Using a gathering foot is an easy and time-saving way to gather your fabric automatically. They are readily available for most makes of sewing machine and are fairly inexpensive.
What is a Gathering Foot?
A gathering foot looks similar to your regular all-purpose presser foot but gathers as you sew due to the shape of the foot. It works best with finer fabrics and is not recommended for thick or difficult fabrics.
A gathering foot will produce even, fine and soft gathers rather than deep gathers or pleats.
This is my Janome gathering foot which I purchased on Ebay. I have tried generic brands too that I purchased in a kit and they seem to work just as well.
Note: A gathering foot is different from a Ruffler which is a larger, more complicated device and produces a more dramatic gather.
HOW TO USE A GATHERING FOOT
On the RIGHT side of the fabric, straight stitch within the seam allowance. Unlike traditional methods of gathering, you only need to stitch the one line and you dont’ need to pull the threads.
ADJUSTING THE GATHERS
The longer the stitch length and the tighter the upper tension, the fuller the gathers.
The gathers will also be affected by the thickness of your fabric. You will see the best results in fine fabrics. Heavy fabrics are very hard to gather with this foot and would be better suited to gathering with a ruffler.
You will need to test your fabric to see how much it gathers and adjust the stitch length or tension to get it correct.
Start by putting your tension dial on 7.0 and stitch length on 4.0 and then adjust to your preference.
See how the longer stitch length produced deeper gathers.
TIPS for using a gathering foot
The easy way – Cut the ruffle a bit longer than needed and then trim any excess at the end. This way you don’t have to stress out over getting the gathering stitch length and tension perfect.
The precise way – Cut a test strip of 10 inches then gather it with your foot. Measure the new length. If it is 5 inches you have a 2:1 gather. Keep adjusting the stitch length and tension until you have the correct ratio.