I started this project by basting the first stitch and then gathering by hand, that did not work out so well, pretty much I ended with a broken string and a very angry face. I looked up my sewing machine and found what they call a gathering foot. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you do any large amount of ruffles, gathering for dresses or skirts buy one! mine was only $15. and my project went WAY faster than if I had done it by hand.
The lady at the store said there is also what is called a ruffling foot, which looks really complicated and way more expensive but it ruffles the fabric by pleating, so that could be interesting. For now I am as content as could be with this little baby. That was always my least favorite part of sewing was having to ruffle.
If you live in the Metro Area and you're interested in learning serging just let me know and I'll get you the info for the shop I went to. I have plans to go back this next Wednesday for Serging 2, I get to learn a ton of different stitches. Oh and the class was only $35 for 3 hours of teaching.