One of the reasons that someone buys a serger, is to take advantage of all of its time saving capabilities. Did you know that Janome offers many additional accessories, that fit our sergers, to do just that? Today I want to tell you about my new favourite: the Gathering Attachment.
Ok, raise your hand if you *hate* running two lines of basting stitches in order to gather up some fabric. Anyone? Just me? I’m sure I’m not the only one who is short on time and needs to multitask as much as possible. The gathering attachment installs on the front of your serger, and allows you to have join two pieces of fabric, while gathering one of them, at the same time! It’s a game changer for sure. Want to know how to use it? Keep reading 😉
First, you need to attach the accessory to your machine. Go ahead and open the door on the left part of the serger. Right in the front, you will find a screw that seems to be there for no reason. It really does have a reason lol: this is the exact spot to attach it (and other attachments).
When the part is installed correctly, this is what it looks like:
Next is to adjust the stitch length and differential feed on the right side of the machine. The length of the stitch does actually make a difference in the fullness of the gathers that are created.
I started out with using a stitch length of 5, with 2.0 as the differential. I knew I wanted as many gathers as I could possibly get! You may find that the seam sewn with the stitch length that long isn’t as strong as it could be, depending on the end use of your creation. I decided to try two settings, one at 5, and another one set to 2.5.
When you are playing with settings like these, it’s always a good plan to be somewhat methodical with it. I’m actually making myself a swatch book, that is labelled with all of my different samples and the settings I used, like tension, length and thread. That way when I need to do something specifically, I have saved time by already knowing what settings to use.
I like to start off by using strips of scrap fabric that has been marked with 10″ showing. That way it’s easier to calculate the percentage of additional fabric that I need for the gathered layer. Once you have your fabrics marked, you can put them into the serger.
Swing the arm out away from the feed dogs and place your fabric to be gathered under the foot, right side up. Then place the flat fabric on top, right side down. Leave your differential at 1 and sew until you get to your first mark. Then lift up the top fabric, and swing the arm back between the layers.
Now you can increase your differential back up to 2, and continue sewing. I find it helpful to hold the top fabric with my right hand, and the bottom fabric with my left so that I can keep them straight while sewing the seam.
Before you know it, your seam is finished and you can see how beautiful your gathers are. After I sewed the seam, I measured to see what the gathered fabric ended up as.
As we can see, both swatches ended up pretty close. The top swatch (stitch length 5) finished at 5.5″ long. The second swatch (stitch length 2.5) ended up at 6″ long. So what do we do now? Well, it’s time to do some math. We need to calculate how much extra fabric our gathered fabric needs so that both of our pieces of fabric match up at the beginning and the end. It’s pretty simple: Take your length of the un-gathered fabric – 10″ – and divide it by the finished length of the swatch – 6″ – to find out. The answer is 1.67. So if I want to match up a gathered strip to a flat strip of 10″, then I need 17″ of fabric to gather.
It worked!! The white marks indicate my two different lengths of the strip calculated with my math equation. (Who knew I would actually use this stuff in real life ?!) Now I know that when I want to make gathers, I can just multiply my flat length by 1.67, as long as my stitch length is 2.5 and the differential is set to 2.0.
Now I know that I won’t run out of fabric, thus saving me even more time. Time that I can use to make yards and yards of ruffles!! You may be asking though, what was the point of this? Coming soon to the Inspire tab on our website will be a gorgeous apron tutorial, with gathers created with this very method! Keep your eyes peeled, it’ll be the perfect spring project.
Until next time,