Have you ever searched the world over to find the perfect comforter for your bedroom only to bring it home and discover it’s too short?
I’m not sure if the problem is the big, pillow top mattresses we have these days or the comforter people trying to save on fabric?
Either way, we tend to make do with the front side of the bed looking beautiful while the back side is hiked up showing the sheets.
Comforters are, of course, sewn together, usually with decorative stitching holding all the comfy layers in place. Taking it apart to add anything to lengthen it would be a nightmare.
For several of my clients, I’ve found the answer is to add a 6″ gathered ruffle, or a flat flange depending on their preference, to the outer edge of the comforter. Ultimately, how we attach this ruffle depends on how the comforter is made.
Today’s solution also involves a ruffle that’s a bit different because this ruffle is HUGE!
Technically 12″ doesn’t qualify as huge but it sure seemed huge while I making it!
As I mentioned above, most comforters would only need a 6″ ruffle. In this case, Cynthia wanted to lengthen her comforter by 12″. Since we would be gathering the fabric, I strongly encouraged her to chose a moderately thin fabric for this project.
As it happens for many of us, Cynthia found the perfect fabric in both color and design for her project. It complimented the comforter beautifully!
It just didn’t fall into the “thin” category.
Which made this task just a tad more difficult than it might have been.
HINT: If at all possible, I strongly encourage you to choose a thinner fabric if you tackle this project. You’ll thank me later.
The edge of Cynthia’s comforter was finished with a tiny, twisted cord. For this type of edge the best option was to attach the new ruffle behind the cord so the cord is still visible.
RUFFLE & COMFORTER DETAILS
Queen Comforter 92″ wide x 96″ long with new ruffle being attached to 3 sides.
96+92+96 (3 sides of comforter) = 284″
Figuring the Fullness of the Ruffle
I figured the ruffle for both 2 times fullness and 1.5 times fullness
284″ x 2 = 568″ ÷ 54″ (fabric width) =10.518 widths – 11 widths.
284″ x 1.5 = 426″ ÷ 54″ = 7.88 – 8 widths.
2 times full was too much due to the thickness of the fabric.
1.5 times full didn’t seem like enough.
So I used 9 widths of fabric which gave me 3 widths of fabric for each side of the comforter.
The finished ruffle was to be 12″ long.
- Each width of fabric was cut 25″ long and all 9 widths sewn together creating one long strip of fabric approximately 25″ x 480″.
- The long strip was then folded in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sewn together.
- This creates one long “tube” of fabric 24″ wide and open on each end.
HINT: You can also create 3 separate sections if you prefer. One section containing 3 widths of fabric for each side. This method leaves a split at each corner (similar to a split corner bedskirt). I liked the idea of one continuous ruffle.
Hindsight: 3 sections would have been much easier.
- After creating the “tube” of fabric iron the seam flat as shown in the above photo.
- The next step is turning the “tube” right side out.
- This was like wrestling one of those heinous creatures from the movie Tremors. This is one of the reasons I said in Hindsight it would have been easier to make this in 3 sections.
- Next, I twisted the “tube” so the seam, instead of being at the edge of my ruffle, was instead 2.5″ from the edge as shown above.
- Iron entire ruffle, to give you a noticeable fold. This helps insure the ruffle doesn’t twist as you continue.
THE REASON FOR REPOSITIONING THE SEAM
Due to the thickness of the fabric, if the seam is left at the edge you will be gathering the ruffle through the seam and through 4 layers of fabric. As well as attaching the ruffle through all these layers. This would be almost impossible. Instead, by repositioning the seam down about 2.5″ on the backside of the ruffle we avoid sewing through all these additional layers.
HINT: The ruffle can also be made using one thickness of fabric with a folded hem. For our ruffle we didn’t want to see a hem. We wanted a nice clean edge. Also, since we don’t have the option of attaching the ruffle within a seam, like with a traditional sewing project, you would have a raw edge on the back side of the comforter. (see below)
This method avoids both the visible hem and a raw edge.
FINISHING THE ENDS OF THE RUFFLE
- Once the ruffle edges are iron flat, turn under the raw edges at each end of the ruffle and top stitch in place.
Above you can see the two closed ends of the ruffle.
GATHERING THE RUFFLE
- The best technique for gathering a large project like this is by zigzagging over a strong string. Above left, I placed WWW to mimic the zig-zag stitch over the string.
- I zigzagged the gathering thread on the top side of the ruffle. In this case, it was easier to gather and attach from this side. You can also place the gathering thread on the back side of the ruffle.
PINNING THE RUFFLE IN PLACE
Recall, I’m using 3 widths of fabric for each side of my comforter.
- Measure and place pins to dictate evenly divided spaces along one side of the comforter.
- Measure and place pins to dictate evenly divided lengths along 3 widths of the ruffle.
- Evenly space and pin ruffle, along one side of comforter. You will be pinning the ruffle right side up, 1/2″ under the cording along the edge of the comforter. (see photos below)
- Gently begin to pull string from one end to begin gathering ruffle.
- At the seam at the end of the 3 widths of fabric, gently pull string to gather ruffle from this end.
HINT: You may need to occasionally unpin ruffle as you gather. Be sure to replace pins marking the evenly divided space.
As you pull the string will get longer. At this point, you can cut the string in half. The other half will be used to gather the next section.
As you pull the string, evenly space gathers and use additional pins as needed.
Place pins about every 4″ to 6″.
Once gathers are evenly spaced and pinned you’re ready to stitch the ruffle in place.
This is not a project for a tight space…or weak arms.
This method is completely backwards to how we would normally attach a ruffle. In this case, I wanted to keep the decorative cording as part of the finished project so attaching the ruffle this way may be a bit tricky but it can definitely be done.
This process works best at a slow pace, carefully positioning the ruffle every few inches ahead of the needle.
- I began with a size 14 needle. Broke a few, tried a 16 needle, bent a few and went back to a 14.
- Due to the problem of broken and bent needles I experimented by lowering the feed dogs on my machine. Feed dogs are notched rows of metal just below the foot that feeds material into position under the needle. This resulted in more of a manual feed but also a smoother feed due to the thickness of the fabrics.
- I did end up with several gaps that I had to go back and correct. As much as I tried to position the ruffle as I sewed it still shifted a resulting in missed sections. But this was easily fixed.
HINT: If the comforter has a plain edge or you don’t care if the decorative cord shows you can place both comforter and ruffle right sides together and sew together using a 1/2″ seam.
THE BACK SIDE
The reverse side of the comforter shows the repositioned seam as well as where the ruffle was attached.
Occasionally the stitching and gathering thread wanted to peek out where the ruffle wasn’t completely tucked up in place. In this case I either undid the stitching and restitched or simply removed the gathering thread so you couldn’t see it.
I placed the comforter on my bed to take these pics. Above you can see my bedskirt below the ruffle to give you an idea of how long it is.
This is how it will appear on Cynthia’s bed.
If you have the perfect comforter for your decor, but it’s not quite long enough, this could be the answer for you.
Ruffles in any length and fullness
A flat flange, pleated at the corners for a more tailored look
Purchased trim – ruffled, pleated or beaded.
Remember to keep the thickness of your fabric in mind when choosing fabric for this project!
Don’t shy away from this project!
It really is a great option for those perfect-in-every-way-but-length comforters!
If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment section below. I’ll be sure to answer for all to see!