If you love ruffles as much as I do then you probably gather a lot of ruffles for your projects. Knowing the best techniques for gathering ruffles is a must have whether you’re new to sewing or a seasoned seamstress.
Today I’m sharing 3 great techniques for gathering ruffles.
When this project began I only had 2 yards of the aqua damask to use for 3 pillows. It was a remnant and the last we could find. So, the hunt began for a coordinating fabric. It wasn’t easy. In fact it took a trip out of state to find the perfect match.
While I was looking around OKC, Lynda made a work trip to Dallas and found a polyester solid, a perfect match for our damask! We decided to use this solid for the back of each of the Euro pillows as well as the ruffle.
Above you can see three fabrics. The damask will be our pillow front and the solid aqua the pillow back. Because the aqua is quite thin I decided to line the pillow back to give it more stability.
I’m using a napped lining I use for lining window treatments. You can use any fabric, like a regular lining, a flannel or even doubling a thin fabric to give it extra stability.
Depending on how it’s made, many damask fabrics are reversible. In this case I had the choice of using the side where the velvet portion is the actual damask pattern or the reverse side where it is the background.
As you can see, because of the nap of the velvet this also gave us a choice on which look we wanted. The one on the left with the velvet background has a much lighter muted appearance. The one on the right, where the velvet is the damask pattern, has a bolder look. Both are beautiful but I chose to use the one on the right.
Techniques For Gathering Ruffles #1
How Much Fabric Is Needed?
The ruffles for the large Euro pillows are 4″ wide and 2 times full.
This means I add up the 4 sides of the pillow, in this case 24 x 4 = 96 and multiply by 2.
96 x 2 = 192″. Each ruffle needs to be approximately 192″ long.
The ruffles will be cut at 9″ (4″ folded over/doubled plus a 1/2″ seam allowance).
Most fabrics are 54″ wide. 4 widths of fabric will be enough to reach the 192″ needed.
4 widths of fabric x 9″ = 36″ or 1 yard of fabric for each pillow ruffle.
For these ruffles I used my ruffler attachment. The Janome Universal Ultimate Ruffler Accessory.
The ruffler attaches easily in place of the regular sewing foot and can be adjusted to achieve different size gathers.
When you line up the fabric and begin sewing…
the portion of the attachment shown above by the arrow begins to move back and forth…
picking up fabric and gathering/pleating it.
It’s that easy. It takes a little while to get the hang of it…and it makes a lot of noise…but it makes gathering ruffles SO EASY!
And soon you have an evenly gathered ruffle.
But of course the ruffler doesn’t work on all fabrics. It won’t work on thick fabrics and I’ve never been able to get it to work on velvet.
Techniques For Gathering Ruffles #2
This next technique is almost as easy. Not quite but almost.
All you need is strong, thin string and a zig-zag stitch.
I wish I had an exact product to recommend but I bought this string years ago and I honestly can’t remember where I got it! I can tell you it’s very similar to kite string.
If that helps.
Set your machine to the zig-zag stitch and line up your doubled fabric along the raw edges.
It’s always best to use a thread close in color to your fabric on the off chance the zig-zag stitch goes wide. You might see the occasional errant stitch once your pillow is finished.
Zig-Zag over the string for the entire length of the ruffle.
When making a ruffle you can connect the two ends of the ruffle to make one continuous circle before your attach it to your pillow.
You can attach the ruffle to your pillow and sew the ends together as the last step. I’ve done it both ways so whichever one is easier for you is fine.
Measure and evenly pin the ruffle to the pillow fabric (which of course will be a full size piece of fabric instead of the remnant I’m using above).
Many times, the more pins you use the easier it will be to evenly sew the ruffle to the pillow.
Begin by pulling the string at one end to begin gathering the ruffle.
Continue pulling, gathering and evenly distributing and pinning the ruffle along the fabric.
Sew ruffle to fabric.
Once you sew both sides of the pillow together you’ll have a beautifully gathered ruffle.
This technique creates a more random style of ruffle rather than the more precise pleated ruffle the Ruffler makes.
Techniques For Gathering Ruffles #3
The solid velvet pillow is mine but it matched so beautifully I had to include it in some of these photos.
On this pillow I hand gathered the ruffle. Handing gathering is simply gathering the fabric at the same time you sew the ruffle to the pillow top. With this velvet, and because I only gathered the corners, is was the easiest option.
For these pillow I used the Ruffler attachment and I love the way they turned out.
Velvet, damask, ruffles and tassels…the perfect combination for a collection of romantic pillows.
Which of these 3 techniques for gathering ruffles do you plan to use next?
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Lovely pillows. I have also zig-zagged over dental floss. it works particularly well when making dust ruffles. Just don’t use scented floss (ha ha) unless you want your bed to smell of mint.
Thank you, Beverly! And thanks for the dental floss tip. That’s a new one for me but a great idea!
Retha Pittman says
Love this tutorial. I had never thought of sectioning the areas to be ruffled. I love, love your tutorials.