The Best Way to Sew Even Gathers in Leather

Some of the most popular fabrics in sewing right now are vinyl and leather, which means most of us are eager to make everything out of them. That includes tricky patterns with elements gathered sleeves and front bodices.

Gathered Leather Moto Jacket

Sewing neat, even gathers, especially on sleeves and bodices, is easier said than done. Luckily, while making the Marmalade Jacket, I discovered a great way to create even gathers. Read on to learn this great trick!

Learn the best way to sew even gathered leather

The best way to create even gathers is to sew two lines of stitching — one on either side of the seam allowance — to hold the gathers in place. Unfortunately, vinyl and leather show every needle mark, making this impossible…unless you use this easy sewing hack!

Grab a roll of clear tape and get ready to make perfect gathers in leather with this unexpected solution.

Materials:

  • Clear tape
  • Thread
  • Binder or fabric clips
  • Seam ripper
  • A project finished up to the gathering portion as indicated in your instructions

Note: The leather/vinyl you use must be thin and pliable enough to create gathers. If it is too thick you may want to try a button or or a heavier thread to create your gathering seams. Always test your leather before beginning a project to avoid disappointment later on.

Step 1:

Stitch two gathering seams as directed by your pattern. Make sure they are INSIDE the seam allowance area — about 1/8″ apart. For example, if your seam allowance is ½” the gathering lines should be sewn at ¼” and 3/8″.

Stitch Gathering Stitches

Step 2:

Place your fabrics right sides together, matching the notches and marks on your leather in the area to be gathered. Place a clip at each notch. The leather to be gathered will be longer than the un-gathered portion.

Clip Leather to Prepare for Gathering

Step 3:

Gather the leather by pulling the threads until the area needing gathering is the same length as the un-gathered section. Make sure the gathers are distributed along the entire gathering area, but do not try to make the gathers even at this point — you only need to make sure the fabrics are the same length.

Gather Leather

Step 4:

Place a piece of clear tape over the gathers on the wrong side of your fabric. Make sure the center of the tape lines up with where the final seam will be. This will hold the gathers in place as you work with the leather and sew later on.

Tape Leather to prepare for gathering

Step 5:

Open the fabrics and fold back the un-gathered edge.

Taped Leather Ready for Gathering

Step 6:

Push the gathers around as needed to make them lay evenly over the clear tape. I found that the end of a seam ripper was helpful to push them side to side. As you work, un-stick and re-stick small portions of the clear tape. This will hold finished portions in place. (If desired, a second line of tape underneath the first can help hold the gathers in place even more securely.)

Creating Even Gathers in Leather

Step 7:

When you are satisfied with the gathering, stitch the seam as indicated in your pattern, leaving the clear tape in place as you sew. 

Leather Gathers Ready for Stitching7 Seam in Gathered Leather

Step 8:

Remove the tape once you have secured your seam. Check your work, re-tape and re-sew portions if needed. Once the gathers are perfect, remove the tape and continue sewing the rest of your project.

8 Gathering Leather - finished sample

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