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Author Topic: Gathering/Pleats  (Read 5374 times)
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Rob Bruno
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« on: July 25, 2016, 05:42:58 AM »

I am still having a difficult time with gathering or pleating, in this case a sleeve into a cuff on my shirts.  I don't know how many shirts I have made, and I still struggle with the gathers.  I guess my first question, Is there a difference between gathering and pleats?  Or, are they basically the same thing.

I have used three strings spaced out on the edge of the sleeve to draw the gather together to attach the cuff.  Should I pin each gather to the cuff?  Meaning each place where the string pulls/puckers the material, I should pin there?  I look at original shirts and see those tiny gathers and I can't come even close to do that.  How did they make such small gathers?  I don't like really big gathers or pleats because I don't think that is as correct as the small ones, but I really have a hard time getting this part to look right. 

Any advice or techniques would be greatly appreciated.
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Rob
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2016, 08:49:16 AM »

Are you hand-gathering, or machine gathering? And if hand-gathering, how big a stitch are you taking? Many original shirts (and petticoats) use stroked gathers in which each individual gather does get whipped to the finished edge of the sleeve cuff (but not pinned individually first.)

Can you post a picture of your current gathers, and we can maybe diagnose and give suggestions?
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Elizabeth
Rob Bruno
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2016, 06:34:56 AM »

I hand gather the sleeves.  I sew three lines of thread with stitches that are about 1/4 inch apart.  I tried to go small with this shirt to try to make the gathers smaller.  Do you mean the gathers are whipped to the cuff, is that a temporary stitch till the cuff is attached? 
Thanks,
Rob
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Jessamyn
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2016, 01:25:58 PM »

I hate to say it, but 1/4" is very large stitches, unless you mean one stitch above the fabric and one below in a 1/4" span, which I would think of as two 1/8" stitches. For stroked gathers -- what you're mostly seeing on shirts of this period -- I use slightly smaller than 1/8" stitches. Two rows should do it, though.

After you run the gathering threads, draw them up evenly to the size of your cuff, and tether the ends. I like to wind the ends around a pin stuck perpendicularly through the material, because unlike making a knot you can adjust it if need be.

The you stroke the gathers -- literally stroke a pin across the gathers so that they line up neatly into evenly spaced flutes.

Then lay one edge of your cuff, with that edge folded under, onto your work, and whip through the valley of each flute and into the edge of the cuff.

Then you flip your work over, fold the other side of the cuff down to enclose the raw sleeve end completely, and whip through each valley on this side.

I think it's weirdly difficult to find a good tutorial on this on-line, but this may help somewhat:

http://zipzipinkspot.blogspot.com/2009/11/tutorial-making-stroked-gathers-on-mid.html
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2016, 02:41:59 PM »

My own findings are similar to Jessamyn's---the stroked gathers I see on period items have stitches that would be at the *most* 1/8" long each. Some period instructions mention things like "take up four threads, skip five threads"---that's a stitch length that is four threads of the weave long. Very tiny. Tiny stitches = loads of tiny gathers that look amazing. Work in good natural light.

The petticoat I'm working on right now has stitches that are about 1/16" each... so, 16 stitches per inch. This is not too tiny for period work, but feels miniscule compared to modern "basted gathering".

The gathering stitches are not always still present in extant garments; the whipping of each gather to the folded edge of the cuff is the permanent attachment.

Try some samples: work two rows of stitches, about 1/4" apart. The first should be within 1/8" or so of the edge, and the second 1/4" below it. The stitching intervals need to line up very well. Aim to make each stitch a scant 1/8" long, which will work out to between 8 and 10 stitches per inch, depending on how "scant" your "scant" is. Cheesy That's kind of the basic "big" end of gathering stitch size for the period.

About halfway along your sample, try taking two stitches in each 1/8" section. WHen you pull up the work, you'll see some very different results!

I'll try to grab some photos of what I'm working on.
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Elizabeth
Rob Bruno
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2016, 09:29:59 AM »

Thank you both for you advice.  I am trying to imagine the process in my mind with attaching the cuff.  I looked the link and it was helpful too.  I kind of need to see things when it comes to sewing to picture how to do it.  I do think  my stitches are too big compared to originals.  That has always been the frustrating part is I can't get it close to an original.  I will try the techniques you described in the next shirt which I hope to start in a couple weeks.

Another question, the tutorial is for a petticoat and I know less then zero about women's clothes.  But, would the size of the pleats be different on men's shirts because of the weight of the fabric?  Some of the nicer men's shirts I have seen where of linen.  I am working with cotton.  I have not looked at an original overshirt or heavier weighted mens shirts, but I am wondering if the gathers would have been that small.
Thanks,
Rob
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Micaila
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2016, 04:15:41 PM »

This post focuses on 18th century, but the technique is the same.

http://thegoldenscissors.blogspot.com/2015/05/stroke-gathers-first-steps.html

http://thegoldenscissors.blogspot.com/2015/05/stroke-gathers-gathering-stitch.html

http://thegoldenscissors.blogspot.com/2015/05/to-stroke-or-not-to-stroke.html

http://thegoldenscissors.blogspot.com/2015/05/stroke-gathers-finishing.html

The short answer is yes, the gathers should still be that small, even for a shirt.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2016, 04:25:51 PM by Micaila » Logged

Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2016, 05:34:12 AM »


Thanks for posting these links.  The big revelation, for me at least, is that the cuff should be sewn and turned under first.  Then the gathered sleeve is inserted into it and the gathers are individually secured with whip stitches.  Makes perfect sense as you have complete control over the gathers as you work.

I wonder how techniques changed, especially for mass-produced shirts, once the sewing machine came along? 
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2016, 01:56:17 PM »

The use of machines in manufactured shirts seems to coincide with a fashion for slimmer shirt sleeves, though, doesn't it? The more French Cut, shaped to the body, and slimmer sleeve into the cuff, compared to the squares-and-rectangles versions earlier.

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Elizabeth
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2016, 04:58:21 PM »

The use of machines in manufactured shirts seems to coincide with a fashion for slimmer shirt sleeves, though, doesn't it? The more French Cut, shaped to the body, and slimmer sleeve into the cuff, compared to the squares-and-rectangles versions earlier.


True, but there is still ease at the cuff, top of sleeves, and especially the front at the bottom of the bosom or placket.  There must have been a transition from elaborate hand-crafted gathers to something more like the modern shirring or "easing" techniques.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2016, 08:43:52 AM »

It makes sense that there is a transition; I just don't know enough about men's shirts through and beyond mid-century to have a sense of when/why/how. Hypothesis: as machining with a lock stitch becomes dominant, drawing up lock stitch bobbin thread for "easing" may also come in. I wonder if the transitions are different for women's things due to the continue volume of women's clothing that doesn't allow for a lot of machine-gathered fullness until a bit later?
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2016, 04:13:11 PM »

Hypothesis: as machining with a lock stitch becomes dominant, drawing up lock stitch bobbin thread for "easing" may also come in.


One thing I've noticed in sewing with antique machines is the thread tension is easily set much higher than modern ones.  My Singer 12 (designed 1863, built in 1882) will gather all by itself if the operator sets a long stitch length.  This can be a problem, but it's also a feature you can use if gathering is desired.

I'll have to do some searching to see if I can find the earliest patent date for a gathering foot..
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