Because of my ruffled pillows, I had a request for a ruffle tutorial. I’ll try to explain it as best I can with the terrible photos I got.
Basically, a ruffle is created by gathering up a longer piece of fabric to fit onto a shorter piece.
First, sew a line of basting on the long edge of the longer piece of fabric. Use the longest stitch length on your sewing machine. The smaller the number, the smaller/shorter the length of the stitch.
In general, when following a pattern, the seam allowance (the distance from the row of stitching to the edge of the fabric) is 5/8”. Your machine will most likely have a 5/8” guideline.(The fabric is lifted to show the guideline.)
(In most cases, you would use thread that coordinates with your fabric. In this case for better visibility, I used a spool of red thread, which will be on the top as I sew, and black for the bobbin, which will be underneath.)
Align the edge of the fabric with the guideline, lower the presser foot, and stitch from one end to the other. When you are making a permanent seam, you backstitch a little bit at the beginning and end to keep it from coming unstitched. Basting is not permanent, and especially when you are going to be gathering, do not backstitch. Leave a tail of thread of several inches at each end.
Now you are going to sew a second line of stitching about 1/4” to the right of the first line. If you position the presser foot so the left prong-thingy is centered on top of the first line, that will give you about 1/4”. Sew a second line in the same manner as the first.
With right sides of the fabric together, line up the edges of the two pieces of fabric, and pin at the ends. Then, at even intervals, pin in several more places. Pins should be perpendicular to the line of stitching.
Next, just pull on the bobbin threads and slide the fabric to gather it up. Think of it like putting a curtain on a rod. The curtain is longer than the rod and bunches up to create gathers/ruffles when you push it all onto the rod.
I do it a section at a time and wrap the long end of the thread around a pin in a figure 8 to anchor it.
Slide the gathered fabric along the threads until the ruffles are about evenly spaced (again, think about a curtain on a rod). Now, sew the two pieces together on the 5/8” line. If the pins are perpendicular, you can leave them in and sew right over them. (Do watch and make sure the needle does not hit a pin; it’s extremely rare, but theoretically possible.) When you are doing the permanent seam, shorten your stitch length a little (I use about 3.5 on my dial) and backstitch a little at the beginning and end.
The shorter piece of fabric will be basically smooth, and the piece that was originally longer will be ruffled. If you were making a skirt or an apron, the smooth piece would be the waistband, something like this:
Okay, now that is a basic ruffle. My pillows were a slightly different sewing technique, but the gathering technique was the same. I just ran my basting stitches down the middle of the piece I wanted gathered, with about 3/4” between the two lines instead of 1/4”. When I sewed it on, I put the wrong side of the ruffle to the right side of the front of the pillow and stitched right along the basting stitches.
I hope this was helpful. It really is easier than it sounds, it’s just hard to make it sound easy! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if something isn’t clear.