If I ever, EVER, mention that I am attempting a project that requires gathering again remind me about this project, PLEASE! Between the cot valance and the maternity top, I have spent an estimated 10 hours with my quick-un-pick this week. In fact, I have spent so much time with it that I thought about giving it a name (isn't that sad).
I researched gathering techniques quite extensively before making a start on the cot valance and decided to go with a technique from an antiquated "Nursery Decor" book I picked up a few years back for $3.
Basically, the book advised that the easiest way to gather fabric was to take a piece of dental floss, set your machine to a wide zig-zag stitch and then zig-zag over the cord to trap it beneath the stitches (being careful not to pierce it). There is a tutorial on the Christine Sews website which shows how to gather fabric using this technique.
Once you have sewn the dental floss onto the fabric you wish to gather, you then pull the dental floss from both ends, pin the gathered material to the lining material at regular intervals, and join the two pieces together using a straight stitch. Sounds pretty easy hey? Well it wasn't.
The first problem I encountered was that the book stated to sew the dental floss 1 1/2 inches from the edge of the fabric. That possibly would have worked if your seam allowance was 1 1/4 inches, but I had allowed only for a 1/4 inch seam allowance. What this meant was, that when I sewed the fabrics together it didn't really look gathered - it look more 'tucked' (for want of a better word) as the fabric wasn't gathered enough where I was sewing. So I sewed around the valance pieces with dental floss again 1/2 an inch from the fabric edge. This worked a LOT better.
The second problem that I had was as a result of my own stupidity and the fact it was a 32 degree day. Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES I sewed one end of the valance to the lining backwards! In the end I said a few choice words, cut the lining in half, turned it over and sewed the two pieces back together again. I figured no one would ever see that anyway since it sits between the cot base and the mattress (luckily I hadn't sewn on the sides yet!):
The third problem was a direct result of the first problem. I had sewn around the valance twice using the dental floss technique, so that meant I had two rows of stitches (a total of 26 metres) to unpick!
Anyway, I am pleased to report that I washed the valance this afternoon and it didn't fall apart! In fact, I am actually really pleased with how it turned out and glad that I didn't just throw in the towel and buy one:
All up this project cost me about $6, so let's say that is a minimum saving of $14! Maybe I will find another project that only requires a small amount of gathering so I can build up my skills in this area, as the technique actually looks quite effective when finished.
Here is a link to the other post on the cot valance: