How to Gather Knit Fabric – Gathering with Elastic

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Learning how to gather knit fabric using elastic is a useful technique that is often used for stretch knit and Lycra fabrics. Gathering with elastic for ruffles and skirts means they maintain their stretch which is important for stretch knit clothing. This method also works well for woven fabrics where you need to create gentle gathers.

how to gather knit fabric, gathering with elasticPinHow to Gather Knit Fabric, Gathering with Elastic


How to Gather Knit FabricSupplies – Gathering with ElasticMore Articles On GatheringHow to Gather Knit FabricStep 1 – Cut Elastic Step 2 – Divide the Waist Step 4 – Match the MarksStep 5 – Stitch Over the ElasticHow to Gather Knit Fabric – In ConclusionMORE STRETCH FABRIC ArticlesMore Elastic Articles

How to Gather Knit Fabric

Gathering with elastic is so easy that you may not go back to traditional gathering methods once you have tried this even once!

If you used traditional gathering on a knit fabric skirt, you would find that the seam would not stretch and so it would be hard to get on. Knit garments usually have no zippers, buttons or openings so need to stretch to get over the head.

Using elastic to gather means the waist will stretch for you to get it on and no stitches will pop.

Supplies – Gathering with Elastic

¼ inch (6mm) wide clearelastic. (⅜ inch will work too but it is often firmer so doesn’t give the same result.)

Clear elastic is used since it is softer and less bulky than regular woven or braided elastic. If you do need to substitute regular elastic, make sure it is really soft and stretchy.

Here I will show you how I gathered this skirt bottom.

More Articles On Gathering

Here are 11 ways to gather fabrics:

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 footRufflerGathering FabricHow to Sew a Flounce

how to gatherhow to gatherPingathering with a sergergathering with a sergerPingathering by handgathering by handPingathering footgathering footPinrufflerrufflerPin

How to Gather Knit Fabric

Let`s start gathering with elastic

Step 1 – Cut Elastic

Cut a piece of elastic to the finished length your fabric will be gathered to. For example, if you are adding a ruffle or skirt to a bodice, you will cut the elastic to the circumference of the bodice.

How to Gather Knit Fabric with Elastic - MeasuringHow to Gather Knit Fabric with Elastic - MeasuringPinHow to Gather Knit Fabric with Elastic – Measuring

Stretch your elastic out a few times and double check the length. Cut a little off if necessary.

Step 2 – Divide the Waist

Divide your ruffle or skirt bottom in quarters and mark (This is easily done by folding). Divide your elastic in quarters and mark.

How to Gather Knit Fabric with ElasticHow to Gather Knit Fabric with ElasticPinHow to Gather Knit Fabric with Elastic – Divide

Step 4 – Match the Marks

Match the marks on the elastic to the marks on the fabric. The fabric will gather in between. You can pin the marks together or I find it easier to just stretch as I sew.

Leave a tail of about ¼ inch for you to grab hold of.

Step 5 – Stitch Over the Elastic

Using a zig-zag or straight stitch, secure the first end of the elastic by backstitching a few times.

Important: The elastic needs to be fully within the seam allowance so you don`t need to remove or unpick it once you have finished.

how to gather with elastic step 3how to gather with elastic step 3PinHow to Gather Knit Fabric with Elastic – Stretch Out

Stretching the elastic (not the fabric) between the marks, stitch over the elastic.  Leave a ¼ inch (6mm) tail at the end also. Overlap the ends slightly.

Note: You will find that the elastic stretches out just a little when you stitch over it so the slight length adjustment caused by the overlap will not matter.

gathering knit fabricgathering knit fabricPinHow to Gather Knit Fabric with Elastic – Finished

How to Gather Knit Fabric – In Conclusion

All done! Now you can continue with your knit fabric project. Do you use clear elastic to gather? Share your thoughts or extra tips below.

Try this technique

To gather the sleeves on the Elke DressTo gather the peplum on the Anthea Dress

gathering knit fabricgathering knit fabricPinExamples of Gathering with Elastic


Sewing Stretch Fabric without a SergerTypes of Knit FabricStretch Factor of FabricsHow to Gather Knit FabricSewing Stretch Fabric HemsHow to Sew Fold Over ElasticHow to use a SergerHow to Sew with a Twin NeedleLettuce Hems

Looking for More on Sewing Elastic

Learn all about sewing elastic for waistbands and fabric edges with this easy tutorial that will show you the best methods for various items.

More Elastic Articles

Types of ElasticHow to Sew Leotard ElasticSewing Fold Over ElasticHow to Gather Knit Fabric with ElasticSewing Elastic Thread – ShirringRuchingSewing Lingerie ElasticHow to Sew an Elastic WaistbandBinding Leotards and SwimsuitsSewing Elastic

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