How to Make Shirred Ruffles

shirred ruffles

Trisha Smith’s shirred ruffles create an adorable trim!

Ah, ruffles! Don’t you just love them? They add such sweet detail anywhere they are stitched. This adorable shirred ruffles technique from Trisha Smith was featured in our August/September 2013 issue of Sew Beautiful. Shown here on a pattern from Trisha’s Treasures, you can use this easy technique so many ways. Just gather and place ruffles on top of a tube band to create shoulder straps, embellish the edge of pants or add them to the back of a baby’s bubble or diaper cover. It would also be great on bags, home decor – you name it! Follow Trisha’s instructions to master a fast and simple way to get the desired results without a lot of fuss.

Cut ruffle strips longer than needed so you have a little extra to work with at the beginning and end.

To prevent fabric edges from fraying, cut strips on the bias instead of on the straight of grain. This is the fastest method when making a very casual garment.

How to master shirred ruffles:
1. Cut bias strips of fabric the desired finished ruffle width.

2. Measure length where ruffle will be placed and double this number for two times the fullness.

shirred ruffles

3. Press fabric strips and mark right side of each strip. For a double ruffle, center smaller strip on top of wider strip with right sides facing up. Mark center of strip or strips, which will divide length in half (fig. 1).

4. Set sewing machine stitch length to longest stitch; the longer the stitch, the more gathers you will achieve. If fewer gathers are desired, use a shorter stitch length. NOTE: If you set the stitch length too short, less than 4, it will make it hard to adjust the gathers later if needed.

5. Increase upper tension on machine to highest number. The fabric will gather more with a higher tension. Decrease tension for fewer gathers.

6. Select a sewing machine foot with a tunnel, such as the decorative stitch foot. This will cause fabric to pucker more. (Suggestions: Bernina – Foot # 12; Pfaff – Knit Edge Foot; Baby Lock or Brother – Pearls or Sequin Foot.) The larger the tunnel, the more the fabric will gather.

7. Pull on needle and bobbin threads to create long tails.

8. Center fabric under presser foot and lower foot, making sure fabric strip is positioned so that first stitch will be on fabric. NOTE: Make sure not to stitch off the fabric, in the air; it will lock stitch and prevent the gathers from being adjustable.

shirred ruffles

9. Stitch down center of fabric strip, gently pulling on front of strip or strips as they travel under the foot (fig. 2). NOTE: Bias will stretch with a slight grasp. Place one finger behind foot, which will cause fabric to bunch up as you stitch. Every few inches, allow bunched up fabric to release and then place your finger behind foot again; continue to stitch.

10. Position shirred ruffle onto fabric or garment. Matching center of shirred ruffle to center of garment, pin together.

11. Adjust shirred ruffle strip to fit garment as needed. NOTE: Pull on needle thread, not bobbin thread. The bobbin thread will lock the stitches. This is opposite of regular gathering as the upper tension is tightened.

12. Stitch ruffle in place, sewing directly on top of previous stitching using a 2.0 or 2.5 stitch length and regular all-purpose foot.

13. Center a piece of spaghetti bias or trim on top of gathered ruffle and stitch down center to hold it in place.

shirred ruffles

Finished shirred ruffles

Have fun adding shirred ruffles on your upcoming projects! Find the August/September 2013 issue — and many more Sew Beautiful back issues and collections — in the Martha Pullen Online Shop.

Happy Sewing,

2 thoughts on “How to Make Shirred Ruffles

  1. Angela

    What is the name of the pattern used from Trisha’s Treasures and where can it be purchased? Thanks.


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