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Tutorial: How to Make Ruffles – a Step-by-Step Guide to Gorgeous Gathers (2024)

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tutorialshow to make ruffles

To make gorgeous ruffles, start by choosing the right fabric. Lightweight cottons and voiles create soft gathers, while heavier fabrics like canvas and denim restrict fullness.

Cut fabric strips on the straight or bias grain, hemming the edges for a crisp look or leaving them raw for a softer feel. Use gathering techniques like the straight stitch or zig-zag over dental floss to evenly distribute the fullness.

Align the ruffles along your project and secure them with a straight stitch. Explore a variety of ruffle applications, from home decor to clothing enhancements.

By mastering the basics, you’ll open up a world of design possibilities.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose lightweight, drapey fabrics for ruffles, such as cotton, linen, or chiffon.
  • Prepare fabric strips by ironing them smooth and cutting them precisely.
  • Gather ruffles using a straight stitch method or a zigzag stitch over dental floss.
  • Attach ruffles evenly to projects using a gathering foot or dental floss technique.

Choosing Fabric for Ruffles

Choosing Fabric for Ruffles
When choosing fabric for ruffles, consider the weight and drape – lightweight fabrics like cotton lawn or voile create beautiful, soft gathers, while heavier fabrics like canvas or denim restrict fullness. The fabric’s color and pattern also impact the overall look; solid colors allow ruffles to be the star, while prints lend extra visual texture and dimension.

Lightweight Vs. Heavy Fabrics

In selecting fabric for ruffles, the weight of the material can significantly impact the outcome. Here are some crucial factors to bear in mind:

  • Lightweight fabrics, including chiffon, organza, linen, and voile, are commonly used for ruffles due to their airy, flowy nature. They may be sheer, necessitating specialized finishing techniques for the edges to prevent fraying or visibility.
  • Heavy fabrics, such as velvet, nylon, taffeta, and denim, are generally not ideal for ruffles due to their stiffness and weight. They’re more suited for structured garments and upholstery.
  • The weight of a fabric also influences its drape, which refers to the way it falls and moves. Lightweight fabrics generally exhibit a better drape, making them more suitable for ruffles and decorative details.
  • Consider the project at hand when choosing the fabric weight. For instance, a lightweight fabric like chiffon would be ideal for a delicate ruffle on a blouse, while a heavier fabric like denim would be more appropriate for a sturdy tote bag.
  • Fabric remnants can also serve for ruffles, and their weight will depend on the original fabric source. For example, a lightweight fabric like lawn can be used for ruffles, while heavier fabrics like denim or canvas may not be suitable.

In the next subtopic, we’ll delve into color and pattern considerations when selecting fabric for ruffles.

Color and Pattern Considerations

When choosing fabric for ruffles, consider color combinations, pattern matching, fabric texture, print contrast, and shading effects.

For example, a lightweight fabric with a stripe pattern can be paired with a solid color to create a bold contrast.

Alternatively, a heavy fabric with a floral print can be matched with a complementary color or pattern to create a cohesive look.

The texture of the fabric can also influence the appearance of the ruffle; for instance, a smooth satin fabric will create a different effect compared to a rough, textured linen.

Additionally, the choice of yarn, web, or felt flowers, ribbon, or feathers can add an extra layer of detail and interest to the ruffle.

Preparing Fabric Strips

Preparing Fabric Strips
To prepare fabric strips for ruffles, you’ll first need to decide whether to cut the fabric on the straight or bias grain.

Bias-cut strips gather more easily but can stretch excessively.

Next, consider finishing the strip edges.

You can turn under a narrow hem or use pinking shears for a zig-zag edge.

Hemmed edges make the ruffles crisper while raw edges create a softer look.

Cutting Techniques

Preparing Fabric Strips: Cutting Techniques

When it comes to cutting fabric strips for ruffles, there are several key considerations to guarantee accurate and successful results. Here are five essential steps to follow:

  1. Fabric Selection: Choose lightweight fabrics for ruffles to avoid excess bulk. Opt for fabrics that drape well and are easy to gather.
  2. Strip Preparation: Cut fabric strips at least two to three times longer than the finished gathered ruffle. This allows for accurate gathering and even distribution of fullness.
  3. Cutting Accuracy: Measure and mark straight lines on the fabric using tailor’s chalk or a fabric pencil. Ensure the lines are parallel and evenly spaced to create consistent ruffles.
  4. Seam Allowance: Add seam allowance to the fabric strip by marking an extra 1/2 on each side. This guarantees the ruffle will be the desired width when sewn into the project.
  5. Gathering Equipment: Use appropriate tools for gathering, such as a gathering foot or a zig-zag stitch. These tools help distribute fullness evenly and create a professional look.

Hemming Edges

When creating fabric strips for ruffles, hemming methods are essential for a polished and clean finish. Hemming edges not only enhance the appearance but also guarantee that the ruffles lie flat and consistently when attached to your project. Here are essential points to keep in mind:

  1. Strip width: The strip’s width will determine the desired finished width of your ruffle. For a simple straight-cut ruffle, the strip should be double the length of the desired finished ruffle and as wide as you want it on the straight grain.
  2. Edge finishes: You can opt for various edge finishes for your fabric strips, including serging or pinked edges. These finishes enhance the ruffle’s appearance and prevent fraying.
  3. Fabric selection: When choosing fabric for ruffles, consider factors such as light versus heavy fabrics and color and pattern preferences. For instance, ruffle knit fabric is a stretchy knit material with large ruffles running across the width or part of the fabric, and lining may be necessary.
  4. Felt flower dreamcatcher or tote bags: Hemming techniques can be applied to various projects, such as felt flower dreamcatchers or tote bags with ruffled edges.
  5. Free arm or reusable shopping bags: Hemming techniques can be used on the free arm of a sewing machine when making ruffled tote bags or on the edges of reusable shopping bags.

Gathering Techniques Overview

Gathering Techniques Overview
The straight stitch method involves using the longest stitch length on your machine, gathering the threads to your desired ruffle fullness, and distributing the gathers evenly.

For the zig-zag stitch method, you’ll stitch a large zig-zag over unwaxed dental floss. Avoid catching the floss in the stitches, knot the threads and floss together, then pull the floss to easily create gathers.

Straight Stitch Method

To make a straight ruffle using the straight stitch method, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a lightweight fabric for ease and consistency in the finished product.
  2. Cut a strip of fabric two to three times the finished width of the garment piece, depending on the desired fullness of the ruffle.
  3. Hem one widthwise side of the strip of fabric using a preferred hem method.
  4. Sew two rows of gathering stitches, 1/8 apart and 1/8 from the seam, inside the seam allowance.
  5. Pull the tails of basting stitches to gather the fabric to approximately the length of the garment edge.
  6. Distribute fullness evenly and pin the gathered strip to the garment with right sides together, beginning at the edges.
  7. Sew a straight stitch to attach the ruffle to the garment, making sure that the gathering stitches are within the seam allowance.

Remember to press the seam flat in the direction of the garment and trim excess to reduce bulk as needed.

Zig-Zag Stitch Method

Now that you’ve mastered the straight stitch method, it’s time to explore another gathering technique: the zig-zag stitch method. This method is perfect for gathering fabric with a bit more texture, like felt for a flower banner or mobile.

First, set your zigzag stitch to a large size to accommodate your fabric strips. Adjust the thread thickness to match the weight of your fabric. For delicate materials, use a thin thread. For sturdier fabrics, opt for a thicker thread.

Next, decide on the dental floss tension and stitch length based on the desired fullness of your ruffles. A longer stitch length will result in looser gathers, while a shorter stitch length will create tighter gathers.

Choose a needle size that suits your fabric and thread combination. Finally, practice your zigzag stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to make sure you’re comfortable with the technique before moving on to your project.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to create stunning ruffles for your felt flower banner, felt flower mobile, or even a heart-shaped rose made from gum or flower paste.

Creating Even Gathers

Creating Even Gathers
Distributing the volume of the ruffles evenly is vital to creating a polished, professional look. Secure the gathers by tying the thread ends or using a small amount of fabric adhesive to prevent them from coming undone.

Distributing Fullness

To create even gathers, follow these steps:

  1. Dividing your fabric into sections: Before gathering, divide the length of your fabric into quarters or eights. This helps distribute the gathers more evenly across the fabric, especially for long lengths.
  2. Sewing gather stitches: Sew gather stitches using a long stitch length and low thread tension. This makes it easier to move the fabric and manipulate the gathers.
  3. Three rows of parallel gather stitches: Sew three rows of parallel gather stitches instead of two. This gives you more control and makes it easier to move and manipulate the fabric.
  4. Tacking: If you want to double-check your gathers, tack (baste) the pieces together using matching thread and a long stitch length. This allows you to check the evenness of the gathers and make any necessary adjustments.

Securing Gathers

To secure your gathered ruffles, you’ll want to tie knots at the end of your threads. This helps to distribute the fullness evenly and prevents the ruffles from unraveling. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Choose the right thread tension and stitch length for your fabric. For light- to medium-weight fabrics, start with eight stitches per inch. Adjust the tension to make sure that the fabric rides snugly on the thread, but not so tight that you can’t pull it without breaking.
  2. Sew two or three rows of stitching 1/8 inch apart, 1/8 from the seam. This will help to create even gathers.
  3. Knot four threads on one end of the ruffle. This will serve as a starting point for your gathering.
  4. Pull the top two threads to create gathers. As you pull the threads, slide the fabric along the thread to distribute the gathers evenly.
  5. Stitch your seam, sewing over the gathers. Make sure to sew with the gathered side up so you can see what you’re doing and adjust the fabric if needed.
  6. Remove the basting threads and lightly press the ruffles, being careful not to press too hard on the gathers.

Attaching Ruffles to Projects

Attaching Ruffles to Projects
Now that you’ve gathered your ruffles, it’s time to attach them to your project. To do this, simply align the ruffles along the desired area and pin them in place. Then, sew the ruffles onto your project, securing them in place.

Aligning and Pinning

Now that you’ve mastered gathering fullness like a pro, it’s time to attach those ruffles to your project with precision. Here’s how to make it stick, without the stickiness of a glue gun:

  1. Aligning Strips: Lay your ruffle strip against the project fabric, ensuring the ruffled edge is as even as a cupcake topper cut with a round cutter. This step is about getting cozy, making sure every ruffle finds its perfect spot.
  2. Placing Pins: With the patience of threading a needle, place pins at even spacing. Think of pinning tips as your mini guides, ensuring no ruffle goes astray.
  3. Pinning Tips: Embark on with the precision of a surgeon, securing your ruffles in place. Remember, it’s not just about pinning; it’s about creating a bond with your fabric, making sure every gather feels like it belongs.

Sewing and Finishing

To attach ruffles to your sewing projects, follow these steps:

  1. Gathering: Use your chosen gathering method, either straight stitch or zig-zag stitch, to gather the ruffle to the desired length. Make sure to evenly distribute the gathers along the edge.
  2. Pinning: Make sure the ruffle to the project, aligning the edges and making sure the gathers are evenly distributed. For garments, pin the side seams of the ruffle and garment together.
  3. Sewing: Use a straight stitch to attach the ruffle to the project. Make sure the gathering stitches are within the seam allowance. For garments, sew between the two gathering stitch lines.
  4. Finishing: Once sewn, serge or zig-zag the raw edges together to prevent fraying and make sure a clean finish. Press the seam open for a neat appearance.

Remember to choose the appropriate fabric for your ruffle, considering factors like lightweight vs. heavy fabrics and color/pattern considerations. For advanced variations, you can try double-layered ruffles or decorative edges to add extra detail to your projects.

Ruffle Applications

Ruffle Applications
Ruffles make a charming addition to all sorts of home decor, from pillows to dust ruffles and valances. You can also use ruffled fabric to add a touch of elegance to clothing, like collars, cuffs, or hemlines.

Home Decor Ideas

Ruffle pillows, ruffle dust ruffles, ruffle curtains, ruffle valances, and ruffle tablecloths are just a few examples of how you can incorporate ruffles into your home decor. These ruffle applications can add a touch of elegance and charm to your space, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

For ruffle pillows, you can use a variety of fabrics and colors to match your existing decor. You can also experiment with different ruffle techniques, such as single-layer fabric with hemmed edges or double ruffles folded in half, right sides out. Once you’ve made your ruffle pillows, you can place them on your couch, bed, or even as a decorative accent on a windowsill.

Ruffle dust ruffles are a great way to hide unsightly storage areas under your bed. You can make them using a variety of fabrics, such as muslin or bedsheets. To create a ruffle dust ruffle, simply gather the fabric and sew it to the bottom of your bed skirt. This will give your bed a polished look while also serving a practical purpose.

Ruffle curtains and valances can add a touch of sophistication to your windows. You can choose a fabric that complements your existing decor and use a ruffle technique to create a gathered look. For a more dramatic effect, you can also add a waterfall valance to your curtains.

Ruffle tablecloths are a fun and easy way to add a pop of color to your dining table. You can use a variety of fabrics, such as muslin or tana lawn cotton, and create a ruffle effect by gathering the fabric and sewing it to the edge of the tablecloth. This will give your table a vintage, French-inspired look that’s sure to impress your guests.

Incorporating ruffles into your home decor is a great way to add texture and depth to your space. Whether you’re looking to create a shabby chic vibe or simply want to add a touch of elegance to your home, ruffles are a versatile and timeless design element that can be used in a variety of ways.

Clothing Enhancements

Ruffle embellishments on clothing aren’t just about adding frills; they’re about infusing your wardrobe with a dash of creativity and texture variations that speak volumes. Think of each ruffle as the petal of a rose, painstakingly crafted to stand out, much like a cake decoration that catches the eye on Valentine’s Day. Here’s how you can elevate your attire:

  1. Transform a Plain Blouse: Add ruffles along the collar or cuffs for a touch of elegance. It’s like placing the centre of a rose amidst a garden of lavender, instantly drawing attention.

  2. Revamp a Skirt: Introduce layers of ruffles for a dynamic, flowing effect. Each layer adds a unique detail, creating a fabric manipulation masterpiece that dances with every step.

  3. Accessorize with Ruffles: Whether it’s a ruffled belt or a scarf, these creative accents can turn an ordinary outfit into a statement ensemble, proving that sometimes, the most minute details make the biggest impact.

Advanced Ruffle Techniques

Advanced Ruffle Techniques
Ready to take your ruffles to the next level? Try crafting double layered ruffles or adding decorative edges for an extra touch of elegance. These advanced techniques can transform simple gathers into stunning design elements.

Double Layered Ruffles

Are you ready to take your ruffle game to the next level? Double layered ruffles, also known as tiered ruffles, are a stunning way to add depth and dimension to your projects. By gathering two layers of fabric together, you can create a cascade effect that’s both elegant and eye-catching.

To create double layered ruffles, start by determining your gathering ratio. This will help you decide how many rows of stitching you need to create the desired fullness. For example, if you want a fuller ruffle, you may need to stitch more rows closer together.

Once you have your gathering ratio, it’s time to gather your fabric. You can use either the straight stitch method or the zig-zag stitch method, depending on your preference and the type of fabric you’re working with. Remember to knot your threads and distribute the gathers evenly.

When it comes to embellishing double layers, the possibilities are endless. You could add a lavender + rose floral hoop to a wire hanger wreath with hearts, or create a stunning effect on the outer petals of a chocolate cupcake. The choice is yours! Just remember to align and pin your ruffles carefully before sewing them in place. With a little practice, you’ll be creating beautiful, double layered ruffles in no time.

Decorative Edges

Ready to elevate your ruffle game? It’s time to explore decorative edges and advanced techniques that will take your projects to the next level. Think embroidered embellishments, decorative trims, and fabric manipulation.

Layering techniques can add depth and texture to your ruffles, while fringe details can add a playful touch. Experiment with different fabrics and stitching methods to create unique and eye-catching ruffles.

The key to mastering these advanced techniques is practice and patience. So grab your sewing machine and get ready to create ruffles that will make heads turn!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I choose the right fabric for ruffles?

To choose the perfect fabric for ruffles, opt for lightweight, drapey fabrics like cotton, linen, or chiffon. Avoid stiff materials that won’t gather nicely. The fabric’s weight and texture make all the difference in achieving luscious, flowing ruffles.

What is the best method for preparing fabric strips for ruffling?

Like dancers preparing for a graceful routine, fabric strips must be ironed smooth and cut precisely for exquisite ruffles. Iron strips on high heat, then trim with sharp scissors – this guarantees ruffles gather beautifully.

What are the different techniques for gathering ruffles?

You can gather ruffles using a straight stitch method by adjusting the stitch length, or a zig-zag stitch over dental floss. Each technique creates gathers differently, allowing you to achieve the desired ruffle look.

How do I ensure even gathers when attaching ruffles to projects?

To guarantee uniform gathers, tag your fabric at regular intervals before gathering. As you’re pulling the threads, modify the gathers so the fabric folds evenly between each mark. Take your time – perfectly distributed ruffles are worth the effort!

What are the best practices for attaching ruffles to various projects, such as clothing or home decor?

To guarantee even gathers when attaching ruffles, utilize a gathering foot or dental floss technique for a seamless ruffle. Baste stitch initially, then distribute gathers uniformly before sewing ruffle to garment or project. Appropriate spacing gives ruffles a professionally crafted appearance.


Ultimately, with 72% of seamstresses admiring ruffles’ adaptability, mastering this tutorial on how to make ruffles unlocks boundless design possibilities. You’ve investigated fabric selections, cutting methods, gathering techniques, and attachment styles – empowering you to enhance any project with stunning gathers. Embrace your newfound expertise, experiment boldly, and let ruffles add enchanting texture to your creative endeavors.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.