Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Last Minute Gift with "gathering" tips!

Are you a last minute gift maker? 
I am!! 
There are still hand knit socks in production and someone may get a box of yarn but yesterday I was able to call my usually dormant clothing construction background into service and produce a cute (easy) little dress for my potential granddaughter.
My serger has been on-line all week as my housemate daughter is making mermaid and shark snuggle sacks for her nieces and nephews.   
I made a change of thread colors and set to work clean finishing and roll hemming a set of ruffles to jazz up a cute t-shirt.  Violet is 4 and the t-shirt dress will be a cute addition to her playschool wardrobe as she can use it over tights and a long-sleeve shirt or alone when the weather warms up.
I learned to make ruffles back in grade school by stitching parallel rows of machine basting and then pulling them up.  There were frustrations with this method, the most annoying being when the thread broke during the pulling up process. 
But I learned an easier and less frustrating technique when I was a Bernina sewing machine dealer.
This stash of saved string (from pet food bags) is just right!!
Presser foot #6 has a small hole in the front of it that is meant for a cord to be run through it.  By setting up a simple zigzag stitch (length 2.5 and width 5), you can zigzag over the string without catching it in the stitching.  I've learned not to use a longer stitch which seems faster but the ruffles aren't as tight and even.
I break the strings at the seams and begin a new piece -- it's easier to manage the gathering by doing this.  I mark four equal divisions on the bottom of the t-shirt and the edges of the ruffles to help distribute the fullness evening. 
After matching the four quadrants of the ruffle to the four quadrants of the t-shirt, it's time to pull on the strings from each end and gather up the fabric!
To keep the gathers in place while you adjust them, simply do a figure 8 wrap around a pin and now you can slide the gathers back and forth without losing them so the gathering is consistent.
I added two ruffles -- the deeper one is cut 6 1/2" and the shallower one is cut 3".  Once they were pinned to the lower edge of the t-shirt, I was ready to stitch everything together.  Getting them pinned in place takes the most time on this project.
Here they are, stitched on with my sewing machine.  To control all the ravels, I overcast all these layers together using the wider stitch on my serger.
Last step was a topstitch in contrasting yellow thread from the front to keep the ruffle from flipping up and a quick shake out. 
Here it is -- ready to wrap!!
Back to my knitting needles!!
Merry Christmas!!
Mary Huey


  1. Mary.....this is SOOOO CUTE! What a lucky girl to get this gift! Have a very Merry Christmas!!

  2. Just in time and so sweet! I was hoping for one more idea of something to make (quickly) for my first GD who is 6 months old and will be coming for Christmas. I have a couple cute t-shirts so I think I'll shop my stash and see what might spice them up a bit. I'm a little nervous about sewing regular cotton to knit fabric, but your example looks fine. Thank you Mary, for all of the inspiration this year. Happy holidays!

  3. Another great tip! I learned the same method that you were taught in grade school. Yep. Snapped thread from time to time.