how to sew ruffles

How to Sew Ruffles

If you want to add a touch of whimsy and elegance to your sewing projects, learning how to sew ruffles is a must-have skill. Whether dressing up a blouse, embellishing a throw pillow, or creating a cascading skirt, ruffles can instantly elevate your creations. To become an expert in ruffling, just follow these easy steps.

  • Determine the amount of fabric needed and the desired width of your ruffle
  • Prepare the ruffle strip by finishing the long, raw edges
  • Use a gathering stitch or gathering foot to create the perfect ruffles
  • Attach the gathered ruffle to your base fabric
  • Finish the ruffle edge for a polished look
  • Add additional ruffled layers for more dramatic effect (optional)

Calculating Fabric Needed and Ruffle Width

Before you begin, it’s essential to determine the amount of fabric required for your ruffle and the desired finished width. As a general rule, you’ll want to cut a fabric strip that is 2-3 times the length of your finished ruffle. The width of the strip should be 2-3 times the desired finished width of the ruffle.

For example, if your finished ruffle needs to be 20 inches long, you’ll want to cut a fabric strip that is approximately 40-60 inches long. If the desired finished width is 2 inches, you’ll want to cut a 4-6 inches wide strip.

Preparing the Ruffle Strip

Once you’ve cut your fabric strip, it’s time to finish the long, raw edges. You can do this by hemming, serging, or using a narrow zigzag stitch. This will help prevent fraying as you gather the fabric.

Gathering the Ruffle

Gathering the Ruffle
Photo credit: pexels

Gathering the fabric strip is necessary to achieve the ruffled effect. The easiest way to do this is by sewing a long basting stitch (the longest stitch length on your sewing machine) along the top edge of the fabric strip, leaving long thread tails at each end. To evenly distribute the gathers, gently pull the bobbin thread while gathering the fabric.

Alternatively, you can use a gathering foot on your sewing machine to create the gathers. Simply feed the fabric through the foot, and it will gather the fabric for you as you sew.

Attaching the Ruffle

With your ruffle gathered, it’s time to attach it to your base fabric. Pin or baste the ruffle to the base fabric, ensuring their raw edges are aligned. Stitch the ruffle to the fabric, adjusting the gathers for an even, smooth finish.

Finishing the Ruffle Edge

For a professional look, you can finish the raw edge of the ruffle by either hemming it, serging it, or using another decorative edging technique. Preventing fraying is important to ensure a neat and refined look for your project. This can be achieved by following specific steps and methods.

Adding Additional Ruffles (Optional)

If you’d like to create a more dramatic, layered effect, you can repeat the process to add additional ruffled layers. Try varying the width or placement of the ruffles for visual interest.


What type of fabric works best for sewing ruffles?

Lightweight, drapey fabrics like cotton, chiffon, or lawn work best for creating ruffles. Avoid stiff or bulky fabrics that won’t gather quickly.

How do I ensure my ruffles are evenly distributed?

When gathering the fabric, pull the bobbin thread gently and evenly to distribute the gathers. A gathering foot on your sewing machine can help you create evenly spaced ruffles.

Can I sew ruffles on curved edges?

Absolutely! Ruffles look lovely when sewn onto curved areas like necklines or hems. Just ease the ruffle fabric to fit the curve as you sew.

How do I get crisp, defined ruffles?

Try pressing the gathered fabric with a hot iron before attaching it to your project for sharp, defined ruffles. This will help the ruffles hold their shape.

Can I layer multiple rows of ruffles?

Yes! Layering ruffles is a great way to add drama and dimension to your sewing. Simply repeat the gathering and attachment process to build up your ruffled look.


Ready to take your sewing to new frilly heights? Follow our step-by-step guide and start incorporating dreamy ruffles into all your projects!


Main image: pexels

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 249

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