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Read Again Sew a Swirl-of-Ruffles Hem Treatment!

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Read Again Sew a Swirl-of-Ruffles Hem Treatment!

Swirl-of-Ruffles Hem Treatment

Several years ago, designer and Sew Beautiful contributor Khristal Joett showed us a crumpled instruction sheet for a vintage pattern that she purchased at an estate sale. What interested Khristal the most about the garment was its unique swirl-of-ruffles hem treatment, which was ironically similar to the hem on an antique dress we had recently acquired to share on an episode of "Martha's Sewing Room." Using the vintage pattern, we created two different dresses for a feature in our March/April 2011 issue - one version was a fun, modern reproduction, while the other was more heirloom-inspired.

Today, we'd like to show you how to achieve the swirl-of-ruffles hem on any garment. As you plan your project, consider cutting bias strips for ruffles (so they don't fray) and allowing the raw edges to be exposed. Instead of using fabric, you could also create the swirls with decorative trims, fringes or ribbons. Spruce up your favorite skirt pattern or purchased skirt with ruffled swirls, or add a dressy finish to a special occasion dress in silk dupioni. Be creative with this vintage-inspired trim!

Making the ruffles:
NOTE: Before gathering, decide how to finish ruffles (bias raw edges, narrow hem, zigzag rolled edge, machine scallop stitch, decorative stitch, serger edge, etc.)

1. Cut several bias strips 2-1/4-inches wide (for a 1-inch finished ruffle) and one half to twice the length of swirl depending on how tight you want to gather your ruffles. Fold and press each side edge to wrong side of fabric 5/8 inches so that they overlap 1/4 inch down the center (fig. 1). 

Figure 1

2. With thread to match fabric, gather along center using a traditional straight stitch (L=4.0) for pulling, or with a ruffling foot attachment. Adjust gathers as pictured on swirl template.

3. Press corners under at one end and stitch to secure a pointed finish (fig. 2). You can also turn and hem edge straight across. Complete all ruffles and set aside for application.

Figure 2

Attaching the ruffles:
Side seams of skirt or dress must be sewn and finished before adding ruffles, as ruffles are sewn on top of seam on right side. This can be done after dress is fully constructed or before you add a skirt to a yoke or bodice.

1. Mark a 1-inch hem at skirt bottom. 

2. Divide front into four equal sections between side seams; draw three vertical lines from hem. Trace curves in each corner of marked lines and side seams, as pictured on swirl template. TIP: Get creative and add curls at each tip or make longer ruffles that serpentine to the top.

Swirl template

3. Do not stitch hem until after all ruffles are applied. Work from right to left so that each added ruffle covers raw end of previous one. Begin pinning or glue-basting ruffles so that gathering stitch is on curved line and 1/2 inch above hemline. Be sure the straight end overlaps the next swirl guide line just a little, so that it is caught in the stitching of the next ruffle. Straight stitch ruffles to skirt on top of gathering stitch line. 

4. Press hem up 1/2 inch then again 1/2 inch and hand blindstitch on inside of dress (stitching should be hidden by ruffle).

For more ruffled sewing inspiration, check out our new DVD, Marjorie's Ruffle Dress with Connie Palmer. You'll learn how to create an adorable little girl's dress and matching doll dress as Connie shares tips, tricks and magic methods for ruffles and piping!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

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