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Sewing Tips: Gathering and Sewing With Knits

I know, it’s been a while since my last sewing tips.

(Click here for other basic sewing tips.)

But many of you asked about the stitch that I used with this shirt.

Remember how I explained at the bottom of the post that I asked my mom about sewing with knits and she mentioned that crooked little zig-zag stitch. Well, many of you asked if I could show more of what that looked like.

Here is the stitch on my machine.

That squashed looking zig-zag, listed as #42.

Here is what the stitch looks like on some knit. Notice the difference between the left and the right. The stitch on the left has a wide stitch length…..actually up to the max that it will go. And the one on the right has a small stitch length. It’s all bunched up and rippling the fabric. So play around with it and see what knits it works on best for you.

**And if you’ll notice the shape of the stitch………it will allow the stitch to stretch, unlike a straight stitch where there is no give to it. But is more narrow and less noticeable than a regular zig-zag stitch. But that being said…….I still prefer the ease of the zig-zag on some knits. So play around with it and see what works for you.

Onto another question. Gathering.

Such a simple technique……after you see how it’s done. However, if I have just said, “gather along one side”, that probably has really confused some of you.

So here is the basic idea of gathering fabric. (though there are many techniques out there….) You’ll want to make a basting stitch, which is a really long stitch length. The stitch on the right is a basting stitch and the one on the left is a regular stitch. See the difference in stitch length? (Click on image to enlarge.)

But make sure not to back-stitch on either end. And leave each of your thread ends a few inches long.

Now, looking at that basting stitch, you’ll see that there is the top thread and a bottom one at each end of your stitch.

Grab a hold of the top string and pull as you slide the fabric along the thread, gathering as you go.

Keep pulling and gathering…..

And then pull from the other end, but be sure to pull on the top thread as well.

The if you’re attaching it to another piece of fabric, turn it over so that right sides are facing each other………

And then pin the ends together. But if it is gaping…..

Just pull gently on the thread (the one that was on the top, but now is on the bottom because you flipped your fabric over) and slide the gathers along until they are even.

Now, if you were to sew right along that basting stitch and flip your fabric right side out, it would look something like this. But mine is just pinned, so just imagine with me…..

Make sense?

I hope that helps a bit more for those who had questions about both techniques.


Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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