Gathering with elastic

Gathering with elastic

I really do love the look of gathered fabric, but from time to time I get a bit bored doing it - but then it really helps varying HOW I create gathers! Sewing straight stitches and pulling the bobbin thread to make the fabric gather, and gathering with a serger are two ways explained in another blog post.

Today I'd like to show you a third way: using elastic to make the fabric gather. It works beautifully with gathering the flounce of the 2-tier skirt on the Agnes pattern. Also the cropped Hanna sweatshirt and so on.

First, let's have a look at the finished dress. The best thing about using this method is that it's easier to get evenly distributed gathers. The sewing pattern I'm using is of course the Agnes cut out dress.


Let's gather the second tier of that skirt, step by step, using elastic. 

Since I'm making the Agnes dress, I've first prepared the upper part of the skirt and the flounce by sewing their side seams.

Now I fold them both so that I'm able to mark the center front, and center back. 

Cut a piece of elastic that has the same width of the fabric piece that you will attach the gathered piece to - in my case with the Agnes dress, it's the upper part. I also add 2 cm in total, so that the elastic is a bit longer, so I have something to grab on to later.

Also, mark the center point on the elastic.

The elastic I'm using is 6 mm wide clear elastic, one common brand of such is Framilon tape. It's usually around 6-10 mm wide.

If the piece you're gathering is long, then it helps to mark more center points. With this Agnes dress I'm making, in size 140, the flounce is quite wide so I choose to fold my flounce piece - the one I'm going to gather - again, to mark the center point between the side seams and the center front, and from side seams to center back.

Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the fabric piece you're going to gather, within the seam allowance. Pin the center of the elastic to your marked center point on the flounce (or whatever you're gathering). And pin the edges of the elastic at the side seams. Stretch and pin the elastic in between, to the point between side seam and center front/back, if you marked that.

 Take your project to the sewing machine. Set it to zig zag stitch, I use normal stitch width (approx. 2,5) and stitch length 2,5-3,5.

Start sewing a couple of stitches at one end of the elastic, anchor the thread.

Grab the elastic and pull/stretch it so that it's as long as the fabric - and sew. Do one section (from one pin to the next) at a time.

Gathering done! Evenly distributed gathers, so pretty!

My flounce piece now has the same width as the bottom edge of the skirt and I can sew them together :) 

I'm very happy with the gathering on this one.


The Agnes pattern was primarily created to be a dress, but you could also skip sewing the bodice and skirt pieces together - and just keep the skirt separate. Also really cute!