Thoughts on gathering and bits of elastic!


I was given 2 of these skirts to make up as samples for a student at Glasgow School of Art. They were identical, one long, one short. I only like gathering, if it’s given specific areas, or has a decent amount of volume, otherwise random gathering often looks like a mistake!? To my eye it can be unflattering and adds bulk to areas that should avoid bulk, for example, over the hips at the side seams. When I was given these skirts to sew up, I decided not to use the gathering as an all round feature but to fix the areas to be gathered. This meant (1) I could focus on keeping the gathers away from the stomach and hips and (2) the amount that had been allowed for gathering in the skirt was meagre and had the potential to look like badly attached pieces!?

When gathering and attaching.

I recently used gathering when working on my old 80’s blouse pattern for the #refashioners and the #vintagepledge.

This was on the sleeve, and in both cases I gathered it in specific areas only, I was pleased with how it looked.

The shoulder line on the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress pattern has been moved forward to sit on the front of the dress, the gathering here is a feature often used on blouses, shirts and dresses. When I made the first jacket, the gathering almost disappeared but this was because my fabric was so lightweight. The second, sleeveless version shows off the gathering here to a much greater extent simply because it’s a slightly heavier weight of fabric!

Gathering is often used on the skirt parts of vintage skirt and dress patterns, and these are not usually cut as rectangles, but cut with side shaping and a proportionately fuller hem circumference to waist ratio. So while I’m thinking about gathering, I realise that, for me, one of the best ways to achieve all round gathers is with the use of elastic. The gathering, or flatness, that you can achieve with elastic is a completely different thing!?


The khaki trouser shows a separate all round elastic waistband, stitched decoratively with a tie. This is a great use of elastic, as it adds comfort as well.


This all round elastic waistband is a grown on one, I made it for Kelly’s collection and it was based on a male 70’s Simplicity sports jogger, it’s really simply made and functional.


The skirt waistband shows one of my favourite uses of elastic, when it’s used flat and rolled inside a loose waist edge. No need for a zip as it stretches on and it sits flat like a normal faced waistband. Such a clever use!


13 thoughts on “Thoughts on gathering and bits of elastic!

  1. lovely illustration of gathering on the black skirt, its so effective and I like the way its divided up, it really gives it a sense of order. I find gathers fussy, and potentially unflattering (prob why i am rather taken with the black skirt!). I dont wear stuff with gathers much, and I recently made a 40s blouse with gathers above bust, and I am finding it a bit fussy looking – and cant bring myself to hem yet (may revisit it after reading this )


    1. That’s just how I feel. Maybe you could turn the gathers on the blouse into little tucks instead. I know that feeling when you can’t bring yourself to finish something because you’re not quite sure about it!!


      1. Yup! Hearing that. I find gathered waists only suit people with very tiny waists. I just generally end up looking like a very wide, shapeless plank! Not my favourite look 😉


  2. Great discussion as always Linda. I’m tempted to use the gathering foot on my next gathered make. Having tried it recently, I like the way it makes teensy ticks that fall in one direction. My problem is though, how to estimate the fabric consumed by the gathers using a specialised foot. Sounds like maths is needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lesley. I’ll look at it properly later. Looks like thinking to be done!! I’m wondering now if I met Liz at a meet in Glasgow! I’m good with faces but not names, not the best for blogging! Looking forward to that tea and cake though.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s