Jan 20, 2011

Make it: Ruffles!

 You know how on amazing design blogs people post these incredibly well-lit pictures of little corners in their home where everything looks fresh out of an Anthopologie window display and you think to yourself: "Dude, my apartment looks like crap. Why am I reading this when I could be cleaning?" But then you click anyway....that's called procrastination.

My home doesn't look like that. It looks like this (see left). Piles of toys and in the far left corner the foot of a child who is screaming at me, "Mama, I need a tissue!!" Thus, my is-it-over-yet face.

Anyway, this isn't about how messy my apartment is, though as I type it is getting messier by the moment. It's about ruffles!

Because ruffles make everything better. Aprons. Tops. Underpants. Even chips:
 Mmmm, chips. Anyway, if you have something boring or something that needs a little length added to it (kid's dresses getting too short and you're too cheap/poor to buy new ones? I understand.) a ruffle is an easy fix. Plus they're charming as all get out, right? And all you need is a few strips of fabric — as long as it's not too stiff, you can turn it into a ruffle.

1. First measure the length of the area you want to ruffelize (pretty sure that's a word) using your measuring tape. I added a ruffle along the curved hem of my apron above. The length was 44 inches (coincidentally that's also the measurement my 2-year-old gives whenever she measures anything, weirdo). Now double that measurement (88 inches, math geniuses) and that's the length you need to make your ruffle strip. Doubling the length will give you a really ruffly ruffle. If you don't have enough fabric or want less rufflyness (also a word), you can increase your length by a half instead: so in my case 66 inches. That's what I did.

I didn't have any white cotton that measured 66 inches long, so I cut a few strips and then sewed them together. Allowing for seam allowances widthwise (1/2 inch on either side), I cut three strips, each 2.5 inches by 22 inches. Use a ruler and a rolly cutter (that's what they're called, right?) if you have it:

2. If you have a strip that's as long as you need it to be, ignore this step. I sewed my three strips together, like so, clipping my seam allowances and pressing with an iron:
3. Now, if you using a fabric that doesn't fray (or maybe you're going for that look; I don't judge), don't bother with this following step either. Otherwise, get out your iron and press under your seam allowance 1/4 inch. Roll it over one more time and press again. This will tuck in the edge of the ruffle that will show. NO fraying! Sew it down using a regular old straight stitch:
It should look something like this now:
4. Now for the rufflizing! Set the straight stitch on your machine to a nice big stitch. Turn your ruffle strip around and — leaving a nice long tail of thread — straight stitch the entire length of the ruffle 1/2 inch from the raw edge. DON'T backstitch at the beginning or end of your stitches. Pull your ruffle away from the machine and again give yourself a long tail of thread before cutting it free. You need that tail to help you gather the fabric along the stitches. AND THEN: sew ANOTHER row of stitches 1/4 inch from the raw edge, again leaving yourself long tails of thread at both ends.
5. Here's the fun part: starting at one end, grab the top two tails of thread and start pushing your ruffle strip along the thread so it bunches up. As you go, the tails of thread will get longer and the ruffle will get shorter. Keep bunching and spreading the fabric down the thread toward the center of the strip. Make it as even as you can. Once you've gathered it on the one side, flip it over, grab the top two thread tails and start gathering from the other side. Keep gathering until your ruffle measures the length you need (for me, I needed a 22-inch ruffle, remember?). Once you have a ruffle the right length, tie the thread tails into knots so the ruffle will retain its proper length as you pin it to the garment or whatever it is you are rufflizing.

6. Last step: Pin your ruffle to the item you are rufflizing and then sew it down using a normal straight stitch. If you sew just outside the gathering stitches they won't show once it's all done.
Let's see that ruffle again!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome tutorial, I want to incorporate this into one of my TNT patterns and give it a go :)



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