During the course of a seamstress’s life, you will learn a lot of different tricks. Sometimes you’ll learn multiple tricks to achieve the same effect. And every seamstress is different, so what works best for one might require a completely different approach for another. Over the years, I have learned 3 awesome ways to create a gather or ruffle without a specialty foot. I’m going to share these methods with you. And maybe one of them will make your sewing life easier! And there are SO many Bella Sunshine patterns that you can use these methods on!
3 Paths to Ruffled Bliss
Using basting stitches
The first way I will explain is how I think most sewists learn to gather. That method is to sew 2 rows of basting stitches about 1/8″ to 1/4″ apart and then pull on the bobbin threads to create your gathers. There are both pros and cons to this method. Pros are it’s one of the faster methods to stitch and is a pretty universally known method for gathering. It’s also great when you only have a short ruffle to make. The biggest con is if a thread gets caught up and breaks (which happens to me a LOT) you have to start all over again. It isn’t ideal for longer ruffles or for more difficult/heavier fabric types.
Using Clear Elastic
This method is a little newer to me. First, you take a piece of clear elastic about the length (or slightly shorter) than the finished length you want your ruffle to be. Stitch that to the fabric you need to ruffle with a zig-zag stitch. Stretch the elastic evenly as you go. When you’re done, the elastic should contract, leaving you with a nice ruffle. You can then attach it to where it needs to be! This is a VERY easy way of ruffling/gathering and works very well on shorter pieces, like in the waistband of Amelia! You also don’t have to worry about threads breaking, which is awesome! I haven’t personally tried it on longer pieces, so I can’t speak to how well it does for that. Yet. I will someday, though. If you’re more of a visual person, here’s a video on how to do it this way!
The Zig-Zag Method
This is by far my personal preferred method of ruffling and I use it ALL the time. I will try to explain, but there’s also an awesome video demonstration here. The first thing you want to do is set your machine to a wide zig-zag and position your fabric so that the zig zag will stitch within your seam allowance. Lower your needle and pull it back up once, catching the bobbin thread and pulling it through to the top of your fabric. Pull those 2 threads out long, the length of the unruffled piece that you’re working with.
Once you have that done, you’re ready to stitch! Just stitch a zig-zag crossing over those 2 threads without catching them for the length of the fabric. Back-stitch at the end to secure the zigzag and cut the stitch threads, but NOT those center threads. Take it off the machine and pull on those center threads. Tah-Dah! Instant ruffle! This is a little more time consuming with the setup and stitching than other methods (con). But I find it the sturdiest and easiest way to create and easily position gathers for just about any project (BIG pro). I found is especially useful when I made my daughter’s Easter Juliet Flutter Dress!
Now that you know all of my dirty little ruffling secrets, I hope you will use them to create your own stunning ruffled masterpieces! And if you’re using ruffles on any of the amazing Bella Sunshine patterns we offer, don’t forget to share them with us in the Facebook group! We LOVE seeing your creations!