Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gathering Fabric & Muslin Pillow Tutorial...

I have received many emails lately asking if I might create a tutorial on how I gather fabric. I've used this gathering technique on a number of pillows that I've created recently -- like the pillow I made Monday (below).

Some people call this technique "gathering." Others call it "ruching." It's probably more accurate to call what I do on these pillows gathering, because ruching can also imply "pleating" or "laying in creases."

There are different ways to gather fabric. Many people swear by sewing machine attachments that do the job. I'm not going to rate the easiest or quickest way to gather fabric. I'm merely going to show you how I get the job done. I will attempt to give some basic steps on gathering techniques. I'll also throw in the process for how to make the front of the pillow above. There are a bazillion tutorials on the internet on how to put a pillow together, so I'll let the experts teach you how to finish the pillow by connecting the front of a pillow to the back!

There are two main things one needs to remember when gathering fabric:

1.) A good rule of thumb is to allow 2 ½ times the finished length for the piece of fabric you want gathered. A gathered piece of fabric that does not have enough fullness will end up looking skimpy and as if it has tucks rather than even gathers.

2.) Even, uniform gathers look best. It's best if gathers do not have folds of fabric mixed with flat fabric. The gathering should be evenly spaced.

For the front of the pillow, you will need the following cuts of fabric:
  • Top & bottom gathered panels: Two pieces of fabric 4.5 inches x 45 inches
  • Middle panel: One piece of fabric 8 inches x 18 inches
Back Panel: This amount of fabric will depend on how you are finishing the back. If you are merely making a solid panel back, filling the pillow with stuffing, and then slip stitching it shut the panel of fabric should measure 15 inches x 18 inches.

  • Note: The two "gathered panel" lengths are 2.5 times longer (45 inches) than the middle panel length, which is 18 inches. If your fabric is only 44 inches wide, then just cut the gathered panels to be 44 inches long. One inch will not make any difference.
  • All seams are 1/2 inches, unless otherwise noted.

Gathered panels:
1.) Sew a basting stitch (the longest stitch your machine will allow) along the length of both sides of each 4.5" x 45" panel 3/8" from edge. Don't snip the ends of the basting threads short as you will need them long in order to gather the fabric.

2.) Run another basting stitch along the length of both sides of each 4.5" x 45" panel 5/8" from the edge.

3.) You should have two 4.5" x 45" panels that look like this:

4.) To facilitate even gathers "divide" and mark the length of these gathered panels into four equal sections. See photo below. Mark quarter sections with a pen line being careful not to make the lines any longer than 3/8". (Pins are there to show the marked lines more easily.)

Middle Panel:
5.) Divide and mark with a pen the length of the middle panel the same way you did the gathered panels into four equal sections.

Gathering and attaching the gathered panels:
6.) On the wrong side of one 45" long panel, take the top two basted threads and pull those threads to gather fabric. Carefully pull threads, then ease gathered fabric toward the middle of the panel while holding the two threads tightly in your hand.

7.) Align the middle mark on your 45" gathered panel with the middle mark on your 18" middle panel and pin.

8.) Continue gathering fabric. Work one side of the fabric toward the center and then the other side of the fabric toward the center. Make sure all pen lines meet and pin. Short ends of panels will align. Gathers should be uniform and even. Pin gathered panel to middle panel.

9.) I always anchor the ends of my basting threads around the pin on the end of the fabric to hold it secure, like this:

10.) Change the stitch on your machine from the basting stitch to the regular setting. Sew seam 1/2" from edge. The needle should be running in between both basting lines.

11.) Remove 5/8" basting line which now shows on the right side of the fabric and press seam toward middle panel. Topstitch over seam and along edge of gathers on middle panel.

12.) Repeat Steps 1 - 11 with second 45" panel and attach to the other side of the middle panel.

13.) Attach front of pillow to back using the same gathering techniques you used to attach the gathered panels to the middle panel. (Gather, align pen marks, pin, sew.)

As I said there might be easier or faster ways to gather, but this way creates luscious, full gathers, and I have found it to work well. Please let me know if you make any items using this technique. I'd love to know if the tutorial was helpful!


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Woo Hoo! Wednesday @ Always Nesting

98 comments:

Fawnda said...

This pillow is BEAUTIFUL! I love it! GReat job! : )

Cottage Dreamers said...

Great tutorial! I love this pillow and the roses too (another great tutorial!)
☺ Celeste

Frugal Home Designs said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I love this pillow. I will have to attempt one when I bust out the sewing machine.

Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage said...

Thanks for a great tutorial! That is the way I make gathers so it must be right...LOL! I am no seamstress but this is the way I was taught to do it..

Katie said...

Love it! Great tutorial!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Thanks for sharing this How To! I actually have a ruffle in mind for a table runner I want to make for my dining room, with a just right length of fabric sample. I think the ruffle will finish off the ends nicely.

Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage said...

I love this pillow!! So beautiful!It's very generous of you to give a tutorial. But I think you should also carry some in your Etsy shop for us non-sewers!

I'm so glad I helped you out by showing that paint formula on my blog. :)

Lisa said...

You do INCREDIBLE work! I am totally in love with this pillow. I gave up sewing a longggg time ago, but this really makes me wanna dust off the old machine and give it a go again. Thanks for the refresher.
Lisa

Always Nesting said...

Woo Hoo! Now this is an awesome tutorial. I love all the detailed information. I'm definitely a "can't give me too much detail" kind of hacker sewer. I'm so glad you linked to Woo Hoo! Wednesday and joined the party!

Chris said...

Thank you for sharing your technique. It's so nice to see how you accomplished your pillow.
Have a lovely day.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Suzanne, what patience you have. And you do such a stunning job of making these pillows.

I think that I used to drive my Grandmother nuts, when she was teaching me how to sew. Not having the patience, or the dedication, my gathers where always rather one sided, or bunched up. Now,years later, I can still hear her voice in my head, telling me how to do it properly.

Now when I sew, I do a better job, to honor her memory, and to prove to myself that yes, I can do it well.

Jen

Megan @ Megity's Handmade said...

LOVE! Bookmarking this for sure!

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Love this pillow and it makes me want to learn to sew. My mother and grandmother were both professional seamstress. Both tried to teach me to sew but it just isn't in the genes. Thanks for you visit and sweet note left on my yard sale finds.

southerninspiration said...

Gorgeous pillow. I know I could do it, but I'm not sure I have the time right now. I love it, though.

Suzanne

kirstin & jordan said...

Ooooh, this is fabulously useful! I haven't ever gathered fabric except when I'm making ruffles, but I love the final product... I will definitely have to try this soon!
We have a Friday Fun Finds party (on Fridays, of course)... If you're interested, we'd love it if you'd link up this week!

Casey said...

what an awesome pillow! I've bookmarked it so I can make it after I move

Kayla Danelle Anderson said...

Oh lala!! I've been waiting for you to post a tutorial like this! :) I LOVE your pillows and want to make a couple for my bed. Thank you SO much for posting this! I'll link up to you whenever I get around to making them.

Anne Fannie said...

Suzanne, you are so awesome! Your tutorial is so detail, great pictures and instructions....I bet I could even do it! LOL Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful talent!
Hugs, Ann

lifeologia said...

I want to do this pillow. You make it look fairly easy to pull off. I never knew you could gather fabric this way.
Thanks.

BLJ Graves Studio said...

A beautiful pillow and a fabulous tutorial. I can't wait to give this a try. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Alisa said...

This is my first time on your blog and I have to say that I think this is one of the sweetest pillows I've ever seen. So girly, but understated all at the same time. LOVE IT!!!

kim said...

I love that pillow. I have a pillow addiction anyway. I just got a new sewing machine and will practice some easier projects before I move on to this. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. That pillow is gorgeous.

Tammy@ A Doctor in the House said...

Beautiful pillow! I'm afraid I'd just have to buy one ready made. No seamstress. You certainly have talent.

MiaKatia said...

This is my favorite pillow yet! So perfect. I know you have taught me this before, but I love a visual step by step.

Jan @ bobbypins boardwalk said...

...and it creates one gorgeous pillow. I don't think I've seen a style anything like this. Beautiful. Thank you for linking your project to the Boardwalk Bragfest! Now we will all make one!!

Jenni said...

All of the things you make are beautiful and classy....just like you! xoxo!

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

This is so cool Suzanne. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us!

Merrie said...

This is the best tutorial ever! So it's sort of like its a ruffle, ruffled on both edges. (thats how this brain works) Just when I was hoping that you were also including a tutorial on the roses, I saw them in your sidebar.
This I can do. Ruffle a ruffle and roll a strip. Woohoo! I love it! Thank you!!!!

Michelle @ Sweet Something said...

Just beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Kendra Goodrich said...

I love it! I'm going to have to try this one.

Elissa said...

Thanks for the excellent tutorial! I might just have to try and make one now!

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

amazing. thank you so much. qNow this is a boggin gal I must follow.

hugs
Sonny

Mary Beth @ Live. Laugh. Make Something said...

What a pretty pillow! so charming! great tutorial, too!

Crystal said...

I love the pillow and wish I had seen it yesterday! I have been looking for pillows I love and decided to just go with ruffles. Now wishing I had made yours instead....always a day late...lol.

Amber said...

oh my gosh this is BEAUTIFUL! I wish I could sew!

Kat @ Black Kats Design said...

You were caught being creative and featured on Black Kats Design Fab Friday Favorites. Stop on by and grab a button to show off!

Kat @
Black Kats Design

Tina said...

What an awesome tutorial Suzanne!! I love this pillow, thank you for sharing how to make it:)~ Tina xx

Bobbie said...

That is a great idea! I have a link party today at www.iamonly1woman.blogspot.com and would love it if you could stop by

Kathy said...

I went to your etsy shop -hoping I could snag one of these adorable birdie pillows. --Do you think that will be something you will stock?

Stephanie Lynn said...

This is simply gorgeous! You did an amazing job and I love that you used burlap - the texture is great. Would love to have you stop by the Sunday Showcase Party if you get a chance ~ Hope you are enjoying your weekend! Thanks so much for posting your tutorial I would love to try this!

Room to Inspire said...

I am so glad you linked this up to Be Inspired last week. I am planning on pulling out my sewing machine soon - this might have to be on my list of projects to "try" and make!

Chelsea

Ashlee said...

I love this pillow! And I just got a ruffler foot for my machine. I'll have to try it out! Just beautiful!

Rory said...

Hi,
I followed you over from the Life As Lori link party. I am now a follower of yours. I would really love it if you stopped by and visited me too. Be sure to enter the drawing if you do. Keep up the good work. Rory http://toolsareforwomentoo.blogspot.com/

The White Farmhouse said...

I just love this pillow. I was hoping that the tutorial included how to make the flowers too. I am planning on using this idea for a throw pillow for my bed. Now to find the perfect fabric!

Fawnda said...

Just wanted to let you know that I featured you here:

http://firefliesandjellybeans.blogspot.com/2010/04/mothers-day-ideas-from-readers.html

Jaime @ Our Journey said...

Wow! That's gorgeous!! I've added your post to my "Inspirational Projects" list on my sidebar! Your pillow is on my "to do" list!

Jaime
www.theclayfamilyblog.blogspot.com

Sweet Bee Cottage said...

Oh this is so impressive to me and so beautiful. Maybe I'll get my dear mom (the Sewing Bee) to see if she wants to try to help me. Your pillow is just gorgeous. Thank you so much!

Lynn said...

I love your pillows, I just signed up to follow your blog. I used to sew everything but haven't sewed in quite awhile. These pillows make me want to start tonight!!

AtOneWithHim said...

I know very very little about sewing or sewing machines. I have 2 old sewing machines one is a Kenmore and the other a Singer(63)both are the all metal kind with not many bells or whistles. I wonder how I could learn to sew on them. I don't really want to buy a new one that comes with lessons. Anybody know of easy peasy books or something? Let me know.

Thanks.
Desperate to Sew

PRYOR said...

Thats one awesome looking pillow! Thanks for the tips!

Sara @ Girly Girlz Bows said...

Headed to the fabric store to make me 2 of these for our living room. Thanks for the tutorial and inspiration!!

Julie said...

Wonderful! I'd love for you to check out Flower Week @ Singing Three Little Birds.
http://singingthreelittlebirds.blogspot.com/2010/05/flower-week-linky-party.html

Jenny said...

I totally love this pillow! Thanks for the tutorial

I found you on childmade

http://iheartjennysart.com

Farah said...

Oh great one, really love it, and very different pattern, I am going tomake it soon and post on my blog with the special thanks to you..Love

Its my blog and I want you to join it... and I hope all of you encourage me
to make it more better and share it with me.. Love

http://craftaworld.blogspot.com/

sweetjeanette said...

That is an absolutely gorgeous pillow!!! I love it. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

jeanette from www.sweetjeanette.com

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

Beautiful pillow. I kinda figured how you did it, but I give you credit for actually doing it. Getting the ruffles equal is a challenge!!

Kristy said...

Love this pillow. That is a great tutorial. :) But for the uncrafty like me, I would love to buy it (as well as other pillows) from your etsy shop.

casserole said...

That is SO pretty!!! I love the texture of the gathered fabric!

I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-gathered-muslin-throw-pillow-with-rolled-fabric-rosettes/2010/06/16/

--Anne

Brenbren said...

Gorgeous! I love it!

**Amy** said...

Absolutely beautiful! I have been wanting to make a pillow for my daughters bed. I think I just found it! LOVE it!

Mayzie said...

I LOVED making this pillow! It looks a lot harder then it really is (I'm a newbie when it comes to sewing..) but I really loved sewing this! The end product was even better then I imagined! I posted my version at

daisy-head-mayzie.blogspot.com

Anneliese said...

I love this pillow! So beautiful. I need to figure out the perfect sofa or bed for it to adorn--perhaps in my new baby's nursery. Thanks for the tutorial.

Seeker said...

S-W-O-O-N!

Rockin' tutorial as well :)

Maddie said...

I'm in LOVE with this pillow! I'm so glad I found your blog, your attention to detail in all the projects I've looked at is simply impeccable. Fantastic work! I look forward to seeing all your future projects :)

Jessica said...

looks awesome. I love the rosettes for detail.

Sharon@thisthriftyhouse said...

This is truly Beautiful! Great job!

Donene said...

I love this pillow! What a great technique!

Julie said...

Thanks for the awesome tutorial. I just finished making one!

La Maison Reid said...

Hi...thought for sure I had lefrt a comment on your beautiful pillow before but I guess not! I bookmarked it quite some time ago and hope to make one soon. In the meantime, I found someone who made a grey one and posted it here:
http://www.greyumbrella.com/2010/08/ruched-pillow.html#disqus_thread There is a link back to you there (sort of) that I thought you might look at!
xoxo
Nancy

billiemonster said...

This pillow is so lush and expensive looking! Wow. I love it. I'm your newest follower! www.billiemonster.com

Amy said...

I'm commenting all over the place on your blog tonight! Sorry- guess I'll just have to become a follower ;) I tried to make a pillow with similar gathers- yours is much richer looking!
http://amerooniedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-pillows.html

JessicaSews said...

Wanted to leave a thank you for this post and how to make the rosettes - Very Pretty!

Brandi said...

Hi I'm visiting from the CSI project! YOUR PILLOW IS GORGEOUS! I love your blog too! I'm so excited to be a new follower!

Tanya said...

Very feminine and pretty!

KirbiKnop said...

Visiting from CSI...This is absolutely PERECT and adorable!! Great job!!!

Robin said...

I'm smitten with this pillow! The design is feminine but the fabric has a rough texture...brilliant!
xoxo
Robin
All Things Heart and Home

Julie said...

Very professional look. I love it! Stopping by from CSI.

Amy said...

Gorgeous!

Sanditerese said...

Love it! I can't wait to make one.

Princess Danell said...

I love this pillow. I just purchased a load of muslin. Thanks for sharing this beautiful idea.

Shorty said...

I love your blog and this tutorial! just found you through The Blog Guidebook! Congrats on being nominated.

tiramisu said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. I created so cute Christmas presents-pillows to my friend:
http://radikal.ua/data/upload/05615/6895e/ba1a48d7d6.jpg

Brenna said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I made one out of muslin that was really cute, but I wasn't as thorough as I should have been. I made another out of a damask fabric that I LOVE! But the damask makes it hard to see the gathers. Oh well, I'll be making many, many more of these that will show off the great gathers.
http://lifeofamormonhousewife.blogspot.com/2010/12/pillows.html

MariaT said...

Thank you for posting this. I am just starting out crafting and sewing and I love the look of this!

Rebecca said...

i L.O.V.E. this pillow. Thank you so much for the tutorial, i can hardly contain my anxiousness to make it.

Jill said...

Love this pillow! I made two in pink, with a slightly different material. Thank you for the tutorial! Pics can be seen at my blog!

trophyw.blogspot.com said...

Love this. It's on my "to'-do" list. I'll link back when I make it.

Terri Weston said...

Very Shabby Chic Romantic!! Thanks for sharing the tutoial. Beautiful!

Shruti said...

Absolutely loved this pillow! I'm off to make one for myself or my partner in the PTS swap on Flickr...

Ty and Whitty said...

Love love love love love a million times. Thank you so much for sharing. I am pinning this and will hopefully attempt to make it. Thank you for sharing. Come say hi! I love new followers.

A mommy's life...with a touch of YELLOW
tyandwhitneyulrich.blogspot.com

~ Sarah ~ said...

This is so amazing. I'm going to try it out right now. Thank you so much for the great tutorial!

I'll be sure to post pictures at my blog www.sarahstruss.blogspot.com when it's finished.

Thanks again!!

Kathy C. said...

Lovely! I am making all new pillows for my living room and have made 2 in the last few days. Today, I'm making this one! It's adorable. :) Thanks for the idea!

Kathy C. said...

Suzanne,

I made this pillow this morning! What a fun, cute pillow...thanks for the tutorial. I put a photo of it, and a link to your blog on my FB page... Bluebirds Nest (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluebirds-Nest/102848026481629#!/)

Blessings!
Kathy C.

lovecrafts said...

So cute! thanks for sharing.

The Crafted Sparrow said...

Just wanted to let you know that I featured these throw pillows today at my DIY Throw Pillow round up.
http://thecraftedsparrow.blogspot.com/2012/04/15-great-ideas-for-diy-throw-pillows.html#more

Liz@Craftbaby said...

This is gorgeous! Love the simple fabric - and girlie details. You should definitely enter it into Craftbaby's DIY Throw Pillow contest: http://www.craftbaby.com/contests/9/diy-throw-pillows-sweeps

TulangKaruk said...

Hi, I put this tutorial on my facebook fanpage n used the picture of your pillow n directed them tothis post....I've put your remark too. I've just started that page n gathering all my fav tutorial. I hope you don't mind...:)

here's the direct link to that post.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=217197451742059&set=a.217196935075444.48000.217173038411167&type=3&theater

Thanks in advance...^_^

Gt Bah said...

Thank you so much for the great instructions. I will be making this!
goodtobeathome@blogspot.com