Gathering with Cord – The Easy Method

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If you are struggling to gather your fabric using traditional gathering methods then this is for you. Gathering with cord using a zig-zag stitch is great for thick fabrics and difficult fabrics such as sewing tulle.

gathering with cordPinGathering with Cord


Gathering with Cord When to Use Gathering with CordSupplies for Gathering with CordMore Articles On GatheringGathering with Cord Step by Step TutorialStep 1 – Zig-zagStep 2 – Pull the threadStep 3 – Stitch in placeGathering with CordToolsMaterialsInstructionsNotes

Gathering with Cord

When to Use Gathering with Cord

Gathering using a cord and a zig-zag is best for thick fabrics and tulle. It gives great results in fabrics that can`t be gathered using the traditional machine method using long basting stitches.

Supplies for Gathering with Cord

CORD – Thin but strong cord or string such as crochet thread. Dental floss also works amazingly well on difficult fabrics due to its slippery nature.MACHINE – Sewing machine with a zig-zag functionPROJECT – Your fabric or sewing projectgathering with cordgathering with cordPinGathering with Cord

More Articles On Gathering

How to gather by machineHow to gather by handShirring (sewing with elastic thread)Gathering with a sergerHow to sew ruchingGathering with cordGathering with elasticHow to gather tulleGathering footGathering FabricRuffler

Gathering with Cord Step by Step Tutorial

When trying to gather thicker fabrics, sewing the usual way of 2 rows of long stitches and then pulling the bobbin threads just doesn`t work. More often than not, the threads will break as you try and pull them through thick or difficult fabrics. Gathering with cord works better as the cord won`t break when pulled and it is usually much faster.

Here are the steps to gathering with cord:

Step 1 – Zig-zag

Cut your cord at least 4 inches (10cm) longer than your fabric to be gathered.

Set your machine on a very wide zig-zag stitch. I like to use a width of 5.0 or 6.0 and a length of 3.0. Leaving a tail of 2 inches (5cm), start zig-zagging over the floss.

gathering with cord step 1gathering with cord step 1PinZig-Zag Over the Cord

Extra Tips for the Zig-Zag

Make sure you are stitching inside the seam allowance. Be extra careful not to catch the cord in your stitches and not to pull too hard. You don’t want the floss pulling through the end stitches. Leave a long tail at the end also.

Step 2 – Pull the thread

Secure one end by winding the cord in a figure-8 around a pin.

Then gently pull the cord. Knot the other end and trim the threads. Distribute the gathers evenly.

gathering with cord step 2gathering with cord step 2PinPull the Thread

Step 3 – Stitch in place

To hold the gathers in place, stitch over them with a straight stitch, backstitching at either end. Then remove your cord.

If some of the cord has been caught up in your straight stitching don`t worry. It will be hidden in the seam allowance anyway.

gathering with cord step 3gathering with cord step 3PinStitch in Place

TRY THIS TECHNIQUE ON: The Tutu Dress Sewing Pattern

tutu dress patterntutu dress patternPinTutu Dress Sewing Pattern

Easy wasn’t it? Do you have any extra tips or ideas for us? Share below. We’d love to learn from you.

gathering with cordgathering with cordPin

Gathering with Cord

Learn how to gather with cord for difficult and thick fabrics using a simple zig-zag stitch.

4.9/5 – (31 votes)

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Difficulty: Easy Beginner

Keyword: Sewing

Total Time: 10minutes


Sewing machineScissors


Thin Cord Thin crochet cord, dental floss or other smooth thin cord.


Cut your cord 4 inches (10cm) longer than the edge to be gathered. Set the sewing machine on a wide zig-zag stitch with a medium length. (Suggested – W5 L3)Leave a tail of 2 inches and zig-zag over the cord. Ensure you don't catch the cord in any of the zig-zag stitches. Secure one end with winding the tail around a pin. Gently pull the cord through the zig-zag tunnel to start gathering. Secure the gathering by stitching over the gathers.


See the full tutorial at

4.9/5 – (31 votes)