Learn to Sew #5: How to Sew Ruffles

When I was a little girl I didn’t want a thing to do with anything ruffly or anything pink. (I grew up with 4 brothers-there wasn’t much girlyness in my house.) I think those repressed feelings or my childhood are coming out now because these days I LOVE anything pink and these ruffles are fun. So, today, for Lesson #5 of our Learn to Sew series, let me teach you how to sew ruffles. Then you can add them to anything.

Now, let’s sew some ruffles!

Sewing Ruffles

Learn to Sew: How to Sew Ruffles:

Making ruffles that you can add to a skirt or an apron or a cute tote bag is not too difficult.

Start out by preparing your fabric. You will need to cut it to the length indicated on whatever pattern you are using. Usually you are also probably going to be asked to hem your fabric before you create the ruffle. Get all of that done before you do the next steps.

With your fabric ready, run a long baste stitch along the top edge of your fabric. DO NOT back stitch to knot your thread. Leave the threads long and hanging on either end. Now run a second baste stitch (again, don’t knot) just below the first one you did. Again, leave your threads long.

How to Sew ruffles

Now, grab hold of the top two threads. Leave the back two threads hanging.


Now you will gently tug your threads and slide your fabric down them. Do this very gently-you don’t want to break your thread.


Keep doing this, sliding your fabric further down and evening it out as you go so that in the end it looks like this:


The more you slide the fabric the more ruffle you are going to have. Soon, you will have a cute little ruffle. Just even out the ruffling as needed and you are done.  Ruffle

Now, often your pattern is going to want you to form a loop with the ruffle you just made. To do this you will simply make sure that you have your ruffle at the length indicated on your pattern (to adjust just slide the fabric on the thread to make it longer or shorter) and then put the ends of your fabric together with right sides touching and sew along the edges (this time with a regular straight stitch.)Sewsides

Now let’s add those ruffles to something shall we? I’ve got 2 project options again this week. Originally I had planned on the apron, but when I made it I realized it might be a little complicated for new sewers. It’s not necessarily really hard, and you have all the skills needed, but it is a long project. It took me about 2 hours and that’s a loooong time for a project for me.

So, if you want to keep it simple this week, I recommend this Ruffle Tote Bag. It’s pretty easy and turns out adorable!

Ruffle Tote Bag

If you are feeling ambitious, try this ruffle apron:

Ruffle Apron

Step by Step instructions on how to sew ruffles

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Hey there! I'm Amber, mom of 4 crazy boys, wife of 1 and non-stop, always busy, crazy project doer. (There's a reason why we call it *Crazy* Little Projects.) I love chocolate, reading, sewing and being with people!

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  1. says

    I absolutely love your blog and the way you explain everything!!! Makes it so easy for us to learn!!! Loved the Science Fair and Northern Lights :)

  2. Allison P says

    I always thought gathering the ruffle would be the hard part–instead it’s the super looooong hem! I’m seriously considering a serger so I can do a rolled hem if I make too many more ruffles!

  3. Kim H says

    I made the apron and it was a fun thing to do, despite the time needed (you were right!). I learned a lot of lessons along the way the hard way, but it was satisfying to know I could make something like this. Thanks again for all these tutorials!

  4. Mahala Hunter says

    Thanks for the giveaway!!!! Making a quilt is on my list of things to learn this year. Thank you for inspiring us to sew more. :)

  5. Cris says

    I’m behind this week since I had family in town for a b-day celebration. I think I am leaning towards the tote bag because I could totally give it to my aunt for her upcoming birthday. Thank you for such fun and informative lessons!!

  6. Lorie M says

    I have not started my bag yet, still waiting on my fabric order to arrive, but the ruffles do make me nervous. I am looking forward to testing out, I’m hoping to make 3 matching bags for my sister, my Mom and myself for an upcoming vacation.
    Thanks again Amber for all your work with these tutorials, I am LOVING them :)

  7. Mary Jane says

    2 questions:

    “Now, grab hold of the top two threads. Leave the back two threads hanging.”

    By “back,” do you mean the 2 threads at the BOTTOM (the 2nd seam)? This is what it looks like in the picture, but I was thinking the top 2 threads of each seam.

    Also, once the ruffle is completed, do we sew another seam (catching the ruffles with the needle), then pull out the basting threads?

    I hope these questions make sense. Thank you so much!

    • Amber says

      Yes, I meant bottom. :) Once the ruffle is complete you can sew it in place on the bag and that will hold the ruffle.

  8. Di says

    Your blog is so clear and helpful. I’m new to using a sewing machine and love your step by step teaching. Thank you

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