E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Gathers (g hard).
Out of gathers. In distress; in a very impoverished condition. The allusion is to a womans gown, which certainly looks very seedy when out of gathersi.e. when the cotton that kept the pleats together has given way. (Anglo-Saxon, gader-ian, to gather, or pleat.)