Sewing Tip: How to Sew Ruffles the Easy Way

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How to sew ruffles the easy way . . . save time and frustration by using this easy method for sewing ruffles. I wish I’d learned this sewing trick years ago!

I am in the process of sewing a couple of cute skirts for Rachel. And when you’re sewing things for little girls, you need a lot of ruffles! Recently my cousin shared a tip with me for sewing ruffles. Now that I know how to sew ruffles the easy way, I see a lot more handmade skirts in Rachel’s future. 🙂
How to Sew Ruffles

How to Sew Ruffles the Easy Way

To make ruffles, you have to gather the edge of your fabric. In the past, I’ve just sewed a basting stitch down the edge and then pulled the thread. The frustrating thing with that method is that sometimes the thread breaks and I have to start all over again. This new way is much faster and easier!

Here’s how you do it!

1-Cut a piece of string several inches longer than the edge of your fabric.

2-Place your fabric on your sewing machine and set your stitch to a long, wide zig-zag stitch.

3-Place the string near the edge of your fabric, making sure you leave a tail of string at the end so you can grab it later. Now just stitch over the string.Sewing tip for sewing ruffles with sewing machineWhen you get to the end, you should have a tail of thread on that edge as well. Now all you have to do to gather your fabric is pull on the string. Easy peasy! And you can pull the thread from both ends, so it is much easier to make ruffles in your fabric!how-to-sew-ruffles

Doesn’t that just make you want to go out and make something cute with ruffles? Here are a few projects with those fun ruffles:

DIY Shabby Chic Ruffle Table Runner
Tiny Ruffle Girl’s Skirt
Easy Ruffled Tree Skirt



  1. frances martire says

    What do you do if you have like 3 yards of rock hole that you have to make can you just add on Raul after Raul or do you have to do it in continuous raffle. At the end of the ruffle how do I attach it

  2. Brilliant! I always feel incompetent when sewing ruffles because my string always tends to snap. Can’t wait to try this! Thank you!!

  3. Oh. My. Goodness. I always used two stitches and pulled to get my ruffles. It took a LONG time to make ruffled blankets. I’m going to have to try this out and see how much time it saves.

  4. Kara, I love this idea! I have spend so much lost time trying to make a ruffle for my dolls that I make.
    Makes me want to go make a doll dress right now!
    Thank you so much!

  5. Cheryl McConnal says

    I use fine fishing line less like to break when pulling to get the proper amount of ruffle, keep pins in to secure ruffles, then your able to remove fishing line or leave for stability now sew your ruffles you’ll have even beautiful ruffles.
    Happy sewing

  6. This is only method I have ever used. However if you are making a long ruffle you can still break the string. I saw another pin awhile back to use dental floss as the guide thread as it is really strong. I now keep a spool of floss in my sewing station just for this purpose. I hope this will help those you embark upon ruffle making. One other note gently pull the floss as you go and when you get to the end you are through.

  7. thanx for such a great tip on sewing ruffles. I never would have thought of this.

  8. I do a version of this but I use the thread from the sewing machine;- sew back and forward a couple of times–lift the foot–pull thru as much thread as you need –this will be double and the ‘folded end’ furthest away from the machine–put the foot back down and change to zig zag stitch and stitch over your double thread. You can pull up the gather while you are zig zagging or you can leave it all to gather up when you get the end of your fabric. I showed my daughter in law how to do this the other day—she almost died with amazement!!!

  9. Omg thanks I’m making a prom dress with lots of ruffles

  10. Wouldnt the string just pull out since the zigzag stitches are loose?

    • If you want to, you can backstitch over the end of the string to hold it in place on one end. But I like to leave it loose so I can gather from both sides. After you sew the ruffle to the skirt (or whatever), it doesn’t matter if the string pulls out, because the ruffle is attached and won’t go anywhere. Does that make sense?

  11. Rebecca London says

    Just saw a version of this using dental floss in place of the string 🙂

  12. Want to make this even easier? Do it with your sewing machine! Turn the tension to zero and use your longest stitch length ( the one you would use for basting). Perfect even ruffles every time and you can even move them if needed. 🙂

    • Ellie, that’s the method I’ve been using for years. I thought it was easy until I tried this method. I couldn’t believe how much faster it was to pull the string to gather the fabric. You should give it a try!

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