How to Make Pleated & Gathered Ruffles

Ruffles can be made for skirts, dresses, blouses, children’s wear, and curtains. There are 2 different types of ruffles; pleated and gathered. Gathered ruffles are most popular and create a full look whereas pleated ruffles can look a little more elegant. Ruffles are a great accent whether large or small.




How to Make Pleated Ruffles

See How to Make a Tiered Ruffle Skirt for instructions on how to use ruffles to make a skirt.

For this example, I’m going to make medium sized pleated ruffles that will look great on a skirt.

You can change the sizes of your ruffles depending on how long or wide you want them. Most curtains have medium to large size ruffles that stand out, but things like children’s wear will have small ruffles because it’s in proportion to the size of the clothes.

For this demonstration, I’m cutting strips that are 5 inches wide and 36 inches long for an adult skirt. Take into consideration the seam allowance. For example, I want my ruffles to be 4 inches wide so I’m cutting it 5 inches wide to have an inch for gathering, pleating, and seam allowance.

To pleat the ruffles, take the end of the fabric, fold it inward 1 inch and pin. Fold the opposite side 1 inch in and pin. The 2 pleats should be slightly touching.

I’m doing 1 inch pleats but you can do 1/2 inch pleats if you want them to be thinner. Continue this until you’ve reached the end.

Stitch across with a 1 inch seam allowance. Using elastic thread in the bobbin will help the fabric stretch.

Backstitch at the beginning and the end and the pleated ruffle is now complete.

How to Make Gathered Ruffles

See How to Use Elastic Thread for more information.

For gathered ruffles, make sure the stitch length on your machine is set at 5mm or the longest length. The reason for this is that a longer stitch will help glide the fabric for gathering.

Without backstitching, stitch across leaving 4 to 5 inches of thread at the end.

Make sure the elastic thread is in the bobbin and threaded by hand. This thread will help the stitch stretch with the fabric.

Repeat this 2 more times with a 1/4 inch in between each stitch.

Gently pull the threads and gather the fabric to the fullness you like.

Change the length of the stitch to 3 millimeters for a tighter stitch.

Pin the fabric in place and stitch with a 1 inch seam allowance.

Backstitch at the beginning and the end.

The gathered ruffle is now complete.

Fullness of the ruffle will also depend on the weight of the fabric you choose. A heavyweight fabric with more stiffness will create a full look. A fabric like jersey knit will fall flat and create a loose looking ruffle.

For perfect ruffles, find elastic thread here.