Ok so you might have noticed that there have been an awful lot of RUFFLES showing up on ready to wear garments and home dec. furnishings for quite some time: must be at least the last 18 months – 2 years that ruffles have been HOT, HOT, HOT. Now I can make ruffles using the RUFFLER ATTACHMENT as well as I can quilt up a storm so that was nothing new. However, I had not previously sewed with RUFFLE FABRIC. I am sure ruffle fabric has been around a long time but as with most fashions, it comes & goes & reappears usually in a different form and/or colours to the previous time it was in fashion.

Skirt where the ruffles are cut on the diagonal. It does require affair amount of fabric.

Skirt where the ruffles are cut on the diagonal. It does require a fair amount of fabric.

I noticed the ruffle fabric on a couple of booths at shows last Fall. I was intrigued as I had been teaching a series of classes & demo’s using our RUFFLER ATTACHMENT so my mind went along the lines of “how can I use this fabric to add to what I am already doing with ruffles & pleats etc?” So, did I add ruffle fabric to my stash or what?? You guessed right!

ruffle skirt 2

The other ruffle skirt where the ruffles lie horizontally and much less fabric is required.

Leftover fabric makes a great scarf.
I finally got to making up 2 skirts a few weeks ago so I thought I would share with you what I learnt as I made these 2 great new additions to my summer closet (and the good news is that I have used up all the ruffle fabric in my stash!!):

One of the merchants selling ruffle fabric mentioned below has this little booklet - was most useful. Her website is

One of the merchants selling ruffle fabric mentioned below has this little booklet – was most useful. Her website is

  • The ruffle fabric I bought was polyester. I am sure it is probably available in cotton knit fabric though I have not come across this yet. The polyester is very soft and easy to work with…Well, if you like sewing with knit fabrics & know the tricks & tips for this, then the ruffle fabric will not be a stretch at all. If you live in a VERY hot area, polyester ruffle fabric may be a little uncomfortable to wear in the summer months as it will not “breathe” as natural fibres such as cotton allow.
The other merchant had her version of a similar booklet. Her website is on the scanned pic above.

The other merchant had her version of a similar booklet. Her website is on the scanned pic above.

  • I chose to use the instructions I obtained from the 2 merchants that I bought the ruffle fabric from. Both offered little booklets of how to sew ruffle fabric with pics & project ideas. You do not really need a tissue pattern….just be sure to cut the fabric out as instructed. My diagonal skirt worked wonderfully well. I am very pleased with it (the grey one). The other lilac/lavender coloured one is also lovely though I would have preferred to sew another diagonal ruffle skirt as I love the way the ruffles drape. However, I did not have enough fabric so I was limited to making one where the ruffles went horizontally around my body. I do believe that the grey skirt is more flattering than horizontal ruffles. Bear this in mind when choosing your style and purchase enough fabric.
  • You will need to invest in WONDER TAPE.   wonder tape        I must say that this has become a very firm favourite in my sewing room in the last year or 2 and I cannot imagine why I did not have & use it before!! It is a double sided narrow sticky tape which dissolves in water. It must have LOTS of different uses & applications: for example, I have used it many times rather than pins as it is so easy to sew without having to stop every so often to remove pins. Sometimes pins are not ideal anyway for a number of reasons. For the ruffles: Wonder tape is absolutely essential. It makes the “pinning” & sewing much easier and would be awfully fiddly if you did not have Wonder tape or a similar product.
  • Once you have the skirt piece cut out, shake the ruffles on one seam edge so that they all lay one way & gently lay down onto your working surface. Re-adjust any ruffles which might have moved. We are talking about the cut seam edge facing right side UP – the center back seam. These skirts only have one seam: the center back.
  •  Press the sticky side of Wonder Tape along the seam edge taking care not to stretch the fabric but just to press lightly in place.
  • The next step is a bit fiddly but MUCH easier than trying to unpick later when the ruffles are sewn untidily so be sure you do not miss this step:
  •  Peel the backing off the Wonder tape and gently press the sticky seam edge down onto the right side of the other fabric edge which you have also laid down carefully with ruffles all neatly going one way (same way as the first fabric edge). Ensure that the ruffles line up correctly and only firmly press the wonder tape in place when you are sure everything is lining up neatly. I opened the “seam” out to the right side and let it hang a few moments to check all my ruffles were behaving like good little children.
  •  Then I pressed the wonder tape firmly between the 2 fabric edges of my seam – right sides together with wonder tape between.
  • I adjusted my straight stitch to 3 or 3.5 stitch length to add a little “give” to my stitching. You could certainly use a serger for this step. I, however, did not as I know that the ruffle fabric is not going to unravel and so my seam edges did not need to be neatened other than cutting them straight & a little narrower after sewing. But the choice is yours. I certainly would not use a thick overcasting stitch to neaten the seam. If I was to use an ELNA serger to sew the seam, I would ensure that I used a 3 or 4 thread overedge seam with my stitch length opened up a little. I would also definitely adjust the differential feed to prevent stretching & the resulting “rippled/wavy” seams.
  • I sewed this using my walking foot (or ACUFEED/ACUFEED FLEX SYSTEM available on Elna models  EL7300; EL740; EL730 & EL760) which just gives me that extra confidence that my layers will feed evenly & not shift to end up with mis-aligned ruffles. Much like when you use the walking foot to ensure plaids & stripes line up perfectly.
  • You can simply leave the Wonder tape in the seam as it will wash out the first time you launder the garment.
  • The next step is to attach the elastic band to the waist line. I purchased grey & lilac matching waist elastic from the merchants who sold me the fabric. It is special, soft, non-curl elastic which is pinned in quarters around the waist line and just overlapping about 1/2 inch on the outside (right side) of the garment. I sewed the elastic in the round in the correct size I needed & neatened the raw edges of the elastic with a wide zig-zag. You could also sew the elastic onto the skirt using a 2 thread narrow or wide coverhem stitch. The advantage of this is that the coverhem allows a little bit of stretch to the stitching which is useful when you pull the skirt on & off over your hips.
  • The ELNA 444 COVERHEM SERGER offers a whole lot of space to the right of the needles so doing coverhem on these skirts is a breeze. You are not hampered with a teeny space like most coverhem sergers offer.
  • Divide both the elastic & skirt waistline into quarters to ensure that the easing is spread evenly around the skirt waistline.
  • Take care NOT to stretch the ruffle fabric on the waistline as you may end up with gathers or tucks of excess fabric you had not intended. There should not be a whole lot of stretching of the elastic as you sew it down onto the ruffle fabric – just a gentle, even easing all the way around. I used the elastic stitch (you could also use an open zig-zag stitch) for this in a thread colour matching the elastic.
  • Lastly, the hemline needed attention: very little attention actually as you do not need to sew it at all. I merely put the skirt on & noticed where the ruffles needed a little bit of a “hair cut” . Basically I just evened the edge off so that I did not have an uneven hem edge. The fabric does not unravel so that is ALL you need to do. I would NOT suggest turning up the raw edge & hemming – way too bulky & unnecessary anyway.
  • Voila – it is done & ready to wear. That took me just over an hour from cutting out to modelling it in front of my sewing room mirror!
  • When making the skirt with horizontal ruffles, be sure to cut the “base” fabric between the ruffles for a clean, neat edge at the top where you will apply the elastic and at the hemline. You should not need to cut the hemline straight if you cut the garment out correctly and then sew so that the seam edges line up well.
  • I made 3 scarves with the left over fabric – they look great whether the ruffles are going longitudinally or across the short edge of the scarf. Again, just cut out, no sewing is needed!

About lizafrica

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada (including Artistic Creative products) and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for almost 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to read, knit , travel and spend time with my family and friends.

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