My dear friend mentioned that she's using french seams to put ruffles on the hem of her daughter's pants, and that got me to thinking-- I haven't shared a nifty little Hoot Baby trick with you yet. Our seaming methods are one of the things that sets Hoot Baby apart (that, and the unbearable cuteness factor :-) Whenever possible (which is most of the time) I design the clothing so that the seams are felled (lie flat on the garment) or frenched (encased so that no raw edges show.) Great tutorials for each kind of seam if you follow those links. I like to minimize the need for serging (cause it really isn't pretty), and these seams lend interest to the outside of the garment and a beautiful, timeless quality to the inside.
I developed a method for attaching a ruffle at the hemline that encases the raw edges of the ruffle within the hem. This is great for ruffle pants, like our Skinnies:
and skirts, like the Picnic Skirt:
Here's how to do this yourself.
Begin by making your ruffle. I like to use a ruffler foot-- it makes perfectly spaced ruffles, and you can do big, blousy ones, or tight little pleated ones, depending on how you set the foot. Mine was not terribly expensive, around $40 for my Brother machine. More expensive machines, sadly, require more expensive feet.
To cut your ruffle, you'll need to cut strips that are twice as wide plus 1/2"-- I wanted a 1 1/2" ruffle, so I cut strips that were 4" wide. To allow for the fabric that is gathered into the ruffle, I cut two 44" long, 4" wide strips which I sewed together. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press in the fold. Make sure you make get the edges nice and even.
Then run the fabric through your ruffler. I set mine on "6" for this ruffle-- meaning the foot draws up and gathers the fabric every 6 stitches. Make sure you read all the fine print that comes with the instructions-- the foot isn't hard to use, but it is also not hard to break.
Once you've ruffled your fabric, you're ready to attach your ruffle.
The rest of the instructions will work really well for skirts, aprons, and most pants. However, if you're making pants for children and the free arm on your machine is wide, you will need to make some modifications. I'll include those as separate instructions at the end of the post.
I'm making a skirt here-- begin by sewing both side seams of the skirt. Working from the RIGHT side of the fabric, fold the fabric up and press in a 1" fold.
Unfold this, and fold the lower edge up 1/2" to meet your crease line and press. You will then fold up your original crease to make a channel.
Now measure your ruffle on your skirt. It's very important to fit the ruffle EXACTLY to the hem of the skirt. To do this, pin the edge of the ruffle to the skirt, and very carefully measure the ruffle around the hem. Add 1" to the length and trim.
overcasting foot is AWESOME and as long as your machine has an overcasting stitch you should totally own one!
It finishes the seams just like a serger:
Now, working on your ironing board, begin to fit the ruffle into the channel you created before. It is really important that your stitched seam be facing up, towards you, while you work. This will ensure that it is on the inside of your finished garment. Working carefully, fit and press the ruffle and casing as you fit the entire ruffle into the casing. You can pin as you go if you like.
(Man, my ironing board cover is so ugly!)
Now, stitching carefully along the very edge of the casing, sew the ruffle into the casing. I go really slowly, and continually fit the ruffle in so that the raw edge of the ruffle is evenly in the casing with the edge of the ruffle touching the crease at the bottom/back of the casing. As you near the end of the seam, you'll need to gently hold the fabric out, without stretching it, as you feed it into the machine to ensure that everything is neat and tidy.
Now, flip the ruffle down and press the seam so that everything is nice and flat. Working from the right side of the fabric, very carefully line the fabric up with your stitching guides on the machine to make sure that your stitches will be on the loose edge of the hem you just encased. Alternately, you can work from the wrong side of the fabric and stitch at the very edge of the hem casing. If you work this way, you must be very careful to stitch evenly as these stitches will show on the right side of the fabric. Finally, working from the RIGHT side of the fabric, topstitch along the very edge of the casing, just above the ruffle. The finished seam will look like this:
And the finished product looks like this:
MODIFICATION FOR BABY PANTS:
If you find that the leg of your pants is too narrow to work comfortably on your free arm, you can sew just the OUTSIDE seam of each pant leg. DO NOT CLOSE THE INSEAM. Then, following all of the steps for creating a casing and inserting a ruffle, insert your ruffle into the hem. NOTE: You will NOT sew the ends of your ruffle together, but will work with both the pants and the ruffle flat-lying. You will then sew the inseam. I like to use a French seam for this, working from the bottom of the ruffle and sewing carefully in from the bulk created by the edge of the ruffle. It's a little tricky to make it look great, so if you're not as confident you might want to sew the inseam right sides together and finish the edges with zigzag, overcasting stitch or serger.
Have a lovely weekend!!!
The fine print: As always, I'm so happy to share with you-- sharing makes the world go round. Make as many ruffly things as you like--- ruffle your entire world! But please don't use my ideas on any items you make for sale--that makes me sad :(