The Fastest, Simplist, {dare I say?} BEST Way to Make A Fabric Ruffle

Okay, so I am slightly behind schedule on posting this little how-to-make-a-fabric-ruffle tutorial…

Let’s see, if memory serves (and by “memory,” I mean the infallible accountability nazi of blog post date stamps), I mentioned this tutorial back on March 16th, planning to post it on March 19th (the following Monday). Ahem [tugging at collar], so just a smidge behind on that plan. Wups.

Okay, so although I’m sure there are a bevy of ruffling tutorials out there, I’ve not seen any this simple, so at the risk of posting something that’s already been done, I shall trudge on and share how I do mine! 🙂

Of course, the absolute fastest way to ruffle is to just get one of these bad boys. I received one last year as a gift; they are relatively inexpensive (about $25), are easy to switch out, and work like a charm. Of course, you cannot tweak the exact width of your ruffled fabric, so it takes some getting used to. And–to be honest–it’s not really so much a ruffler as it is a micro-pleater. Maybe this is splitting hairs, but you know, if you’re going to be a purist… Anyhoo, click the link above if that’s your fancy, and you should shoot straight over to Amazon where you can pick one up for your li’l ol’ self. Otherwise, read on! 🙂

Okay, so first you need some fabric to ruffle. I cut this aqua/brown fabric to about twice the width of the brown corduroy (which I am using as the waistband in a cute skirt tutorial I’m planning on posting next week). [These three pieces are each folded in half so they will easily fit in the photo, and the reason there are two lengths of the aqua-brown fabric is because the width of a bolt was not enough fabric.]

I sewed the two aqua-brown pieces right sides together to make one uber-long strip. [If you are using a linear pattern fabric, make sure the pattern in your two fabrics lines up. See how the aqua flowers line up the whole length of this strip?]

Then I set my machine to the loosest stitch (left dial, meaning the thread is not pulled tight) and my widest stitch (right dial, meaning my stitches are big, not itty-bitty).

[Incidentally, I happened to have brown thread on top (my needle) and white thread on the bottom (in my bobbin), which makes it easier to keep track of your pulling thread, when you get to that point, if that helps.] 🙂

Next, I simply sewed all the way along one long edge of the fabric without backstitching/locking my start and end points.

Once you’ve run a stitch the whole length of your fabric, remove from the machine and gently start pulling the bottom/bobbin thread (if you’re not sure which this is, try each one… the correct one is the one that causes the fabric to bunch when pulled). I usually wrap the pulling thread around my index finger for each pull so it doesn’t slip.

Next, scoot your bunched fabric to the right by holding on to the pulling thread wrapped around your left pointer while sliding the fabric over with your right hand.

Keep on bunching and scooting until the whole width of your fabric is ruffled. Be careful NOT to tug your thread too hard. There is no agony like the weeping and gnashing of teeth produced when you snap your thread when you’re halfway through ruffling and have to start all over. [Incidentally, I’ve seen tutorials where they recommend running two rows of stitches instead of one to safeguard against this very problem. But I’m a wild one, you see. “Danger Clem,” they call me. I live my life on the edge… Well, my sewing life, anyway.]  😉

And there you have it: ruffled fabric! Huzzah! You can tweak it with further scooching until it is the right width for your waistband (or pants leg or whatever you’re adding the ruffle to). Then you can sew straight over the top of your loose stitch to lock everything in place, or skip straight to putting it right-sides-together with the fabric to which you are attaching it (waistband or pants leg or whatever).

Here’s a sneak peek at the cuteness tutorial coming next week where this particular ruffle found gainful employment. Wheeeeeee!

And, meanwhile, GUESS what we’re doing tomorrow around here at CampClem? NOTHING! Gloriously wonderfully marvelously nothing. No dinners, no soccer games, no nothin’. For the first time in as long as I can remember. I might just stay in my jammies until noon. It will be marvelous.

So, what do you have in the hopper for the weekend?


If you’re feeling crafty, you might want to whip something up, yes?!  Here are some links to help you on your way…


18 responses to “The Fastest, Simplist, {dare I say?} BEST Way to Make A Fabric Ruffle

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  3. Thank you for the ruffle tutorial!! I’m off to try it right now….time to do something with hoard *ahem* I mean “collection” of fabric.


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  6. Thank you for your tutorials!! I am attempting the ruffle shorts & was wondering… is there by chance some kind of trick on how to know how much fabric you will need for a ruffle? double the width of the pant leg??


    • If you have a ruffler foot on your sewing machine, it can really eat it up, but if you are pulling it by hand (like this tutorial), it depends how ruffled you want the ruffles. I like a 2:1 ration (so twice as much width–all the way around–as the leg opening you are ruffling). Hope that helps!


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