One of the most common skills in sewing is knowing how to make even gathers. I love gathers but getting them to look even can be a challenge. Last night I discovered a neat trick to make this process easier. I'm going to start at the beginning in case there are people reading this who haven't gathered before. You should have marked your fabric with the gathering marks when you transferred the markings from your pattern where the area to be gathered is often marked by circles. They are the black x's on my fabric.
Next stitch between these marks. You need to use a long stitch length (I used 4 here) and sew two lines - one at 1/4" and one 3/8" in from the edge of your fabric. Make sure you leave long tails at both ends otherwise you won't be able to pull the fabric together.
Keeping the tails free, pin your pieces of fabric together at the ends. Next, gather the excess fabric by pulling gently on the tails, one end at a time. You'll see the fabric gather among the stitches.
Now for the tip. Place a pin where the tails begin (the red pins) and wrap the tail threads around them in a figure of eight.
This will hold them neatly and securely while you move the excess fabric among the stitches until they are even.
Continue to sew in your preferred manner by basting the gathers in place and then machine stitching or just machine stitch.
I'll definitely be using this every time I have to gather!