How to Make Fabric Ruffles

Updated November 22, 2016

Fabric ruffles are easy to make, and useful for a wide variety of sewing and craft projects. By making your own ruffled fabric trim, you can make the ruffles just the colour and print you want, and make them match the rest of your sewing project. You can attach ruffles to the edges of pillows, curtains or clothing, or you can even use ruffled fabric to make doll clothing or fabric flowers. It’s easiest to make ruffles from lightweight fabrics, such as calicos and cottons. Read on to learn how to make fabric ruffles.

Cut a strip of fabric about twice as long as you want the ruffles, and about 1-inch taller.

Hem one long edge of the fabric strip by folding the edge over 1/4 inch toward the wrong side, then folding it over 1/4 inch again and stitching the fold in place.

Set the sewing machine to the longest stitch length. Long stitches are called basting.

Stitch along the long edge of the fabric, about 1/4 inch from the edge. Do not reverse stitch at the beginning or end of the stitching. Clip the ends of the threads, leaving tails about 2 to 3 inches long.

Sew a second row of basting stitches, about 1/4 inch further in than the first row. (On many sewing machines, you can line up the first row of basting with the edge of the presser foot to get this 1/4 inch spacing.) Clip the ends of the threads, leaving tails about 2 to 3 inches long.

Grasp both thread tails on the underside of one end of the fabric. Pull the threads gently. This causes the fabric to gather. Spread out the gathers with your fingers, and continue pulling the threads until this end of the fabric is as ruffled as you want it.

Repeat Step 6 for the other end of the fabric. This helps keep the gathers even.

Smooth out the ruffles and adjust the tightness of the gathers to make the fabric the length you want. When you have the ruffles the way you want them, set the sewing machine to a regular stitch length and stitch across the gathered edge to hold the ruffles in place.

Hem the short ends of the fabric, using the same technique as you used for the lower edge in Step 2.

Sew the gathered edge of the fabric to your sewing project using 1/2 inch seam allowance to hide the basting stitches, or cover the gathered area with double-fold bias tape. Stitch the bias tape to the ruffled fabric. You now have ruffled fabric trim you can use for any project you like.


You can use the same basting technique to gather fabric for a skirt or other project with ruffles of fabric.


Use caution when working with sewing machines and scissors.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Double-fold bias tape (optional)
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
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