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Unread 02-14-2013, 08:51 PM   #1
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Question Help on making a gathered skirt?

I've been working on this dress for 2 months, and the one part that I am having the most trouble with is the gathered skirt. (This is the pattern - Simplicity 2325 Alice in Wonderland dress - the shorter one on the left.

Anyways, there is one step that requires me gathering the skirt. I sew a long stitch, then pull the top thread so it all gathers at the waist. However, every time I've done this, I break the thread and have to start over. I don't know if I'm doing it wrong, or if there's an easier way that I just don't know of.

Any help is appreciated - Zenkaikon is in just over 1 month so I need to get this done soon! I'm making an APH Hungary cosplay so that's what this is for. (If needed, here is a cosplay reference and here is an art reference. Sorry it's fanart, that's the best I could find )
Otakon 2016 cosplays:
-Hotarumaru (Touken Ranbu)
-Oikawa Tooru (Haikyuu!!)
-Koizumi Hanayo (Love Live!)

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Unread 02-14-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
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Hiya there! I hope that I can help you. Usually, the thread you are supposed to be pulling is the bobbin or bottom thread. The top thread will break on you if pulled. Just try pulling the other thread and easing the fabric along when you do. You have to be somewhat delicate with this method. What I usually do is, if I have a large gathering area, I'll actually sew the gathering stitch in four, separate sections. That way, if thread breaks on me, it'll only affect that one section and not the rest!

Also, another method I'd like to recommend is the zigzag gathering method. (EDIT: Sorry, forgot to include the link to the youtube video, lol). I personally don't like doing this for very large areas (it's just too hard to get an even gather), but for your purposes, it might be easier to work with. Also, I do it a little differently than the lady in the video does. I actually have a third spool of red, buttonhole thread in my lap that I have going in between the zigzag stitches. I'd recommend using this separate spool of thread if you're going to gather on large areas. Let me know if I need to explain this more.

Best of luck! <3 Let me know if you have any more questions and I'll do my best to (guide you to) help, lol.
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Last edited by p0p0p0psico : 02-14-2013 at 09:12 PM. Reason: Forgot the link~
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Unread 02-14-2013, 09:15 PM   #3
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I agree on pulling the bobbin thread. Also, make sure you are using the longest stitch you can get on your machine. When I do gathering stitches, I usually do a row right on the seam allowance and one inside it. If one snaps in one place, you still have another. I have also done what p0p0p0psico suggested, sewing several sections of gathering stitches if the area is too big.
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Unread 02-15-2013, 07:00 AM   #4
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Gathering is tedious.
Ideally, you will sew TWO rows of long stitches, for exactly this reason, if you break a thread you have a back up.
I don't just pull, pull, pull until it's gathered. I pull the thread, then move the gathers down the length of the thread, spreading out the gathers across the distance needed, then repeat until it's where you want it.
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Unread 02-15-2013, 03:08 PM   #5
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Agreeing with everything above. I started in RenFest costuming, and that is obsessed with gathering. If the area's big enough, or the garment's just been fighting, I'll do a combo approach where I use two rows of gathering stitches AND put them in sections.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 02:10 AM   #6
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It could be the type of thread you are using: some thread is flimsy and will snap if you pull it. What you could try is using a better thread, or don't try and gather the skirt with one length of thread. Sew gathering stitch in sections, and gather it in sections (hope this makes sense)
By the way, when you do a backstitch to lock the stitch, amke sure you only do it on one end, not on both.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 07:02 AM   #7
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Another person going to Zenkaikon!?
anyway, I've made ... well started making this same dress. I've made a ton of gathered skirts too.

Depending on the fabric you might be able to use a wide stitch and high tension to let the machine gather for you. this doesn't always work, sometimes i have to re thread my machine a few times yes and waste all that thread T_T, so if you don't see gathers in the back don't keep going >_<;

If all else fails!
Get some craft thread (embroidery thread) and hand stitch a single line. Pull to gather the fabric to the correct length. When you sew the band on you can cover the craft thread. or if you put it low pull the craft thread out, after the band is on. you can also sew over it to keep the gathers in, before the waist band.

I've done skirt ruffles by hand like this... you'll want to watch a DVD or 2 if you do it this way. it is not as fast as any of the other ways mentioned.

That zigzag method looks interesting, I might try that today X3
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Unread 02-16-2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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Thanks to everyone for their advice! And to p0p0p0psico, that zigzag method worked great! I'm definitely saving that video if I ever need to do this again.

Well, onto the next part.
Otakon 2016 cosplays:
-Hotarumaru (Touken Ranbu)
-Oikawa Tooru (Haikyuu!!)
-Koizumi Hanayo (Love Live!)

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