Frills and ruffles are very popular embellishments in dressmaking. There are quite a few methods to gather fabric, but double basting method is the universal one. Its main advantage is that it can be used with any fabric, be it knitted or woven and it is essentially the same done by hand or sewing machine. The beauty of the double basting method is the neatness of the result, it produces even and tidy ruffles and works equally well on straight or circular pieces.
Depending on the design, fabric can be cut on straight, cross-grain or on bias. Bias method is favored when the ruffle will be finished with the lettuce edge, and requires a fair bit of stretching.
Machine gathering is much more common due to its speed, after all who has time to do meters of tiny even stitches, that will be pulled out after the ruffling is secured.
Set you sewing machine on the longest stitch and run two parallel lines 0.5-1cm apart. Using the bottom threads start to pull them out, gathering the fabric. Gradually move the ruffles further and further. When the ruffle is reduce to a desired length tie the ends of the threads and check the distribution of the folds. Spread the ruffling evenly all the way. After you are satisfied baste your ruffle in place and make final adjustments. When you are sewing a ruffle to the main piece make sure to stitch between the basting lines, apart from being a guide lines they are keeping the tiny folds in place, insuring good finish. All you need to do now is to overlock the edges and pull the basting out.
Pulling the thread can be a tricky, especially if the fabric is thick. To safeguard yourself from snapping a thread midway, take your time, and never rush this job. Another tip is to loosen slightly the top thread on your sewing machine 1 or 2 points should do the trick.
- Single-edge gathering
- Double-edge gathering
- Gathering in the middle
Cutting the fabric for the ruffle you must keep in mind the fullness you are after. For an average ruffle along the hem you can get away with the 1.75 ratio (the length of a ruffle is 1.75 times the length of a hem). Depending on the fullness of the gathering the ratio can vary from 1.5 to 3 or even bigger for a really abundant ruffles.