Sunday 15 April 2012

How to Sew Ruffles...

Nothing makes an outfit more girlie than ruffles!!! Today I'll show you how to add a ruffle to a dress or skirt.

Measure the bottom front of the skirt from one side seam to the other side seam. You will need a strip of fabric twice this measurement for the front ruffle and a second for the back. If you don't want a seam in the ruffle, cut the strip four times the front measurement. The front of my dress measures 18" from one side seam to the other side seam, so I cut two strips of fabric 36" long; one for the front and one for the back. If you don't want seams in your ruffle, cut one strip 72" long. I made my strips 6" wide.

Twice the skirt measurement give nice, full ruffles, as in the photo above. If you are after a different effect, vary the measurements.

If you have used two pieces of fabric for the ruffle, join the short ends with two seams to form a long tube. If you have one piece of fabric you will have one seam. I used french seams, but you can do an ordinary seam and then neaten.

To make the ruffle, you are going to gather the fabric. There are various ways to make gathers. Here's how I do it.

Gathering stitches:
  • Set your machine to the longest straight stitch (machine basting stitch)
  • Do NOT backstitch and leave the threads hanging.
  • Sew a row of stitching 1/4" from the edge, going from one side seam to the second side seam.
  • Sew a row of stitching 1/4" from the edge, going from the second side seam back to the first side seam.
  • Sew a second row of stitching 3/8" from the edge, going from one side seam to the second side seam.
  • Sew a second row of stitching 3/8" from the edge, going from the second side seam back to the first side seam.

Pin ruffle to skirt:
  • Mark the centre front and centre back of the dress.
  • Mark the centre front and centre back of the ruffle.
  • With right sides together, pin the ruffle to the dress at the side seams, the centre front and the centre back.

Making the gathers:
  • Pull the two bobbin threads and move the fabric to towards the centre front.
  • Pull until the fabric is the same length as the skirt.
  • Tie a knot in the two bobbin threads.
  • Even out the gathers and pin.
Repeat three times pulling the threads from each side seam to the centre.

Hand basting ruffle to skirt:
  • With needle and thread, sew the ruffle to the skirt, with long stitches (hand basting stitch).
  • Remove all pins.

Machine stitch ruffle to skirt:
  • Set machine back to normal stitch length for straight stitch.
  • Sew between the two lines of machine basting.
  • Remove both rows of machine basting (bobbin and upper threads) and the hand basting.
  • Neaten the edges by overlocking (serging) or with zig zag.  
Sewing two lines of machine basting, makes it less likely for the thread to break as you pull the gathers and it also makes it easy to sew over the gathers so they remain neat.

  • Press the seam towards the skirt.
  • Set machine stitch slightly longer than normal. My topstitching is 2.6.
  • On the right side of the skirt, sew a row of stitching about 1/8" from the seam. This will hold the seam in place and gives a nice finish.

Hem the bottom edge of the ruffle:
  • Turn under 1/4" and either press or stitch.
  • Turn under 1/2" and stitch.

You have finished your ruffle!!!

... Pam

Edited to add: You can see the whole dress here.



  1. Thanks for your tutorial. It´s great!

  2. Pretty ruffles, If only I had a girl to tizz up, hey maybe I should make something for me! Thanks Pam:)

  3. Thank you for the explanation of how to use your machine to create the ruffles, Pam. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure it out for myself and ended up hand sewing. I'll have to try again now!

  4. While we've massed produced these things as a group, I'm so glad to see you are taking the time to add individual touches to these dresses. Those little girls are going to be so proud of their dress. I'm also enJOYing the inspiration you are providing by showing all the different ways you're taking one simple pattern and creating oodles of different styles of dresses. Also, great idea to show a technique you used on the dresses. You sure are a busy girl.

  5. Aha! I've been making ruffles but I never really know how much extra fabric to use. THanks so much for the 4x rule.:)

  6. Lovely ruffle tutorial Pam! You're right - girls love ruffles! I certainly do!!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  7. I really like the ruffle tutorial, thank you.

  8. Great tutorial and thanks so much for sharing!

  9. This is a great tut. I am a novice sewer and this was very clear and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing! I would love it if you would link up to my party at

  10. Would you consider letting me use this for my sewing 101 series? It is just such a great tutorial and ruffles are something I've been wanting to do a post on?

  11. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing at Terrific Tuesdays.

  12. I'm mad for ruffles. I hope you don't mind me pinning this tutorial. Thanks Pam. x

  13. I have never machine basted before, can you imagine, lol. I love ruffles, they immediately pretty up a piece. Thanks for the great tutorial and for sharing at our party this week.

  14. Nice tutorial- thanks for sharing! So glad you linked to Things I've Done Thursday!

  15. Found you from the Tatertots & Jello link party. I am always looking for different ways to sew ruffles. Thank you for sharing! :)

  16. Thank you for linking up this fabulous project!!!
    This week’s Linky Party is up!!!!
    I hope you will stop by an link up another lovely project..
    Claire x

  17. The best simple way!Thanks for sharing!My English is not too good.:)))


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