Sewing Ruffles & Sewing Gathers  

Sewing Ruffles

Sewing ruffles and gathers add a charming design detail to your sewing projects. Whether you are sewing curtains or a garment to wear, pleats, gathers, and ruffles add charm and sophistication. 

First Step To sewing ruffles

Before you even start to sew, consider what you are gathering. This will determine how much ruffle or gather is needed. How much ruffle do you want or can you achieve. Different fabrics will determine how full your ruffles will be. A heavy wool for instance, is not a good choice for dense gathers, even pleats will need to be wide or you will end up with a large amount of fabric used and a heavy garment or home decor project. 

Lighter fabrics are easiest to gather, or ruffle, or even sewing pleats, however, most fabrics can be used for this detail. 

A full ruffle is generally 2 times the width of the finished garment. What does this mean? If your finished width is 30 inches, you will need to cut your gathered fabric double that number, which will be 60 inches. If you want a less full gather, a standard choice is 1 1/2 inch. So if your finished width is 30 inches, you would cut the fabric to be gathered, 45 inches and so on. 

Play around with this it is not an exact science. You just need to know a good approximate for how full your gathers should be. 

Gathering Method

Sewing gathers can be done by sewing two straight seams parallel to each other at 2/8" and 4/8" from the edge of the seam allowance. I sew two straight seams because it makes a nice even seam allowance when you sew seam together.

Also, if one row of stitching breaks, you don't have to take every thing out and re sew your stitching because you have the other row of stitching still in tact.

Once you have your stitching sewn, you pull the bottom threads, as in the photo, and keep pulling until you have the desired amount of gathering. It is important to pay attention to the consistency of the ruffles. When you sew the ruffle permanently, the gathers should be even. It will not look professional if you don't.

Gathering FabricSewing Gathers
Gathering Fabric

The other method of gathering is using a gathering foot

If you have a lot of gathering to do, I recommend this machine foot. Some of the projects I have made, have required a large amount of gathering,and this accessory made it so much faster and easier to gather.

I do not use the gathering foot for small jobs. I use the first method. They are both great ways to gather for these reasons.

Making Ruffles with a Gathering Foot

gathering foot

Finished gathers using the gathering foot

gathering by machine

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