Sunday, October 11, 2015

Featherweight Skill Series - Gathering Foot

Thank you for coming to my Featherweight Skill Series! There are thousands of us who love our little 221s but need or want a little more "know-how" on using them to their fullest potential. I hope my posts and videos will help you get more know-how and confidence in using your beautiful Featherweight. Enjoy the classes!

Class #8 - Gathering Foot

Class supply list:
Your fully threaded sewing machine with the Gathering Foot, several practice pieces of fabric: 6" squares (or rectangular strips) of different types of lightweight fabric.

Let's get sewing!

Any place where I see results of the Gathering Foot being shown in a Singer instruction book, it is being used for shirring. I wonder why they didn't call it a Shirring Foot!

The way it works is the part of the foot is raised so material can come under the foot normally but not be pushed through the back of the foot as fast so gathers can form in the stitching area. Stitch parallel rows with this foot and you wind up with a nice shirred, puffy result.

This foot works best on the cross grain with long stitch lengths on lighter weight fabrics. All of my samples were sewn with regular threads. No elastic thread was installed in the bobbin on my samples, except on one at the end.

In order to get good results, you have to make some adjustments on your machine first. Let's do that!

Set your stitches to a long length. (Class #3) The shorter the length, the less it will gather.

Set your tension to a higher number. The tighter tension will help in the gathering process. 

Consider your fabric weight, install the correct needle, and turn your pressure knob accordingly. (Class #4)
I started experimenting on a long strip of china silk. 

After sewing seven parallel lines, I wound up with this. It's a nice shirred effect.
This is not a stretchy panel but has an interesting look. It would be a pretty addition on a pillow or a garment.
I ran a 6" square through in both directions to form a crosshatch. You can see the squares indicated by the lines of blue thread.
I lost a lot of size on this swatch. Notice how it gathered more in one direction than the other. I like it!

Here is what happened on a strip of silk charmeuse using the same settings. Very Hollywood; very glamorous!
Again, this is not stretchy, but is beautifully gathered.
I used this piece in a project. Check it out!

Remember, to decrease the effect, shorten the stitch length and/or lower the tension setting. Many different looks can be achieved this way. It is important to sew test strips in order to get your settings the way you want them before you stitch them on a project. Save the samples and jot the settings down for future reference and to save time!

Here is what it did on a medium weight cotton, using the same settings. Not nearly as dramatic. 
As a matter of fact, the first time I tried out this foot was on cotton and the results were similar. I was not enamored with this result. This type of fabric would be a good candidate for gathering with an elastic thread in the bobbin to help draw it together better. 

I found and bought a spool of Gutterman elastic thread at Joann's ...
...wound it by hand, keeping it unstretched, in a bobbin and installed it in the Featherweight. 

(Confession - this made me a little nervous but I kept going to see the results.)

After running a line of stitching down the other edge of the cotton strip, here's what I wound up with. 
That's a big difference! Now that is what I call gathering! It is quite stretchy. A perfect way to make shirring for a garment or gathering for a very nice ruffle. Comparing the edges, you can hardly tell the right edge was gathered at all.

There is a vintage double gathering foot that has a slot in the side so you can gather a lower fabric while attaching it to the upper fabric installed in the side slot. I do not have one of these.... If you do, please share a pic of yours!

Homework: Take your fabric squares and sew gathering lines on them! Try different spacing of parallel lines. Then do one in crosshatch. Try one in a random pattern to see how that looks. Make a chart documenting each square's info and keep all the samples for future reference. 

I hope you have been encouraged to use your Gathering Foot. Please share your pics on our Facebook group page, Featherweight Skill Series, so we can see your creations! 

If you like the series, share the link with your friends, pin it to Pinterest, join my Facebook group... Most importantly, "Let's get sewing!"

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