Ruffled Skirt Tutorial

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:

Sorry, my model lives miles away from me :)

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).

40" wide by 26" long (fabric is folded in half)

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.  

You are done.  Wasn’t that easy?

Ruffled by Pre-ruffled 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.

Cate's skirt - wide twill elastic on a single piece of rectangular fabric.

Mira's jumper/sleeveless dress. Learned that its tough to make anything other than a straight skirt.

My tank top. Edges are finished with black jersey.

Deb's tank top. This is tapered but the effect is lost with the ruffles.

Angela's skirt - slightly longer. Waistband of black wide elastic.

Megan's skirt. Yoke top made from black jersey and has 3/4" elastic at the waist (no zipper)

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.

For this skirt, I sewed the elastic and then pinned the ruffles in place before cutting.

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.

Fabric back - easy to hem by cutting away what you don't need. No other finishing is required.

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.

Center front ruffle was cut away. Oops, but a little patch fixed it.

I have more, but since the hosting site isn’t cooperating, I’ll have more tips in the next post.  Stay tuned!

Post-publication note:  Part 2 is here