Thursday, March 25, 2010


In my last post I showed you how to make a ruffle using a straight strip of fabric. Today I will show you how to make the circular ruffle.

Start off with a half a yard of fabric, (unfolded, so you are only cutting and drawing on one layer). In the middle of the fabric, pin your tape measure at the 0 mark through the fabric and into the surface underneath. I like to work on carpet or a a cardboard cutting mat so that the pin will stand up on its own. If you dont have a soft surface like that, you may have to hold the pin in place with your non-writing hand.

Next, we draw the inner circle. I am marking at 1 1/4". The smaller you make this circle, the tighter/more compact your ruffle will be. Walk the tape measure around full circle marking about an inch apart.

Next we determine the width of the ruffle. I am making my ruffle 4 3/4". Remember, when marking the outer circle/width of ruffle, you measure the width from the inner circle, not from the 0 mark on the tape measurer. (So I am measuring 4 3/4" from the 1 1/4" mark, making the distance from the 0 on the tape measure to the outside circle 5"). Again, walk the tape measure full circle, marking an inch or so apart. Connect the dots so that you have two clear circles.

Next, cut out the outer circle. Cut a straight line into the inner circle and cut out inner circle.

Straighten out the circle ( i just pinned it to the carpet so you can get the idea). The circle becomes a ruffle. Now you can sew this ruffle onto whatever you are making! Keep in mind though that you want to keep the inner edge straight in order to get the full ruffle effect.

A couple of tips:

1)The size of the inner circle makes a big difference. the smaller you make it the more dense the ruffle. A big inner circle will give you more of a wave effect than a ruffle.

2)Finishing off edges on a circular ruffle can be a little tricky. Because of the strong curve at the edge, rolling the hem on the sewing machine can be difficult and give you a ugly edge. If you have a serger, the rolled hem function is often the best option. Or if you want a more couture look, you can roll the edge by hand and pin.... and then sew by hand (this will take a lot of time). The other option would be to line the ruffles in order to hide the edge.

3)Circular ruffles eat up a lot of fabric, much more than straight ruffles.

4. If you are planning on cutting out a lot of ruffles, i would suggest making a pattern. All you have to do is complete the above procedure on a peice of butcher paper, and pin to fabric.

5.)I used pen in this demonstration. If you are going to mark on the fabric, use tailor's chalk instead.

6)The smaller you make the inner fabric, the shorter the length of your ruffle. If you want a longer ruffle, you can cut out multiple circles, and sew the short straight edges together.

Different fabrics will give you different effects. In this practice dress, I am using a silk organza for my circular ruffles. The silk organza gives a very airy and bouncy feel to the ruffles. The serged rolled hem is a perfect way to finish off silk organza and will give the edges a lettuced effect. I also used a contrasting thread color in order to make the edges pop.

Another dress where I used circular ruffles, in the collar piece and the hemline.

Again, another piece using circular ruffles. This is a heaver weight fabric, almost like a duck cloth. The fabric helps create a more structured/sculptural ruffle.

Circular ruffles were very popular in 1930's... The patterns below show different ways in which they were used. In both of these patterns the dresses use circular ruffles that have a larger inner circle .... note how the ruffles seem to be more like waves.

This is a 1930's inspired wedding dress that I did. I used circular ruffles with smaller inner circles, giving more compact ruffles. Again this type of ruffle eats up a lot of fabric...including the lining, I probably used 25 yards of fabric to create this! Because both sides of these ruffles are visible, they are all lined so that the underside is as pretty as the outer side.

If you dont cut out the inner circle, you can bunch the circles together to create organic looking ruffly shapes...

This method is used in the Marchesa dress below:

Circular ruffles with a larger inner circle were used on this wedding dress to create waved ruffles...

Same concept here...

Circular ruffles are used quite a bit in flamenco dresses and apparel....

These pieces make me wish I were a flamenco dancer:

These pictures show how circular ruffles can be quite fluid... They dance and bounce, float and flutter. Straight ruffles are much more rigid....



  1. These posts are fantastic - please, please, please keep them coming!

    It is so difficult to find any fashion-forward sites with detailed sewing techniques. I will definitely keep reading!

    One tip: you may want to shorten your blog name to something catchier so that it's easier to remember. You should also start a Facebook Fan page.

    Thank you, thank you!

  2. Hi, can you help. I am making Scarlett's BBQ Dress & i'm having difficulty with the unusual neckline ruffles. The lady on say's she used 22 Serpentine circles, what ever these are or look like I have no idea. I can't find anything on the internet to help. She won't tell me how to do it becuase she sells the dress's as a buisiness. She has many photos & there are lots of images of Vivien leigh in the dress on the internet, but just can't see whta is going on underneath. We have tried cutting circles in the shape of a plate but they all look seperate & not like one coniuous ruffle.

    If you or anyone can help, please e-mail me at the following:-

    I would be so greatful as i'm tearing my hair out now.

    Thanks from


    1. Tracy, I am so sorry i did not see you comment. I would have tried to help you if I had! I hope you got it figured out!

  3. What a great explanation and lots of good examples! I'm about to re-work the ruffle on the hem of a front slit formal gown that I made a few years ago. I had no idea about circular ruffles back then and I always wished it had turned out different. Now I can make the dress match my vision and wear it to an upcoming event!

  4. Thank you very much for the tutorial. I tried to make the neckline flounce into a ruffle by joining two circles, but it still wasn't ruffle-y enough. My problem came (almost made me cry) was in finishing the hem on the sheer chiffon circular ruffle-y flounce. Can you share some tips on how to finish the edges without serging or lining? I did the rolled hem which was a real pain because of the excess fabric on the outer edges.

    1. Hi Laura, I am just revisiting my blog now and saw your comment. Do you still need any help with this?

    2. Yes please. If you can give me any tips or post some tutorials on hemming extremely circular edges instead of serging, I would be most grateful. Thanks.

    3. I will see what I can do Laura! Might be at the beginning of the year though!

    4. I really look forward to the tutorial on hemming those extremely circular edges without serging. Thank you.

  5. My daughters wedding dress has the organza flower shaped ruffles at the bottom half of the dress. We took it to be hemmed ant the seamstress tacked it up in the front in two places. It looked awful. We are taking it back to be done correctly but I want to know the right way it should be hemmed. What is the correct way to hem it? Thanks.

    1. Hi Liz,
      I am sorry I did not respond. I am just revisiting this blog after being away for quite some time. Please let me know if you still have questions!!

  6. Hi my cousin has gotten me into sewing her wedding dress and I have most of the dress figured out except the bottom portion. Your post on ruffles has helped tremendously but I wanted your input on how I should tackle the ruffles that are on this dress:
    Thank you!

  7. I am making my grand daughters prom dress and the ruffles are sewn on vertically . Not sure if I am sewing them on correctly. Help!

  8. OMG!
    tHANK you for sharing this with us commoners> You are simply Brilliant. You took precious time to give so many beautiful examples of stunning work.

  9. Beautiful work! And thanks for including one of my flamenco skirts! You are right - ruffles are a standard feature of most flamenco costumes

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Love your post... You share great info. I was wondering if you can explain how you determine the amount of fabric to be used?

  12. Love your post... You share great info. I was wondering if you can explain how you determine the amount of fabric to be used?

  13. Very good post, thank you. More ruffle chiffon dress could be found out at this store.

  14. I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here. wedding dress patterns

  15. I am glad that I saw this post. It is informative blog for us and we need this type of blog thanks for share this blog, Keep posting such instructional blogs and I am looking forward for your future posts.