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3 steps to gather with an overlocker

On our website, we suggest you sew a Ara collar version of  with a frou-frou, so you have to make gathers (find the pattern 👉 here).


We are going to show you here a method to make gathers with an overlocker in few time!


Usually, to sew gathers it is necessary to sew gathers threads with a sewing machine or by hand. Yes, I said, gathering threadS (with a S), so you don’t have to start all over again if one of the threads breaks in the process! 🙈

These threads need to be sewn loosely so you can pull on them to form the gathers. This process works well, but can be quite tedious if the length to be gathered is large.

If the fabric allows it, it is interesting to be able to make these gathers with an overlocker, saving time! You just need to set a few settings on the machine.


    • An overlocker 
    • A scrap of fabric to perform a test (better safe than sorry 😋)




Simply take the piece you wish to gather.
In the case of the Ara dickey, fold the frill piece wrong sides together as shown in the booklet and press to mark the fold.

Overlocker settings

  • 4-thread, so 2 needles
  • Stitch : overlock
  • Differential feed : highest number (e.g. : 2)
  • Stitch length : highest number (e.g. : 4)
  • Needle threads tension : highest number (e.g. : 8/9)
  • Looper threads tension : as recommended by the instructions for the sewn fabric

To sum up, you should pretty much set all the settings to the highest number.
As with sewing gathers on a sewing machine, the stitch length should be set to the maximum so there is no risk of breaking the thread and to keep some leeway once the seam is done to relax the gathers if necessary.
As for the differential, the maximum setting increases the speed of the rear feed in relation to the front feed, it is this setting that allows the gathering of the fabric.
Finally, the needle thread tension must be at maximum in order to create a stitch that is not loose.


1.1 Place the piece to be gathered under the presser foot and overlock.
Be sure to keep the piece parallel to the presser foot while letting the fabric move forward without forcing it so as not to undo the gathers that are forming.

1.2 Then adjust the length of the gathered piece to the size of the piece on which it is to be assembled. Logically, the adjustments specified below will allow you to obtain a gathering of about 60% (with a 100 cm long strip at the beginning you will obtain a 60 cm gathered piece). It is easily possible to lengthen the formed piece by reducing the amount of gathering. Otherwise, you can form new gathers by pinning the fabric.


Here is my starting strip, 46.5 cm long:

Once overlocked, the length of the strip is about 30.5 cm, or about 65% of the initial length.

Now you can gather at lightning speed!

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