How-To: Upcycle a Skirt with Ruffles

Craft & Design Yarncraft

How-To Tuesdays
I’ve become obsessed with ruffles. The theme this month on CRAFT is upcycling, and ruffles are a great way to re-vamp tired pieces in your wardrobe. This week I am sharing my method for adding a new flouncy trim to a simple old skirt. My ancient copy of Vogue Sewing has many ways to create ruffles, but generally instructs the seamstress to fold, iron, and pin them before sewing a single stitch. Ruffles can also be constructed by basting along a piece of trim, and then gathering the stitches by hand. But, seriously, that is way too much work for a crafter like me! I want instant gratification and I’ll do anything to get out of the tedious pinning process. By sewing a wide trim straight down the middle onto the edge of a skirt, I can make a double ruffle without a single pin. It’s a dramatic effect, and will instantly transform the hem of any boring skirt.

1 boring jersey skirt
2-3 yards of coordinating fabric
Measuring tape
Rotary cutter and mat, or scissors
Sewing machine

Step 1: Measure the total length of the hem of your skirt.
Step 2: Multiply the number of inches by 4. That number is the length of trim needed for the ruffle. Lay your coordinating fabric on the mat, and use your rotary cutter to cut strips that are 5″ wide and as long as you can get from your material.
Step 3: Thread the sewing machine and set it to a medium straight stitch. Lay the hem of the skirt out, right side up. Then lay the first length of trim on top. I placed my trim so that the center of the trim was about 1/4 inch above the hem of the skirt. Secure it with a couple stitches, so that it stays in place while you make your first fold.
Step 4: The ruffles are sewn right onto the skirt by feeding folds of the trim into the machine. Start by folding the fabric over onto itself, about one fold for each inch of trim. I like to fold the fabric 3 or 4 times, then stitch that “batch” down. When I get to the last fold, without lifting the needle or presser foot, I make a new batch and then send them right through. Seeing the folds laid out in advance helps me visually ensure that each fold is about as wide as the next. But with practice, the ruffles can be folded as you sew, one right after the other. When you reach the end of your trim, don’t lift the needle, just overlap the end of the next strip onto the last and keep stitching.
This is a very easy and organic method. The result will be flowing, so don’t fret over spacing irregularities. I noticed that sometimes the jersey trim I used puckered if I didn’t push it smoothly under the needle, but those puckers are almost impossible to notice when the ruffle is hanging at the hem of the skirt. This is because the trim folds in half when it hangs down, creating two ruffles along the edge from just one piece of trim.

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