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Gathering formula
Specialty Feet
Miss N
Miss N
Minnesota USA
Member since 9/27/12
Posts: 20
Skill: Intermediate
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Subject: Specialty Feet Date: 10/5/12 11:00 PM

I just purchased a gathering foot for my Viking SM. Can anyone offer a mathmatical formula to gauge what setting to use to go from the original length & ending at the correct gathered length? I spent more time trying to figure it out than it would have taken me to gather the traditional method and it's nearly impossible to pick out if you get it wrong. Please advise.
-- Edited on 10/5/12 11:07 PM --
katlew03  Friend of PR
Florida USA
Member since 1/4/08
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Date: 10/6/12 0:31 AM

I usually do it the easy way and allow extra fabric in the strip I am gathering. I have tried to determine what settings to use to get a 2:1 ratio and it works sometimes but not other times. I then pin the strip to the garment to within about 6 inches of the end and cut off the excess and finish the ends by either hemming them or sewing the two ends together (tiered skirt and finishing the seam), then pinning the last part and sewing everything.

Sewn in 2012: 176.212 yds.
Total sewn in 2013 -- 225.848 yds.
Total sewn in 2014 -- 143.255 yds.
Total yards in inventory 1/1/16 -- 1857.086
Goal for 2016 -- 400 yards

Machines: Designer Diamond, #1+, H Class 100Q, Viking 400, Brother XR65 -- Serger: 936 -- Singer Coverstitch

Member since 10/30/10
Posts: 3525
Skill: Advanced Beginner
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thumbsup 1 member likes this.

Date: 10/6/12 11:44 AM

I have an answer, probably one you don't want to hear, but I will share it anyway.

For small things, sometimes it may just be easier to manually gather. But, the more you use your foot, in time you will be able to gauge it much faster. It is just one of those things that has a learning curve unfortunately. But, it is a beautious thing when you can do beautiful gathers or tucks and join in one step.

I went to a 2 seminars on gathering feet and gathering at our recent Creative Stitches Seminar. I asked a similar question in both: How do you set your feet/machine to get the ratio you want?

The answer I got is that you have to play with it BEFORE you sew, especially if you are using the foot to gather and join at the same time.

The reason, in part, is because fabrics are different weights, textures, tightness of weave and so forth and what will be a 2:1 for one fabric won't be for another. As well, every machine is different. (The machine won't matter as much if you are always using the same foot on the same machine. But apparently some people will frequently use a different machine for gathering. Once you switch machines you will need to tweek.)

Debra Justice of Labours of Love of Heirloom Sewing Supplies (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) was on the the session facilitators. She gave this tip for any kind of gathering foot to get the result you want.

Take a 10 strip of your fabric, a good 2 or more inch width (for weight) is better. Gather it and then measure lenght again; adjust accordingly. For example if you want a 2:1 ration then you want your gathered stip to be 5 inches. Repeat as needed. Once you have the ratio you want then use the foot to gather and join.

Here is another way of doing it if you want to keep the math simple and you want, say 2.5 ratio instead. You could keep your 10 inch strip and divide 10 by 2.5 which would mean that you have a 4 inch finished strip.

On some fabrics, a stip that short may not give you the confidence that the machine/foot will actually sew that ratio for the lenth you need. For example, if you are using fabrics with an usual texture or weave you might want a much longer strip to see how the gather works in areas that have a different texture than the rest of the fabric. For example, certain home decore fabrics might have slubs in them or areas where the weave uses heavier threads. Or you might have a cotton that has been heavily imbellished (ie swiss dots or eyelets). In these instances, I think I might want to work with a longer strip to see how the gathering behaves over a longer stip.

If so, then figure out the stip length you need. Take the finished length of the strip you want to measure and multiply that by your needed ratio. Say you want to measure a for a 6 inch finished strip and you wanted a 2.5 ratio. Then 2.5 X 6 = a 15 inch long strip you need to start with. If you wanted a 12 inch finished peice then it is 2.5 x 12 = 30 inch strip.

You might want to jot down the settings you used for that fabric and use that as the starting point next time you want to gather and the fabric is similar.

BTW - Debra Justice, IMHO, is a great facilitator so if you ever get the chance to attend one of her seminars - do not hesitate!

HTH or at least gives you hope that if you play with the foot enough it will become very helpful and useful for you. Sorry there isn't a quick fix.... I was looking for that too.
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