering with Clear Embroidery Foot #39/39C uses a zigzag stitch over one cord. The cord is easier to pull and less likely to break, compared to thread, as you gather the fabric.

Buttonhole Foot #3/3C uses a Gathering Stitch sewn over two cords. The stitch that works perfectly for this is called the Gathering stitch and is Stitch #12 on most current BERNINA machines. If you are trying to gather a heavier fabric such as denim or heavy linen, this is a good technique because the double cords are strong enough to pull the fabric into gathers.

Gathering Foot #16  is the fastest and easiest way to gather – a great way to make long yards of ruffles. One thing to know is that after gathering with Foot #16, you are not able to freely adjust the gathers. You may pull the threads to make tighter gathers but you can’t spread them out.

Click here to download complete directions for these three gathering methods.

Even though two of these presser feet are not designed specifically for gathering, they both offer great ways to gather almost any type of fabric. So, when you are using specialty presser feet, look beyond the obvious and you’ll often find even more useful techniques that make your sewing easier and faster. To explore what each presser foot will do, take a look at The Big Book of Feet, which is available at your local BERNINA store.

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