Add Dimension with Netting Ruffles


On the christening gown above, the netting ruffles are applied to the fabric below and/or above the embroidery on the yoke and sleeves, as well as following the inner lace header edges on the skirt. On the dress, the netting ruffles are stitched to both sides of an organdy strip on the collar and on the scalloped edges of the hem, and then topped with spaghetti bias.

Traditional heirloom cotton netting is timeless and classic. It is just as beautiful on today’s creations as it was on the antique clothing of yesteryear, and this unique netting ruffles embellishment technique from Connie Palmer is perfect for a wide range of projects. Originally featured in our March/April 2013 edition of Sew Beautiful, the trim is easy to recreate and works on anything from formal designs to casual wear. In fact, in that issue Connie shared samples of the technique on both an exquisite christening gown and her Michelle’s Madeira dress pattern. Add netting ruffles to any dress, top, skirt, shorts or pants pattern you wish with this tutorial – you may even want to add netting strips to purchased clothing that just needs a little refreshing.

What you’ll need:

  • Cotton netting fabric
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Clear quilting ruler
  • Machine gathering foot
  • Sewline glue pen
  • 60wt thread for lace and construction
  • Size 70 or 80 machine needle
  • Wooden skewer (optional)

Left, netting ruffles shown on the christening gown bodice, and right, on the dress scalloped hem.


  1. Wash and press netting, but do not starch.
  1. To easily cut it, roll netting up like a jellyroll or fold it on itself until you have folded it into a narrow, layered stack (around 6 inches wide or so).
  1. Place roll or stack on a cutting mat. Place clear quilting ruler on top of netting and slice off end of stack to even it up with a clean cut. Discard end.

Figure 1

  1. Mark and cut strips from roll (Connie used 23 strips, 3/4 inches wide and 10 strips, 1/2 inch wide for the sample christening gown; adjust measurements to fit your project). Make sure that you do not cut them at an angle, or you will have oddly shaped strips. Keep edge of ruler even with fold edge of roll. Each cut unrolls to reveal a perfect netting strip (fig. 1).

Gather and apply:

  1. Set up machine with gathering foot and 60wt thread; select a straight stitch (L=2.5). NOTE:This stitch length will gather a 2-to-1 ratio. 
  1. Center strips under foot and gather each one; there is no need to connect strips. When sewing onto skirt, just overlap ends a bit. After gathering, just leave them in a pile. They are easily untangled as you go because your strips are very small.
  1. Use basting glue to temporarily “pin” ruffle in place on garment (use glue sparingly). Stitch along center over gathering stitch. Use a wooden skewer to help you direct and guide ruffles under foot as you sew.

Want to try this technique? Purchase English cotton netting in our online store. And be sure to check out Connie Palmer’s patterns, DVDs and embroidery CDs to discover more great sewing ideas!

Happy Sewing,