Learn how to sew a basic straight edge gathered ruffle using the following simple steps.
Step 1: Prepare the Ruffle Fabric Strip.
Step 2: Finish the Ruffle's Hem First
There are a few different ways you can clean finish a ruffle's edge but the most commonly used is a double folded machine stitched hem. The seam allowance of the ruffle's lengthwise edge is 1/2". This means you should turn the raw edge in (towards the wrong side of the fabric) once at half the seam allowance (1/4"), then turn the folded edge one more time at 1/4" to enclose the raw edge of the fabric. Iron as you fold and place a few horizontal pins to keep this fold in place.
Always finish the ruffle's hem first as this is very difficult to do once the ruffle is gathered.
Step 3: Machine Stitch to Finish Hem
Apply a straight stitch along the fold, using the fold line as a guide. Stitch as close as possible to the fold line.
Step 4: Apply the Gathering Stitches
Apply two basting stitches on your sewing machine. The first basting stitch should be right along the seam line at the edge's seam allowance (1/2" in this case) and the second, halfway along the seam allowance (1/4"). Make sure you leave longer loose threads at both ends so you can easily pull the gathering stitch.
Step 5: Pin the Ruffle to the Seam Before Gathering
Step 6: Pull Basting Stitch Threads to Gather
On the opposite end of the pinned ruffle, pull the two top basting threads carefully to create gathering. Pull gently all the way across to the pinned edge and slowly build up on the gathering. Even out the gathering stitches as you pull. Do this until the gathered edge is exactly the same length as the edge it is getting stitched to.
Step 7: Pin the Ruffle's Seam
Step 8: Machine Stitch the Ruffle Seam
Making sure your sewing machine is set at a regular stitch (not a basting stitch), apply a straight stitch right bellow the bottom gathering stitch as shown in the image. You should sew as close as possible to the gathering stitch while also making sure it is placed right bellow it consistently throughout.
Step 9: Clean Finish the Ruffle Seam's Raw Edge
The ruffle is clean finished with a serging stitch. If you don't own a serger, as many sewing beginners don't, you may use a zig zag stitch on a home sewing machine. Make sure the tension balance on your sewing machine is adjusted correctly and try to sew at a denser setting for a better quality finish.