Sunday 29 April 2018

Techniques: Easy Gathered Neckline Ruffle

A couple weeks ago I made a maxi dress with a simple gathered ruffle detail along the neckline for our Bangkok trip, and got really into it. A few people messaged me asking how I made it - here are the steps. Super easy! The dress itself is a variation of this skirt - I just added a top with tied up shoulder straps.

Start by making a wide strap out of your fabric, as if you were making shoulder straps. Here's a video that shows the steps for basic strap making (first 1.20 min).  Make the strap so both ends are finished - leave the gap to push it right side out on the side instead of the end (this way you'll have both ends as nice squares, and can just sew the gap on the side closed by hand).

Tutorials take a lot of time & effort to create, and I choose to make mine available for free. If you enjoy this guide, you can support me with a donation that feels right for you, here.

The width will depend on how big you want your ruffle detail to be - in this example I made my strap about 3.5 cm wide (so the piece I cut was double that + seam allowances; 8 cm).

The length depends on how ruffly/full you want it. First measure the length of the area the ruffle needs to cover.
  • For the amount of gather you see in this project, multiply that number by 1.5. 
  • For a very subtle ruffle, multiply by 1.3.
  • For a very full ruffle, multiply by 2.
I. When you have your strap ready and pressed, sew a basting stitch (the longest stitch on your machine) right along the center of the strap:

II. Then start pulling the bobbin thread to gently gather the strap. 
  • PRO TIP I: Pressing the strap with lots of steam every now and then makes it an incredible amount easier to do the gathering. Try it and you'll see!
  • PRO TIP II: If you get too excited and pull so hard that the thread breaks, no worries. Just sew a new basting stitch to cover the area where it came off. It can actually be easier to gather in smaller bits than the whole way with one thread.
  • PRO TIP III: If your fabric is super grainy (not sure how else to describe the situation.. essentially if your fabric is very very hard to slide along the thread to gather it) you can try this hack: Take your bobbin thread and 'saw' into a candle with it. Basically you want to just gently pre-treat your bobbin thread with candle wax and then put it back on the bobbin. This will make it more easy to glide the fabric along. (I came up with this method maybe a year ago when working with a fabric straight from hell, but it was too late to go back on the ruffle plan).

Gather until the length of the strap matches the area you need it to cover. Press one more time once done, and tie the threads together at the ends to avoid the gather loosening itself.
III. That's really all there is to it. Just pin the ruffle wherever it's going on your project, and sew it in place over the first stitch (this time with a regular stitch length). If you are patient & detail-oriented, you could do the basting stitch with a contrasting thread, so you can pick it out after the proper stitch has attached the ruffle to the garment. 




  1. What kind of fabric is this? It drapes so beautifully

    1. eeh! can't believe I missed your question! This is crepe:)

  2. Do you have a tutorial for making the top? :)

  3. This is soooo gorgeous and I would also love a tutorial for making those side/darts/ straight neckline/ best way to add those straps in


I would love to hear what you think and learn about your DIY adventures! If you use one of my tutorials, tag me on social @contour_affair, I'd love to see!


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