In response to the posts on how to sew with pre-ruffled fabric, I’ve gotten questions about which pattern works for sewing a ruffled skirt. The good news is that you don’t need a pattern. This fits into the “it’s so easy that it’s hard” category.
Starting with the End in Mind:
1. With pre-ruffled knit fabric in hand, cut one piece.
Width – equal to the wearer’s hip size(remember this is really stretchy fabric so no ease is needed).
Length – slightly longer than desired (it’s easy to cut off an extra ruffle or two after the garment is finished).
2. Position the ruffles at the seamline. Pin in place.
3. Machine baste the seam. You can see the extra pieces of ruffle sticking out. They can be cut off however serging will also do it for you.
4. If the ruffles are all in place, you are ready to serge the seam.
5. Cut a piece of wide elastic plus 1″ for overlapping the seam. This should be the length of the wearer’s waist or slightly larger if it will be worn below the natural waist.
6. Sew elastic into a circle by overlapping 1/2″.
7. Mark the 4 quarters of the elastic and the corresponding quarters at the top edge of the skirt.
8. Pin the elastic to the skirt. Note: For a clean look, bottom of elastic should meet up with the top of a ruffle.
9. Machine baste the elastic while stretching to fit the skirt. Missing this important step isn’t worth it. It’s really tough to remove stitches as it destroys the fabric edges.
9. Zig-zag or coverstitch the elastic onto the skirt, stitching very close to the bottom edge of the elastic.
10. If desired, adjust the hem length by cutting off one or more ruffles.
In the two weeks since my last post, Kevin and I took a road trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota where we visited family and friends, and we saw Megan and Chris’s new home. All of those miles traveled and I didn’t visit a single fabric store. Well, just one. However Megan and I did purchase fabric for window valances at IKEA. Though the supply is limited, they have great fabric.
More tips for sewing with pre-ruffled fabric:
As I mentioned in the last post, sewing with pre-ruffled fabric was more challenging than I anticipated. I stopped with tip #7, “Plan for where the ruffles will land on the garment”. When cutting the black and white tank, I laid the pattern on the center front of the neck so that the entire ruffle would be visible. That was the correct way to cut, unlike Deb’s tank where I cut in the middle of the ruffle.
In the following, I didn’t plan well and cut through the ruffle. Fortunately I was able to recover by adding a piece of ruffle to the neckline before binding the edge.
8. Like with other stretchy garments, sew a small piece of stretch fabric or clear elastic into the shoulder seam. Because the fabric is so lightweight and to avoid bulk, I didn’t extend the stabilizing fabric to the edges. My choice was a small strip of cotton jersey.
9. To bind the edges, use a very light weight fabric. Again, I used cotton jersey with 4-way stretch. BTW, white looked awful on the black and white fabric.
When the garments we sew are worn, we always learn more about our creations. And thus a few more tips:
10. When planning for an adult skirt, cut the fabric width approximately the same size as the wearer’s hip measurement. Children don’t mind having a little extra bulk on their hips but it’s not as flattering for adults. (I am now making this adjustment to Angela’s and Megan’s skirts).
11. Last of all, I learned that some of these fabrics may not work for children’s clothes. At age 5, Catie proudly wore her new skirt to the playground. After she went down the slide a few times the edge of the ruffles started to ravel (or unravel if you chose). I don’t know if this would occur with the more commonly available poly or poly/nylon pre-ruffled fabric (i.e. black and white tank). The grey ruffles feel like they are made from rayon, are softer and less stable. It’s hard to be sad about the skirt as it was fun to sew it. I’ll make her a new one from the yet unused black fabric.
Did I mention that I paid $8.00 for all of the fabric for these garments. It was great fun to find such cute fabric for such a bargain and to plan for the garments; but it was frustrating at times until I learned the nuances of working with pre-ruffled fabric.
What are your experiences in working with this fabric?
For some months I have been enamored by the pre-ruffled fabric which is common in ready-to-wear garments and which is sometimes but not often seen in the sewing circles. Surely it’s not a product I’ve been able to find at the name-brand sewing and craft stores. So when I found four pieces of pre-ruffled fabric in a bin at Jomar’s recent half-price sale, I was thrilled. That is until I began to make garments from it.
Since I struggled to learn how to work with this unusual fabric, it’s only fair to share some tips with you. With about four yards of fabric in hand and because several pieces were 72″ wide, I was able to make one garment for each of the girls in our family – six in all. So now we’re all dressed in grey and black.
10 Tips for Sewing with Pre-ruffled Fabric:
1. Use simple designs, preferable with straight lines. The easiest and best look is to cut a rectangle of fabric and add a waistband to the fabric. Absolutely avoid darts or multiple seams. Even a tapered tank was more design than this fabric could handle.
2. Pin the ruffles in place prior to cutting as it’s really easy to remove a part of a ruffle that you’ll want later.
3. Because the backing fabric is made from nylon knit (think nylon stockings), it runs. Avoid pulling the fabric. Even removing stitches created runs in the fabric.
4. Machine baste all seams before placing the final seam (yes, that means all). I made the mistake of trying to sew the edging without basting first. When I removed the stitching it was a real mess.
5. Plan for the garment to be longer than you desire. Shortening is easy – just cut the nylon backing between the ruffles. Couldn’t be easier.
6. When cutting, match the stripes perfectly.
7. Plan for where the ruffles will land on the garment. Here’s an example of a time when I cut away part of the ruffle.
I have more, but since the hosting site isn’t cooperating, I’ll have more tips in the next post. Stay tuned!