What Is the Difference Between Ruching and Gathering?

While they both involve manipulating fabric to create gathers or folds, there are distinct differences between the two. On the other hand, gathering involves creating larger, irregular folds in the fabric by pulling the thread and evenly distributing the gathering stitches, resulting in a softer, more flowing effect. When it comes to choosing the right thread for these techniques, Madeira Aerolock Premium Serger thread proves to be a reliable and durable option. This high-quality thread is specifically designed for use with serger/overlock and coverlock machines, such as the Janome CoverPro family, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. With it’s core-spun polyester construction, this thread can withstand frequent washes and strains, making it ideal for projects that require lasting strength. So whether you're creating ruching or gathering, trust in Madeira Aerolock Premium Serger thread to deliver superior quality and results.

What Does Gathered Mean in Sewing?

When it comes to sewing, understanding the terminology is essential. One term that often comes up is “gathered.”. In sewing, “gathered” refers to a technique in which fabric is pulled together using evenly spaced stitches, creating a slight ruffled effect. This technique is commonly used to add fullness to a garment or to create decorative trims.

To create gathering, you’ll need to use a contrasting thread, such as Madeira Aerolock Premium Serger thread. This top-quality thread is specifically designed for sergers and overlock machines and is guaranteed to withstand frequent washes and strains. Made of 100% core-spun polyester, this thread is strong and durable, ensuring that your gathered fabric stays in place.

To gather fabric, you’ll need to set your sewing machine to a long stitch length and a high tension. Starting at one end of the fabric, sew parallel lines of stitches, leaving long thread tails at each end. Next, gently pull the bobbin threads to gather the fabric, distributing the gathers evenly along the fabric. Once you’ve achieved the desired fullness, secure the stitches at each end by tying the thread tails together.

While gathering is a versatile technique, it shouldn’t be confused with ruching. Ruching involves the gathering of fabric in a more controlled and deliberate manner, often forming decorative accents or patterns on a garment. Unlike regular gathering, ruching is typically created using smaller stitches and tighter gathers, resulting in a more pronounced and intricate effect.

When it comes to fashion terms, shirred and ruched are often used interchangeably to describe a gathered or pleated appearance. However, there’s a subtle distinction between the two techniques. While shirring involves elasticized stitching to create horizontal gathers, ruching refers to the gathering of fabric through tight, parallel rows of stitching. Understanding this difference can help you achieve the desired look in your sewing projects. If you’re looking for a reliable thread that can withstand the demands of sergers and coverlock machines, the Madeira Aerolock Premium Serger thread is an excellent choice.

What Is the Difference Between Shirred and Ruched?

Ruching and gathering are two distinct techniques commonly used in sewing and garment construction. While they may appear similar, they’ve some key differences in terms of their application and visual impact.

Ruching involves creating decorative ruffles or pleats in fabric by gathering it together in a controlled manner. This technique is achieved by stitching several parallel rows of gathering stitches along a straight line and then pulling the thread to create the desired ruched effect.

On the other hand, gathering is a technique used to bring excess fabric together to create fullness or a gathered effect. It’s commonly used to add volume to skirts, puff sleeves, or gathering along waistlines or yokes. Gathering is achieved by stitching one or two rows of long, evenly spaced stitches, and then pulling and distributing the fabric along the threads to evenly gather the fabric together. Unlike ruching, gathering is typically used to create a softer, more flowing look.

Now, moving on to the difference between shirred and ruched, shirring involves creating rows of elasticized stitches in fabric to create gathered or smocked effects. This is usually done using elastic thread in the bobbin and regular thread on the top. Shirring is often used in the construction of elasticized waistbands, cuffs, or even entire garments like sundresses or swimwear. It creates stretch and a fitted yet comfortable look.

To achieve the best results when using ruching or gathering techniques, it’s important to select a suitable thread for your machine. Madeira Aerolock Premium Serger thread is an excellent choice, as it’s made of core-spun polyester, providing durability and strength. This thread is designed to withstand frequent washes and strain, making it perfect for sergers and coverlock machines like the Janome CoverPro family. With the right thread and technique, you can easily master the art of ruching and gathering, allowing you to add beautiful and unique details to your sewing projects.

Creative Ways to Incorporate Ruching and Gathering Into Your Sewing Projects

  • Creating ruched sleeves on a blouse
  • Gathering fabric to add volume to a skirt
  • Adding ruching to the bodice of a dress for a flattering fit
  • Gathering fabric along the waistline of pants for a stylish detail
  • Incorporating ruching into the neckline of a top for a feminine touch
  • Gathering fabric on the back of a jacket to create a unique shape
  • Adding ruched panels to the sides of a dress to create a slimming effect
  • Gathering fabric on the sleeves of a dress for a romantic look
  • Incorporating ruching along the hemline of a skirt for added texture
  • Gathering fabric on the shoulders of a top to create a trendy gathered sleeve
  • Adding ruching to the waistband of pants or shorts for a flattering fit
  • Gathering fabric along the neckline of a dress to create a draped effect
  • Incorporating ruched panels on the sides of a top for a unique detail
  • Gathering fabric on the waist of a dress to create a cinched-in effect
  • Adding ruching to the cuffs of sleeves for a stylish touch
  • Gathering fabric along the bust of a top or dress for added volume
  • Incorporating ruched panels on the front of a skirt for a flattering silhouette
  • Gathering fabric on the waist of a jumpsuit for a waist-defining look
  • Adding ruching to the straps of a dress or top for a delicate detail
  • Gathering fabric along the sides of a jacket to create a unique shape


In conclusion, understanding the difference between ruching and gathering is crucial for anyone interested in sewing and fashion design. Both techniques are valuable in creating unique and beautiful garments, and mastering them can elevate one's sewing skills to a new level. This thread's durability and strength ensure that the finished garments will withstand frequent washes and strains, offering a long-lasting and professional result.

Scroll to Top