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Written by Julia Mulcair on February 10, 2023

Sewing the Perfect Summer Dress, Adventures with a Gathering Foot

I was perusing the accessories catalogue recently and noticed there was a gathering foot, a very useful tool if you ask me! With two little girls there is a lot of gathering of fabric that happens in my sewing. I wanted to make a summer dress with tiers of gathered cotton and the gathering foot provided the perfect tool to play with.

The construction of this dress was pretty simple, a self-drafted bodice, with tiers to form the skirt. Here's what I used:

  • 30cm of 140cm wide fabric for the bodice and straps
  • Tier 1 15 x 100cm (cut 2)
  • Tier 2 15 x 140cm (cut 2)
  • Tier 3 15 x 140cm (cut 3)

All my fabrics used are lovely Liberty Tana lawn from Pitt Trading

summer dress 2

My top tips for using a gathering foot....

*Stitch a sample first, every fabric will behave a little differently, so stitch a sample so you know what you're dealing with

*Place the right sides of the fabric together, the top fabric is threaded through the gathering foot. 

*Play around with your stitch length to achieve your desired amount of gathering. I used a 4.5 stitch length which gathered the frill to around half the original length of the fabric

*Sew your gathers first while your skirt is flat and sew the centre back or side seam last.

*Gathering is not always exact! so trim off any excess

pfaff creative 3.0 gathering

I added some cotton trim to the joins for a little extra detail, which really elevated this project

adding trim to the dress

The gathering foot eliminates the need to sew rows and rows of gathering stitch and pull up the threads, making life a little easier!

finishing summer dress

Until next time, happy sewing

Julia x

Article written by Julia Mulcair
Julia Mulcair is the owner of Pitt Trading, an Australian online fabric store and the lingerie society, a monthly subscription service for lingerie sewers. She grew up around fabric, and has been sewing for 30 years. Julia focuses on garment sewing, with a particular love of lingerie making. She shares her makes on Instagram and YouTube and is always working on the next lingerie design!

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