How to Make Ruching on Dresses

Written by leah perry
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How to Make Ruching on Dresses
Ruching can be used on many different types of garments once mastered. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Ruching is a sewing term, derived from the French word for petals or gathers, and it can be used in a garment in one of two ways. The first form of ruching is where separate pieces of fabric are gathered up into ruffles or flower shapes and are then attached to another piece of fabric. Another ruching possibility is where the fabric of a garment itself is gathered up using elastic. You can easily make ruching on a dress using either of these methods by following some simple steps.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Fabric
  • Strip ruching guide
  • Marking pencil
  • Sewing machine
  • 1/4 inch wide elastic
  • Pins

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    Fabric Ruching

  1. 1

    Lay the fabric face down in front of you and fold the upper and lower horizontal edges so they meet in the middle. Iron the folds smooth so the fabric stays cleanly folded on its own.

  2. 2

    Turn the fabric over so the folded raw edges are facing down and lay the zigzags of the strip ruching guide on top. If your guide has more than one jagged edge, pick the size suitable for your project. The wider apart the points of the zigzags, the larger your rushing petals will be.

  3. 3

    Trace the zigzags of the ruching onto the fabric using a marking pencil. Keep moving the guide along the fabric and tracing the edge until the entire length of fabric is marked. When you finish, the fabric should have a row of small triangles running along its length.

  4. 4

    Adjust your sewing machine to wide and long straight stitch to make a running stitch. Sew the fabric along the zigzag lines using the running stitch until you reach the end. Leave the threads long when you reach the end so you can gather the fabric.

  5. 5

    Grip one of the threads at the end of the fabric and gently pull it to gather the fabric into petals. Keep pulling until the fabric is ruched to the opposite end.

  6. 6

    Apply the ruched fabric to your dress in a straight line, around a hem or in a spiral to create a flower. Sew the fabric to the dress using a regular straight stitch to secure the ruching in place. Trim the thread you pulled to create the gathering.

    Elastic Ruching

  1. 1

    Cut a piece of elastic to the length you want to make the ruching. Keep the elastic loose and don't stretch it when you cut it so you get an accurate length.

  2. 2

    Pin one end of the elastic at the top of the dress where you want to create ruching. Only pin the very top of the elastic and leave the remainder loose.

  3. 3

    Adjust your sewing machine to a short, narrow zigzag stitch. Sew the pinned part of the elastic with two or three zigzag stitches then reverse the machine and sew over the previous stitches. Remove the pin from the elastic because it is now held in place.

  4. 4

    Lower the needle so it is firmly down in the elastic and fabric then apply light pressure to the loose end of the elastic. Pull the elastic so the loose end is stretched out to the part of the fabric where you want to ruching to end. You will need to hold the elastic stretched at this length until you are finished sewing.

  5. 5

    Sew the stretched elastic onto the fabric using the zigzag stitch. Keep sewing the elastic down until you reach end of the ruching area. Backstitch the elastic by a few stitches to secure the elastic then remove the fabric from the sewing machine. When you release the elastic is will snap back into its unstretched length and ruch the fabric.

Tips and warnings

  • Think about the finished look of the garment before placing ruching; ruching at the waist, hips or on the bust can create unwanted bulk and make the garment unflattering.
  • Do not pull the elastic too hard or it could damage your machine. If the needle is pulled when you hold the elastic, then you are pulling too hard.

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