Karen LePage of Gentle Clothing is working on a series of pattern booklets with Alison Glass, set to publish later this summer. One of the patterns in the series is the blouse below, all sewn up in Anna Maria Horner’s new Loominous fabric. Loominous is yarn-dyed with a big of sparkle and Anna Maria’s signature rich, vibrant colors.

Karen shows you how to gather fabric “almost perfectly, almost every time,” using her new blouse design in Loominous to demonstrate the easy technique. Karen’s Loominous is from Harts Fabric; they carry the full, gorgeous collection!

If you have never worked with yarn-dyed woven fabric before, Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous will blow your mind. If you have experience with yarn-dyed fabrics, Loominous holds it’s own beautifully, and provides some sparkly surprises as well! It’s truly beautiful for garments. The weight of the fabrics vary based on the density of the weave, but I think that’s a positive trait.

Unlike printed fabric, yarn-dyed fabric is naturally on-grain. If you make garments, you’ll understand that this is almost like a dream. You can follow the design to guide your cutting to lead you straight to perfection! I love to play with grain in my garments, so it’s probably not surprising that I chose a straight-up checkerboard pattern, accented by a glimmer grid for fun accents.

Karen’s new blouse design with Alison Glass, coming soon.

For many years, I successfully avoided gathering any fabric whatsoever. After complete meltdown-inducing failure on what should have been cute dresses in high school. I gave up, thinking it wouldn’t matter since I preferred a tailored look, anyway.

Then I had a baby girl!

And the world of gathers, ruffles and associated headaches threatened to close in on me. In response, I naturally went to look for a gadget. I bought a ruffler foot. This is an amazing contraption, though intimidating.

Adjustable ruffling settings still didn’t offer this perfectionist the control I wanted over the distribution of gathers. (Why waste fabric by sewing gathers into seam allowances? What if I wanted to center gathers over a toddler belly for a better fit?)

So I practiced and experimented, took advice and discarded advice to wind up with this technique.

First, sew two rows of basting stitches with the needle tension down low. Sew one line of basting stitches on each side of the eventual seam allowance. This pattern calls for a 1/2″ seam allowance, so I’ve used 3/8″ and 5/8″ from the raw edge for the gathering stitches.

3/8″ then 5/8″ seam allowances.

Leave long tails wherever you’re going to match a seam and at Center Front and Center Back. I like to use at least four breaks like this for simpler gathering and to reduce the likelihood of breakage.

Leave a space to achieve a more accurate match between notches.

Match your seams or notches to the corresponding markings on your pattern. In this pattern we use a 2:1 ratio, meaning each gathered section is 2x as long as the section to which it will be gathered. It appears pretty droopy at first, but evenly droopy is the goal here.

Center Front marked and pinned. Raw edges matched and pinned.

Before you start to pull any threads, anchor one side by wrapping a figure “8” around a pin.

Anchored thread ends.

Next, you’ll want to pull both top threads at the same time to reduce the length of the gathered section to match the main section. You don’t have to worry about distribution yet; just make sure the sections are the same length. Then anchor the second set of threads as you did the first. (Setting the needle tension to low during the basting stitch makes this part really easy.)

Both sides anchored and gathered edge matched flat edge.

Repeat for each section: anchor at the beginning, pull to match, then anchor at the end of each.

Once all the gathered sections are completely matched and anchored, distribute the gathers evenly and pin in place. You shouldn’t require too many pins, as you’ll be stitching right away.

Pin between the sections.

Important: Return your settings to normal at this point… Regular tension and construction stitch length.

Now you can take your work over to the machine and stitch directly between the basting stitches, removing pins and brushing the figure eights out of the way as you go.

Your gathers are stabilized by the basting stitches, so you won’t accidentally ruin that careful distribution during this step as I have often done when basting inside the seam allowance only.

Stitch right between the tracks. Couldn’t be easier!

Here’s what the seam looks like from the right side:

Yank that thread right out of there!

Finally, take your gathered piece over to the ironing board and press from the loose edge up to the gathered seam, holding the main piece. This way you won’t crush those lovely gathers into random pleats!

Press carefully in the direction of the gathers, tucking the small tip of the iron between folds.

HartsThis post is sponsored by Harts Fabric, an independent fabric store in sunny Santa Cruz, California. Harts Fabric carries the full line of Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous! Since 1969 they’ve employed the most creative and fabric knowledgeable staff. All of the employees at Harts Fabric are avid crafters, quilters, sewists, knitters and true artists. They are always available to help you with any questions you may have about your sewing project, whether it be helping you calculate yardage or pick out the best fabric for your project; it’s what they love! Harts Fabric employees pride themselves on giving customers the best advice when it comes to sewing. They offer a unique assortment of cottons, eco, fashion, drapery and upholstery fabrics. Be sure to check out their latest fashion fabrics just in from New York! They have amazing rayons, knits, voile and lace.