How to Add Ruffles to a Skirt – or Anything Else!

In this article, you will learn the basic principles for making and adding a ruffle to any item that you can sew.  You can repurpose a skirt or a dress, make a cushion, or a cute 1950s-inspired apron from some upcycled fabric. There are so many possibilities. Please enjoy the tutorial!

Before You Begin:

You will need 2.5 – 3 times the length of fabric for the ruffle that you require.  For an example: to make 12” of ruffles, you will need approximately 36” of fabric.

In the example shown, the fabric was cut 5” wide, to accommodate a doubled 1/2” hem on each long edge.  The finished ruffle will be 3” wide.

How to Sew Ruffles:

  1. Press both long edges under 1/2”, then 1” to create the hems.  Pin down if you desire.
  2. Using a 2mm stitch length, sew the hems in place on both long edges of your fabric.
  3. Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to 4mm or longer.  You will now use this stitch length to create the gathering stitches.
  4. Sew one line of 4mm stitching, just next to the hem on one long edge, through the single layer of fabric.  Leave a thread tail of at least 6” at each end.
  5. Sew a 2nd row of 4mm stitching 1/4” from the first line of stitching, through a single layer.  Leave a thread tail of at least 6” at each end.
  6. The hem will be outside of these 2 rows of 4mm gathering stitches.
  7. Holding the 2 top threads of stitching, pulling them both at once, gather your fabric until it is a nice ruffle.
  8. Mark your base fabric with a fold-line or a marker-line in the desired place, and pin the ruffle along this line.  You can be creative here, placing the ruffles straight, on an angle, or maybe even along a design in your fabric, as an accent.
  9. Change your needle setting back to 2mm and stitch the ruffle down, between the 2 gathering lines of stitching.  The double gathering line will now hold the seamline quite flat while you sew.
  10. After sewing the ruffle in place, remove the lines of 4mm gathering stitching, for a nice tidy finish.

If you don’t really want to do the hemming and do want to do some upcycled thrifting – use a beautiful long silk scarf (or a few) to make your ruffles with!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it has sparked some creative ideas for you!  Happy sewing friends.


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