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Are You Interested In Bringing A Feeling Of Romance Into Your Life? Then Read All About Sewing Ruffles, Gathers and Shirring!


Soft fabrics are particularly suited for gathering. The fullness of the fabric is taken up into a small space, which gives a nice decorative effect. Heavier fabrics are more difficult to gather in stead pleats and tucks are used to get different effects. Gathers and ruffles are best done on bias and crosswise threads.  

 Basic sewing techniques - sewing gathers, ruffles and shirring

sewing gathers Hand gathers – use double thread and start with a knot. Make a row of small running stitches; pull them up to fit, and wind the thread around a pin till stitched. 


sewing gathersMachine gathers – are done like hand gathers, but with longest machine stitch. Tie threads at one end, and pull bobbin thread at other end, to gather. Machine gathering foot will gather and stitch fullness. 


shirringShirring – is gathering done with three or more parallel lines of gathering. Elastic thread can be used in the bobbin for it shirrs as it stitches. 


 stroking gathersStroking gathers – use needle or pin across folds to straighten material under gathering, and to space gather evenly. Be careful with sharp pin points on delicate materials. 


 spacing gathers Spacing gathers – divide gathering space into several equal portions and do the same for material to which gathered part is to be attached.  


 gathersGathering stay – is a facing piece used under many rows of gathers to hold shirring in place. Cut out a piece wide enough for gathering portion, turn under raw edges, and hem to wrong side. 


Sewing Basics - shirringcorded shirringCorded shirring – stitch tucks wide enough to hold cord of desired size. Run in cord with bodkin or safety pin, and pull up cord to fit, when cord is pulled up, it gives shirred effect. Or, mark line for corded shirring on fabric, and fold fabric over cord on marking. Stitch with cording foot and pull up cord to size. 


tucked shirringTucked shirring – baste tucks and gather through two thicknesses. 


sewing rufflesRuffles – are gathered strips of varying widths used as trimming. Fullness is most often 1½ times space into which ruffle is to be sewn. Cut out strips and seam short ends together to get piece of desired size. Finish lower edge of ruffle with narrow hand roll hem, lace, binding etc. With a little practice, marvelous results can be achieved with a machine ruffle, which ruffles and stitches the ruffle to the garment at the same time. 


 making rufflesDouble ruffle – Both ends are finished and the ruffle is gathered through the center sometimes with ribbon stitched on over gathering. 


circular ruffle Circular ruffle – cut out ruffle in shape of s semi-circle. Hem longer edge or finish in Basic sewing techniques - sewing a circular ruffledesired way. Baste ruffle to garment, right sides together, with ruffle held straight. Clip edge of ruffle to prevent pulling. (A circular flounce is similar but usually has less fullness.) Sew with a plain seam or top stitch on the right side.




Applying ruffles 


  1. Bias binding. Baste ruffle to garment, wrong side of ruffle to right side of garment, ruffle facing down. Baste binding on seam line, right sides of binding and ruffle together, stitch all three thicknesses at one time. Turn binding up over seam and hem to position. Used to accent joining.  
  1. Felled seam. Sew ruffle to fabric, wrong sides together, with plain material ¼ inch beyond ruffles (1). Turn ruffles down, press seam down, turn in edge of garment over seam, baste and stitch (2). Used for curtains, children’s clothes, etc.  
  1. French seam. The seam is stitched on the right side and the allowance is cut to ½ inch. Turn to wrong side and stitch again. Good for applying ruffles to curtains or collars and cuffs that are not faced and are of single thickness.  
  1. Tuck. Stitch a tuck ¾ inch from the edge of the garment. Attach ruffle ¼ inch from edge, wrong side of ruffle to right side of garment, press seam down. Bring tuck over to cover stitching and stitch close to the fold.   
  1. Self-finish. Crease garment ¾ inch from edge, fold to right side. Attach ruffle ¼ inch and baste over stitching. Stitch or hand hem. Use for faced collar, etc.  

Go to town and bring the romance into your surroundings with ruffles, gathers and/or shirring on your home sewing projects.   


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