Sewing Tip: Making and Attaching Gathered/Ruffled Fabric

 

Do you want to know what some of my favorite emails are to get?  The ones from some of you that tell me that you haven’t sewn since Home Ec in 7th grade but decided to start up again.  And that much to your surprise, you’re actually making things that are mostly turning out.  I have a little mini party in my computer chair every time.  Ha.  Sewing really is a little hidden treasure.  For those of you who sew proficiently, take a few sewing skill steps back and realize that to a beginner, sewing seems REALLY hard.  Sewing a straight line, creating a zig-zag, or eeeek, or trying to sew around a curve……it all seems scary.  But once you get it, it’s kind of like riding a bike.  Right?  So to those of you who haven’t used a sewing machine since you were a kid (or ever), I love that you are trying new skills and attempting things you never thought you could.  And then realize that “hey, I can sew a blind hem, or make piping, or add a zipper.  What was I so worried about?”  (And here’s a whole section of Sewing Tips, in case you’re new around here.)

 

But just remember, it takes baby steps.  And lots of practice. 

 

A sewing skill that I tend to do a lot, but don’t have a good tutorial for, is ruffles and gathering fabric.  Okay, I do have an old one here.  But I didn’t add enough info to that tutorial, so here’s TAKE 2.  Mostly because I get questions about little things pertaining to ruffles and gathering that I wish I would have added to that old tutorial.  So here’s to explaining it a little bit better:

 

 

 

And yeah, there’s a correct way and a shortcut way.  I rarely use the correct way.  But who really cares?  I love me a shortcut!!  (And just so we’re clear, my mom cringes when she sees me use the shortcut method.  And yes, she taught me correctly.  But I like to save myself some time.  And I really don’t notice much of a difference.)

 

I even have a few tricks that help me attach my gathered fabric to a tube like a skirt (shown on left) or to a flat piece of fabric (shown on right).  You  may already know and use these same tricks……..but maybe there are some who don’t.

 

 

 

Let’s get started, shall we?

 

Okay, first of all…….when gathering, you need to adjust your stitch length to the longest it will go. 

 

 

Here’s my shortcut method first.  I do this about 98% of the time.  Maybe even 99% of the time.  (Even though it makes my mom cringe.  “Love you mom!”)

 

First, you will sew a nice straight seam along the edge of fabric that you want to gather, without backstitching at each end.  This is also known as a basting stitch. 

 

See how nice and big those stitches are?  (I used orange thread on top and white thread in my bobbin, so that you could see the different threads.)

 

Now, you’re going to start pulling either the top thread or the bottom thread and start sliding your fabric together, creating a gathered look.  You can pull the top thread from both sides or the bottom thread from both sides but just be sure that you don’t mix the two.  If you try to pull the top (the orange) thread on the left and then pull the bottom (the white) thread on the right side, it won’t gather correctly and will lock up.  And then you’ll get frustrated.  Ugggh.   So, just remember what thread you’re pulling on.  Now slide the fabric together, creating a nice gathered look.

 

And if you are gathering on the left side and your gathers are sliding right out on the right side (this happens a lot with slick fabric), you can always tie a knot on the right side so that you lock that side up and the gathers won’t slide off.  (or vice versa)

 

 

 

Now, for the correct gathering method.

 

  You do everything the same, except instead of only one row of stitching, you add another row of stitching right next to the first.

 

See?  Just the same.  Just two rows of stitches.

 

Now, instead of only pulling one your one top thread (or your one bottom thread), you’ll grab the two top threads (or the two bottom threads).  And then gather it on up the same way.  Using the double seam gathers more evenly and makes your gathers look more uniform.  It even helps keep the gathers from sliding out a bit more.  (I know mom, I know. ;) )  But it’s not enough of a difference for me to ever care.  And I can usually adjust the ruffles enough as I’m sewing them to whatever other fabric I’m using, and even them up enough so that it doesn’t matter much.  But if you are more of a perfectionist, go on and sew a double seam.  Or if your gathers are frustrating you, try out the double seam to help you keep them stable and more uniform.  It may be just the method you need until you feel like taking the shortcut like I do.  (Just don’t tell my mom I converted you!)

 

Here you can see the two methods side by side.  See?  Not a huge difference, but you can see a bit of one.  The gathers on the right are smaller and a lot prettier.  (I’ll show you how I make up for that later.)

 

Now, if you have to attach this gathered fabric to something, here’s a little trick that I use every time.  Totally worth the effort in the long run. :)  Let’s say you have to add this gathered piece to a bed skirt, or the edge of a pillow, or a table runner, or I don’t know……..whatever you’re making.  Well, the piece of fabric above is the fabric I’m attaching mine to.  So I need to find the very center of this piece (I do so by folding it in half).  Then find the very center of the piece you are gathering.  (I un-gathered it to show you this technique.)  Place a pin to mark your centers.

 

Then gather up your fabric just a bit.

 

Then place your fabrics together with the edges together that need to be sewn together, and with right sides together.  Pin the two ends together (shown on left) and then pin your two centers together (shown on right).  Gathering in smaller sections like this will just keep your gathers even all the way across.  (This is a mini version and the size of it doesn’t really need this technique but this was just used to show you how to do it on something much bigger.)

 

Then, pull your threads on each end (remember to pull either the top or bottom thread) and tighten up the gathers so that the gathered piece of fabric is exactly as wide as the flat piece of fabric.

 

Add more pins to secure your gathers in place.

 

Now, time for sewing.  I always place the gathered side facing up so that I can keep an eye on it and adjust when necessary.  And then I start sewing either right on top of that old basting stitch or slightly to the left so that it will never show from the other side.  And I slide pins out as I go, being sure to not actually sew over them.  (Have you ever broken a needle this way?  Not fun.)  Oh, and like I explained before, this is where I make up for not making the double seam in the first step.  I keep an eye on the gathers and if I see a gather that’s too big or is going to make more of a pleat than a ruffle, I just use a pin to even it out and help guide it under the needle.

 

Here’s your seam from the back and then the front.  Pretty, huh?

 

 

Now, let’s say you have a large tube of fabric (like a skirt bottom) and need to attach it to another smaller tube (like a waistband of some sort).  Here’s how I tackle that:

 

I divide tubes of fabric into two sections of gathering: the front and the back.  I find the two very sides of the tube and place a pin at each side.  Then I place a pin in the very center back (which I usually make the seam that sewed the piece of fabric into a tube) and the very center front.  (I never measure, I always just fold it in half to find the center.)  So now there’s 4 pins in place.  Then I make one long basting stitch along the front, starting at one side pin, making my way over to the other side pin, leaving long thread tails at each end.  Then I do the same thing to the back, making sure to leave long threads for that seam too.

 

Now, I find the sides and center front and center back of the smaller tube of fabric.  Then I place pins at those spots, just like I did with the bigger tube.

 

Next, I turn the bigger tube inside out and then slide it over the smaller tube and start matching up the pins, sides with sides, front with front, and back with back.

 

Then I find the thread tails and start pulling on the backside thread. (I’m pulling the white thread now since I turned the tube inside out and this is now the “wrong” side of the fabric.)  I then gather section by section, pulling from the sides and sliding the fabric toward the center pins.

 

Once it’s all gathered evenly, I place plenty of pins to keep the gather in place.  Then I sew the two pieces of fabric together just like shown above but this time sewing all the way around in circle.

 

Then, when you turn everything right side out, you have a nicely gathered tube of fabric.  And because this is so mini, it may have to become a dolly skirt. :)

 

And that’s it. 

 

Gathers 101…….How’d you do??

 

 

Let me know how it goes.  And if it wasn’t perfect the first time, try again. 

 

And then put it to use and make a ruffled shirt dress, a ruffled shower curtain, a ruffled heart applique, or a gathered pillow

 

     

 

 

Or millions of other things. :)

 

P.S. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend if it applies to you. And eat an extra slice of watermelon for me! :)

 

-Ashley

 

 

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Comments

136 Responses to “Sewing Tip: Making and Attaching Gathered/Ruffled Fabric”
  1. 1
    Laura says:

    Thanks so much for the awesome tips!! My mom and I were sewing aprons earlier today and this totally helped!!

  2. 2
    Dj says:

    I am so glad someone else uses the same shortcut I do!

  3. 3
    Sherry says:

    I learned to sew in University. This correct way/shortcut makes me laugh. We got in so much trouble if we used the shortcut (and it’s easy to tell), even now I can’t do the shortcut without feeling fear that my professor will see it. But we actually had to do three rows of stitching rather than three. It really does make much better ruffles, but it definitely takes time.

  4. 4
    Georgine says:

    My shortcut is increasing tension. Bad for readjusting sometimes. I never thought to mark the center and sides! Wonderful tip! Thank you!

  5. 5
    Natasha J says:

    how to do you know how much more fabric to cut your ruffle piece than the pice you are attatching it to? thanx for this tute. it was really right up my ally, i was planning to make a doll crib from cardboard and wanted to sew some bedding and wanted to make a little ruffle bed skirt to go with it. much needed!

    • 5.1
      Charlene says:

      take the length of the thing you’re attaching the ruffles to, and times it by 1.5 or 2 – depending on how “ruffly” you want it to be!

  6. 6
    Amanda says:

    Another thing that helps tremendously, is pressing the ruffles with steam before sewing them onto the flat fabric. It helps to hold them in place and keep them from shifting when sewing.

  7. 7
    Ashley says:

    What a great tutorial! Thank you so much! My mom had to explain gathering over the phone :) Next time I need help, I will just refer to this post!

  8. 8
    cara says:

    This. is. AMAZING! I just took a beginner’s series sewing class, and I got in a bonus tutorial on how to make a ruffle (using the “correct” method :D), but I could not replicate it for the life of me! AND now I know how to do a ruffle on a skirt (or whichever) — thank you sooo much!

  9. 9
    Suesan says:

    Thanks for the great tips. If you mark your centers before gathering with a fabric marking pen, then you can use your machine to do most of the gathering for you as you sew. To make your machine gather the fabric for you, set your stitch length to the longest length, and then set your tension to the highest number. As long as you are using poly thread, the fabric will gather up as you sew. You still have to pull the threads a bit, but not as much as before.

  10. 10
    Amanda says:

    Great tips! I always struggle to get my gathering matched up when attaching it to a tube. Never thought to pin and gather by section! Gotta try that next time! :)

  11. 11
    Emily says:

    I never took any sewing classes and used to use the shortcut method but recently switched to two basting stitches. Besides making a more even ruffle, I found that I’m not worried about the fabric twisting or the short edge of the fabric getting stuck in my seam. :) I also like to try making ruffles by increasing my tension first but it usually only works with very thin/light fabrics. :)

  12. 12
    Carole M says:

    Fantastic tutorial. Thank you! I did my first ruffle in probably 30 years (like I was 8 years old the last time), while working on a project, and the idea was almost overwhelming. I like the using pins to mark where they should meet up idea. Thank you!

  13. 13
    Milz says:

    Man what a huge help.
    Thanks.

  14. 14
    Marissa says:

    I have made several of your things. I just made the three tiered skirt yesterday and was having a terrible time with the gathering. This makes it so much more understandable. Thank you so much for the update. My littlee lady loves skirts every day too so I plan on making many more of the same one and this will make it so much simpler.

  15. 15
    leanne says:

    Hi!
    Just wanted to say I love your blog! I also have a daughter named Chloe (chloe charlotte shes 3!) and recently purchased a second hand Bernina 440 QE and embroidery module! I have been thinking about buying the bernina ruffler attachment. Just wondering if you have one and if you would demo how to use it? Thanks for the tute on how to ruffle!

  16. 16
    heidi says:

    Aaack! I have to admit that I totally cringe when I see the shortcut method too! But your clothes are always adorable, so I’m glad it works so well for you :)

    • 16.1
      hannah says:

      hmmm…..i dont know, they both seem very simiar, but i have to admit the correct method is a tiny bit more prettier.

  17. 17
    Kristi says:

    I had to laugh because my mom taught me how to sew and used the shortcut method only. It wasn’t until I made something with a pattern that specifically mentioned sewing two rows that I realized the correct way. And now that’s the only way I can do it. Too many frustrating times breaking my single thread with the shortcut. To each her own!

  18. 18
    Camille says:

    Leanne, I have an old Bernina machine and I bought a generic ruffling attachment (cheap!) from JoAnn’s that I absolutely love! It’s a little time-consuming to attach it to the machine (has to be screwed on), but it saves me so much time over hand gathering that it’s totally worth it. The attachment doesn’t come with good instructions, but if you go to http://www.youcanmakethis.com, they have a free tutorial on using a ruffler which helped me a ton. I always use the “cheater” way with the ruffling foot (loosen the machine tension a bit and then over-ruffle my fabric) so that I don’t have to worry about whether my ruffles will match up exactly with what I’m attaching them to – I just slide them a bit until they fit. Good luck, and Ashley, thanks for all the great tutorials! You are amazing!

  19. 19
    Adriann says:

    Thank you! I’ve been doing the cheater method for years, but never was able to get the ruffles uniform enough. Now I know to divide in sections with pins. Genius! I think you just saved me a lot of time and frustration.

  20. 20
    Jean says:

    I needed this tutorial for a project I am about to start. Perfect timing! What a blessing. Thank you!!

  21. 21

    Thanks for showing the “right” way, too. I had no idea there was a right way and a shortcut. I have always done the shortcut way, but I’m going to try the other way too. I’m kind of a slacker-sewer person, so sometimes my shortcuts don’t always look so pretty.

  22. 22
    Cecilia says:

    Thanks for the tute. I LOVE ruffles. I have a question, could I use a double needle to make the correct method?

    • 22.1
      Marlene says:

      I know that this is from two years ago but I wanted to reply in case anyone else saw your question. No, you can not use a double needle. It doesn’t work because there is only one bobbin thread.

  23. 23
    Danae says:

    I usually do the “short-cut method”, too (don’t tell my mom!! Ha ha!) and it usually works fine. The only exception is if your thread breaks or you pull too far and it comes out at the end, you’re up a creek without a paddle. The second string is sort of your fail-safe. If you are doing any slicky kind of fabric, one thread is usually fine, but if you are doing cotton thread on a thicker fabric, a second thread is sometimes a good idea, because you have a greater chance the one might break. Also, if it is a very long ruffle, or like all the way around a skirt, sometimes it is a good idea to stop, cut your thread (leave yourself a few inches to work with), and then start again without backstitching every so often (maybe 2 or 3 times as you go around) so that if anything does go wrong, you don’t have to re-do the entire thing.

  24. 24
    Diana says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to make a layered ruffled skirt for my granddaughter and now you’ve given me the info to do it. Thanks bunches!!

  25. 25
    melle says:

    Oooh! Gonna break out some fabric scraps and learn this today. I have a ruffled apron I’ve been dying to make…. this might be the best tute I’ve ever seen on ruffling without a ruffle foot.

  26. 26
    Baker4Boys says:

    Great refresher! I am anxious to make my daughter a ruffled-shirt-dress! =) Thanks for all of the wonderful tips, tutorials, and general sewing inspiration!!

  27. 27
    anilegra says:

    MARAVILLOSAMENTE BIEN EXPLICADO!!!

  28. 28
    Susie says:

    I am one of those people who teaches 7th graders how to sew in FACS class (Family and Consumer Sciences aka Home Ec) – they make a fairly simple cartoon character pillow these days (no gathering required)! I have done exactly what you do since I can remember, but I discovered one more tip that helps keep the gathers in place between the pins – I wrap the ends of the thread around the outside pins (where the thread begins/ends) in a figure 8 – that way my gathers don’t slip AND if I need to adjust, I haven’t tied a knot that will cause me to have to sew a new straight line. I am so pleased to see sewing catching on again, I have been sewing for over 40 years, it’s nice to have some younger company.

  29. 29
    Mandi says:

    Haha. I always use what you call the shortcut method. It wasn’t until you started making jokes about your mom cringing that I remembered that my mom showed me the “correct” method long ago but since then I’ve never bothered with two rows. Maybe I’ll have to try the “correct” way next time just for kicks.

  30. 30
    Jacinda says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial! I’ve done some ruffles/gathers before, but not a lot. Your tutorial was so clear and easy that I’m dying to go ruffle up some fabric now! Thanks for sharing!

  31. 31
    kat says:

    I am so happy to see other sew-ers use the shortcut method too! I felt like such a deviant! Yeay!!!!!

  32. 32
    Tina says:

    I heard acording to the pros. you should always pull your bobbin thread it is much easier to pull.

  33. 33

    lol, I’m new to sewing and I thought the shortcut was WAS the right way!

  34. 34
    Farrah says:

    You are awesome. Just had to say it. :) I adore your blog. Thanks for the great tips. I’ve learned so much from you!!

  35. 35
    Tracy says:

    OH! You have just saved me so much headache when sewing the gathered fabric on to a tube. I usually just gathered it then hoped it fit.. then spent a LONG time adjusting…readjusting.. and again. You’re way is is much better! Thank you Ashley… my sanity owes you.

  36. 36

    oh, this is interesting. I’ve never bothered with the ‘correct’ way, but my shortcut way is totally different. I use a zigzag over a piece of string and then use the string to gather. It’s really quick and the tension isn’t a problem. I might give this idea a go though.

    • 36.1
      Amber says:

      I love the zig zag string method, it works every time and I have never had my thread break on me like with the shortcut method!

      • 36.1.1
        Jennifer says:

        I’m a new convert to the zigzag method. I’ve been using the shortcut way forever and recently came across the zigzag way before doing a king-sized bedskirt. The thought of pulling all that string sent me to Google, which is where I found a Youtube tutorial for the zigzags. I almost cried I was so thrilled and excited. I then immediately called three friends to tell them about it. :)

        Love this tutorial, too, Ashley. It’s perfect for beginners! Keep ‘em coming!

  37. 37
    Deb Baker says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! Like you – life’s too short for doing things the ‘correct’ way! Love your blog – thanks for sharing.

  38. 38
    Kiersten says:

    Awesome, and so easy to follow!!!

  39. 39
    Kimberly curtis says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. That’s the one thing I HATE about sewing is gathering. This makes it look so much more doable. And you were the first sewing/craft blog that I started following and now I’m addicted to craft blogs. :) I refer your site to a lot of new beginning sewers because you explain stuff so well.

    Thank you for all the time that you put into your blog. It helps so many people!!!

  40. 40
    lauren says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you i have been wondering how you did this for a long time i am very excited to see it! you made my day

  41. 41
    Amy R. says:

    Thanks Ashley! I am totally a newbie and remember sewing with my grandmother on her sewing machine as a kid. I don’t know how to do ruffled fabric but your tutorial is perfect. I need a tutorial on how to sew up the seam after I turn my large squares right side out. My seam always looks bulky and awkward afterward!!!

  42. 42
    Kathleen says:

    Are you Mrs. Brown, my 8th grade home ec teacher? :o) Cuz this is exactly how I was taught by her! Great refresher. Nice job, thank you!

  43. 43
    Verenice says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was literally just racking my brain over this concept wondering why I couldn’t get it. And you have explained it beautifully. Your time is very appreciated.

  44. 44
    rachel says:

    Ok, how many ruffle-bottom skirts have I made for my almost five year-old and it NEVER ONCE occurred to me to “pin first, pull the threads second”?!?! Holy cow, what a revelation! I’ve got at least two dozen things to get done today… but it looks like I’m going to shine it all and make some skirts! :) Thank you so much for your amazing tutorials. I’ve been negligent in posting my adoration, but I visit daily and really enjoy all your posts. Hugs to you!

  45. 45
    Teri says:

    This could NOT have come at a better time! I was just trying to attach a ruffled skirt to a onesie for my daughter yesterday and couldn’t figure it out! Thanks so much for this!!

  46. 46
    Lyndsie says:

    Thank you! I just started to learn to sew and you have great tutorials! Thank you! Thank you!

  47. 47
    Eva Scott says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial!!!

  48. 48
    Katie says:

    The way you put it on a “skirt” is awesome! I always have issues making it line up just right. That is about the best trick I’ve learned since I learned how to gather using a zigzag stich…. Which I’m surprised you haven’t shown. Maybe I will do my very own tutorial ;)

  49. 49
    Danna Reynolds says:

    I use the zig-zag method and it has changed my life! I have been sewing for over 30 yrs and always used the short-cut but would get frustrated when my string would break. My mother in law showed me the zig-zag method about 15 years ago and I will never gather any other way. Here is how you do it. I hope you can all follow my directions. You are welcome to email me if you have any questions.
    Pull out enough top and bottom thread for the length of the fabric you are gathering. DO NOT CUT! Take the string coming out of the machine and needle, make a loop around your index finger behind the pressure foot, and then place the string on the fabric under the middle of the pressure foot and lower the pressure foot. (I hope you guys understood that.) Put your machine and the longest zig-zag stitch and zig-zag over the string. Make sure the straight thread does not get caught in your zig-zag stitch. Once you get to the end of the fabric, you can backstitch if you like (again, just don’t get the straight thread caught in you zig-zag.) Now all you have to do is pull the straight thread and you will be amazing how easy it gathers and no more broken thread!!! This will change your life, I promise!!
    Hope you give it a try!

  50. 50
    Cari says:

    I made my first ruffled dress for my daughter last weekend. I definitely could have used this tutorial:) Great tips!!!

  51. 51
    Meredith says:

    My mom also taught me the correct way and I do a single row of stitching anyway! It’s nice to know I’m not the only ruffle rebel.

  52. 52
    Joanna says:

    Great job on your tutorial!! I too, use both methods. . single row of stitching for simple items, double row for special items that I want a little more control over the ruffles.

  53. 53
    Suzie H says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I, like many others, did some sewing in Home Ec. back in middle school and just started up again last summer. My first project was very ambitious with LOTS of ruffling. I will have to remember the “correct” way to ruffle! I’ve always done the single row of basting, but I like the way they turn out with double basting better. =)

  54. 54
    Catherine says:

    Ok, so my question is, in regards to the attaching to another piece of fabric such as a skirt or dress is “what do you do when they are different types of fabric and the top is a knit and the ruffle is not stretchy…without adding a zipper or snap, etc. can you do that…easily? Eg. If you attached those ruffle tiers to the shirt at the empire waistline of that tee…but then needed to stretch it to get it over shoulders…HOW???

  55. 55
    Susan says:

    The shortcut method for me is doing 2 rows of machine basting – I was taught the correct way was 2 rows of running stitch by hand
    I still feel guilty using 2 rows of machine basting

  56. 56
    Lauren says:

    Wow. So I am that girl-the one who took home ec in 7th grade and sewed a pillow in the shape of a popsicle. I haven’t touched a machine since, until my mom-in-law graciously let me borrow hers to try out my mad home ec skills. The only thing I can confidently make is a stuffed bunny. They are multiplying like bunnies do and I need to expand my repertoire. I long to make ruffles (especially to go along with my physical ruffled heart journey) and through stumble-upon, I landed on your site. Let the fabric fly.

    Thanks :)

  57. 57
    Brittany says:

    How do you keep the basting stitch from being able to be pulled after you’ve sewn the waistband to the skirt?

    • 57.1
      michele says:

      You dont need it anymore once you’ve sewn the waistband to the skirt- the stitches will hold the ruffle in place and keep it from shifting. after you’ve sewn your basting stitch, you shorten your stitches back to a 2.5-3.0.

  58. 58
    ski says:

    I love your blog. I love that you show people how to do what you do. I am not a fan of ruffling, the correct or the shortcut way. The pinning, the string pulling, the knotting the making sure it is even, then in my case the accidental pleating. Argh. But, I learned a couple little pinning tricks that will make my next project a little less irritating (adding ruffles to canvas bags) which in my world means faster completion and loving that you made something yourself. Then on to sew the the next fun thing.

    I also love your repurposing tutorials. I look at old, outgrown and stained clothes differently now! Thanks.

  59. 59
    Laura says:

    here I am 38 and trying to learn to sew on my own….i wish my mother could sew…i promise i would have listened for once in my life.

    as a mommy of 6…i’m a late beginner….

    I WANTED TO SAY A HUGE THANKS for this tut. i’ve been dying to put a ruffle on cuffs…or edges etc but could never grasp to make it easy on me….NOT IT MAKES SENSE.

    my only prob….even when i make the stitch at the widest and longest length it still gets stuck when i pull it…i pull it gently slowly etc…..what is the key to making this work for me? i’m so frustrated at trying to make a ruffle….

  60. 60
    txilibrin says:

    This reaaally helps me, thank you veeeery much :) :) :)

  61. 61
    Lama says:

    Great post!

    I also saw another method of making ruffles on another blog. What you do is lift up the spool thread slightly (don’t pull, just lift it up away from the machine) from the top of the machine near your spool as you sew. And watch your fabric ruffle! It’s not as neat as these two methods but ruffles are fun so I sometimes use this method if I’m in a hurry or don’t feel like pulling threads. I especially use this method when ruffling loooong fabric :-)

  62. 62
    Jen says:

    Do you ever use a shorter shortcut to make ruffles? I set my stitch length long and the thread tension all the way up and let the machine do the work!

  63. 63
    Gazolette says:

    This was the best tutorial! I needed this about one skirt ago. Practice makes perfect.

  64. 64
    tal says:

    thanks you!!! what a great help this has been- could not make heads or tails on pattern instructions! now ready to tackle it!

  65. 65
    Kris says:

    I hope you are having another party in your chair because this is THE perfect tutorial that I’ve been looking for. I’m going to attempt to make my daughter a dress with shirred top and tiered twirly skirt. Yay! Thank you!!

  66. 66
    Silke says:

    This tutorial is great!
    but I have a question, I’m making ruffles for a skirt ( al the way around it) but I can’t do it in 1piece.
    I can pull on short pieces to make it ruffle but it would look a lot nicer in 1 piece.
    any advice??

  67. 67
    Ruthe says:

    If you are adding ruffles to something, how do you know how much more fabric you need?

  68. 68
    Lea says:

    How do you calculate the length of fabric needed to make ruffles, say on a 26″ Euro Sham? Of course it’s two Euro Shams.

  69. 69
    Meagan says:

    This is probably a silly question, but do I need to add a hem to all four sides of the material I am using to make the ruffle? I am adding to the bottom of some curtains that fell victim to a horrible shrinking accident :)

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    Ann says:

    Thanks so much for tutorial big help :)

  71. 71

    Great tutorial. Thank you so much for that! I always had troubles with raffles :S

  72. 72
    Tamara says:

    Thanks for this! I posted a link on my blog entry about ruffle dresses: http://www.livinginlilliput.com/2013/06/grey-and-yellow-ruffle-dresses-with.html I appreciate the great tutorial!

  73. 73
    Lizzy says:

    This is the best gathers and ruffles tutorial I’ve found. Very clearly explained AND included attaching the ruffles. I would definitely recommend this to a friend.

  74. 74
    Leigh says:

    I just wanted to thank you for everything you do. Can’t tell you how much I love your site. I made my very first ruffle today with your help and successfully attached it to a dress for my little one — all thanks to you! The ombre T-shirt skirt is next. Thank you thank you thank you!!

  75. 75
    Laura says:

    I am the person you talked about … haven’t sewn in years and now I have time and want to start again. My daughter-in-law is planning a b’day party for our grandson and wants a gathered-skirted tablecloth. These instructions are just what I needed to get started.
    Now, if I can find instructions on how to make corners when attaching the gathered skirt to the flat tablecloth top. I’ll be all set.
    Thank you.

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    shyray says:

    OMG thank you so very very much!! U have just saved me hours! Why o why didn’t I think of that!

  77. 77
    Camille says:

    Hi Ashley ~ first, I just wanted to say thanks for “speaking” your writing. It’s always such a pleasure to read and “hear” at the same time. Know what I mean? (oh geez. I’ll bet your saying, “who IS this lunatic???”) Anyway, I found your site via a search for sewing ruffles. As you mentioned early on, there are loads of folks who may have (sewn) a million years ago…and then opted to give it another go. I’m one of those. I learned when I was a wee girl, took Home Ec in Junior High, made ALL my prom dresses (oh yes I did!) and then didn’t sew much until about a year ago. Got me-self a new machine and have been making darling little aprons and kids’ stuff ever since (am now also venturing into Doggie clothes…but that’s another story for another day.) What I’m wanting to say (my goodness, she IS a bit long-winded, eh?!) I went to several sites until I hit yours; and found this to be the PERFECT tutorial for myself. I’ll write you back after I’m done, but I’m quite sure it’s going to work beautifully. If I can see it in my head, I can do it. So…this long-winded message is to say thanks, on all kinds of levels.

    P.S. you are absolutely correct about the “riding a bike” thing. So true!

    P.P.S. just LOVED the “having a mini party in my chair”. I do the same thing when folks write me off my blog posts. Such a terrific feeling!

    Hugs, Bella ~
    Camille Olivia in the Grand & Glorious Foothills of the Palomar Mountains
    (giggles & snorts & a bunch of thread on my toes)

  78. 78
    Heather Ratliff says:

    My main reason for running two rows of gathering stitches (basting stitches) is that way you have a back up in case one breaks. Been there, done that. Will always run two rows because of it!

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    Keri says:

    Thank you so much for the simple directions! I did the “proper” way as I was making a gift. I made a ruffled skirt to go on an apron. I have taught myself how to sew over the last year or so using tutorials just like this one. Thank you so much!

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    Vickie says:

    Thank you so much!

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    thank you says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a beginner sewer and was wondering how I was going to sew the ruffle to the dress I just made (the pattern doesnt explain that well). Can not wait to go finish the dress with your clear and easy instructions.

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    Linda says:

    Thank you so very much for this tutorial!!!! I needed it and I will probably use the correct way just for more stability as I have been having problems with gathering.

  83. 83
    Alessandra says:

    Hi, I just wanted to say that this was extremely helpful! I’m new to sewing and want to make my own clothes because nothing fits and choosing my own fabric is way more fun, but I can’t get the gathering thing! Your words and pictures made it crystal clear! Now I just need some practice.

    Really though, with all the info on the web nothing has helped me understand this until now. So thank you!!

  84. 84
    Becky P says:

    Very clear and friendly tutorial! Thanks.

  85. 85
    Evie says:

    this is fist tutorial that really teach me gather:):)
    here are my sets

    http://sewing4sofia.com/?p=318

    Thank you:):)

  86. 86
    Kristi says:

    I love your blog! Thanks so much for this!

  87. 87
    kathy says:

    Thank you, I am making the runner for my daughter’s wedding. Burlap with a satin ruffle along the edges. 100 feet long, I have NEVER constructed anything like this before. Your tips are making me feel more confident about trying this out. I have untill the end of May so please wish me luck and thanks again. Any tips on needle size for burlap?

  88. 88
    Melissa says:

    Searched for a tutorial to make ruffles and found yours and you made it so clear. I am about to embark on sewing ruffled curtains and had no clue how to do it. Now I do! Thank you so much for sharing your skills with me.

  89. 89
    Marie Fievet says:

    A very elderly lady taught me her way to make gathers for any type of ruffle, easy and works every time. I use beading cord from the craft store and just lay it near the top edge of the fabric and sew across and along that piece of cord with a wide, long zigzag stitch. Secure cord at one end – I wrap it around a pin – then just pull the opposite end and adjust gathers to suit yourself. The one thing I cannot do using any method I have ever heard of is to keep the gathers exactly in place when I attach to main section of fabric. A way to do that is why I’m online trying to get suggestions about how best to do that.

  90. 90
    Lisa says:

    I’m so glad I found this tutorial. I am making 12 flamenco skirts for my daughter’s 1st grade dual immersion class for their annual program in April. I knew to use the basting stitch, but it’s very hard to sew it on and make it look pretty. This will help tremendously.

  91. 91
    Lynette says:

    Thank you, Thank you! I am making a tiered maxi skirt (like the white one you made for color your summer) and hopped over. I’m so glad I did! I will definitely be pinning before I pull those threads to get it even throughout the skirt! :)

  92. 92
    Kristi Mase says:

    This was very helpful! I am attempting to sew a bed skirt ruffle for a twin bed! The last time I attempted this was 22 years ago ! I am feeling a bit intimidated but your easy explanations and humor have lessened my stress :) Thank you! Happy 4th of July.

  93. 93
    Danny G says:

    So loving your site with all the sewing tips. Loved the buttons tip. I was sewing buttons by hand but thanks to your tip, I am now using the machine. Today, I will learn how to do gathering for a dog vest I am making. Thank you for the well illustrated tutorials. I normally like video tutorials, but I saw a video where you explain why you do make them :D funny.

  94. 94
    Amy says:

    You have just made my life a whole lot easier. I have learned more from your website, than any sewing class I have taken. Thank you :-)

  95. 95
    Rachel Costa says:

    Hey darling! I’m from Brasil. Forgive me for fail english! Thank u for the tips! You’re amazing and so funny! God bless you!

Notes and Comments