Gathering perfect ruffles (tutorial)

Today, I’d like to share a little trick I use to gather the perfect ruffles. There are plenty of great tutorials online for gathering ruffles, but this one specifically helps you ensure that your ruffles are divided equally over the entire length of your skirt/dress/whathever you’re making.

First, put the stitch length of your machine on (almost) the maximum length. Next, stitch one line about 1/4 inch (0.7 cm) of the edge of the fabric you want to gather, without stitching forward/backward at the beginning and end of the stitch. Leave a long tail of thread.

Next, stitch a parallel line at ½ inch from the edge, also without stitching forward/backward at beginning and end, and also leaving a long tail of thread. These are temporary lines which will be removed later on.

Divide your fabric in 4, 8, or 16 parts (depending how long it is). Do this by folding it in half, putting the side seams together (if applicable), and pinning in the folds you create. Then, fold the ‘halfs’ in half, and next those halfs in half, until you get parts of somewhere between 8 and 15 centimeters (3 and 6 inches).

Now, take the piece of fabric onto which you will stitch the gathered part (the lining, in most cases). Divide this into the same amount of parts by using the same technique. Evidently, these parts will be smaller than those you made in step 2.

Next, gather the first piece of fabric by pulling both threads at the same time. Shift the fabric so that the gathers are more or less evenly spaced. At this point, it is better to gather too much rather than too little.

Now it is time to pin the gathered fabric on the other fabric. Use the pins you put in steps 2 and 3 to help you to space the ruffles perfectly. So pin 1 inthe gathered fabric will go together with pin 1 in the other fabric, pin 2 with pin 2, and so on.

Finally, change the stitch length on your machine to normal again, and prepare to stitch the fabrics together right between the two temporary lines you made in step 1.

Put you needle in the fabric at the beginning (pin 1), and lift up the presser foot. Take the fabric between thumb and index finger at the next pin (pin 2), and pull carefully until both pieces are equal in length. Next, divide the ruffles equally between pin 1 and pin 2 (I use a seam ripper to shift the fabric, but you can also do this with your fingers of course). Then stitch from pin 1 to pin 2. 

Repeat step 6 for al the next parts (between pin 2 and 3, then between pin 3 and 4, and so on).

Remove the temporary lines you stitched in step 1. Admire your perfectly gathered ruffles. Excitedly show them to your boyfriend/husband/next of kin, and wonder how they can remain so indifferent to your exceptional sewing talents. The end.


8 thoughts on “Gathering perfect ruffles (tutorial)

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I've been SO struggling with gathering. My mother does it with such ease.. gathers right on the first stitch with no gathering foot & no steps in-between (of course, she's been sewing for over 50 years!) Anyway, I hope I can now feel less like a failure.

  2. OMG! I just proved that Step 8 is a very, very important part of this tutorial. I laughed when I read it and then laughed some more when it happened to me… I did not have the patience to do the gathering perfect but it is still cute! Thank you so much!

  3. Love step 8!!! So many tutorials miss this vital step! lol. Great tutorial too… I recently sewed a dress with ruffles and was being lazy and only did one line to create my gathering and then when I sewed it together it was so uneven. I shall follow these steps in future and stop being such a slacker!!! haha!

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