Sewing ruching is simply a way of gathering, pleating, or the folding of extra fabric. It is a French word for ‘strip of cloth’ and is part of the French couture that can be added to make our garments fancier. It is a versatile sewing option to bring fullness and flounce to dressmaking. Ruching is especially popular on wedding gowns and gives the bride an opportunity to show off a bit of extra frill and fancy. Here are 4 different approaches on how to sew ruching.
There are a few ways you can apply ruching to a garment and if you are following a pattern there should be detailed instructions but if you decide you liked a picture you saw with ruching then you will need to choose your own variation.
How to Sew Ruching:
Method 1 | How to Sew Ruching with ELASTIC
You will often see this method of ruching used in gathering leotard necklines and stretch fabric but it works equally well for wovens.
The elastic is used to gather up the fabric at the point where you require some extra fullness for example in the bust or neckline. Or perhaps or you had too much fullness and want to make the garment more fitting. It can also be used for decorative purposes and is common in costumes.
Start by cutting the elastic to the length you want the finished ruching.
Pin either end of the elastic along the fabric to be ruched at its full length. Because the fabric is longer than the elastic, it will gather in between the endpoints. The ruching occurs when the elastic causes the material to scrunch up but is still loose enough to pull on.
Backstitch well at the beginning to secure elastic and then stitch while gently pulling the elastic to get the elastic to fit all the way to the end of the ruched area. You will generally need to pull the elastic both in front and behind the sewing machine foot.
You can straight stitch the elastic or zigzag over it. My preference is a small zig-zag but you can experiment to see which you like the look of best.
You will notice my stitches skipped in the middle of the elastic. This could have been prevented by using a stretch needle. Also be careful you don’t pull the elastic too hard as you sew over it or you will create uneven length stitches.
Turn the fabric to the right side and this is how it will look. Lovely gathered ruching!
Method 2 | Sewing Ruching with GATHERING
Sew a gathering stitch over the middle or top of the strip with the longest stitch on your machine.
Pull up the threads of cotton to gather the ruched strip and make sure the gathers are even and fit the area that you have decided to put a strip of ruching over.
Your ruched strip can then be used as a frill or a ruffle on any part of a garment you wish to decorate.
Further reading: How to gather
Method 3 | Sewing Ruching with CORD
You can also sew ruching by creating a casing through which to thread cord or a fabric pull tie.
This casing can be on the outside of the garment for a decorative effect and for a punch of contrast color, or on the inside for an invisible finish.
Cut a strip of fabric around 1 1/2 inches wide (4cm). The length will be that of the garment edge to be gathered and add 1/2 inch (12mm) for seam allowances on the top and bottom.
On the wrong side of the strip, press the raw edges over by 1/4 inch (6mm) all the way around.
Place the strip right side up on the main fabric. This may be on the outside or inside of the garment depending on the look you want.
Stitch around the outside of the strip leaving one end open. Stitch up the middle leaving a 3/4 inch (2cm) gap at the closed end.
Attach your cord to a safety pin and thread it up, turn at the top and go down the other side.
It does take a little maneuvering to navigate the turn at the top.
Pull the cord to your desired length and cut any excess cord. You can knot the ends to stop it pulling through or alternatively put a couple of stitches at the top.
Method 4: Sewing Ruching with Shirring
Shirring elastic (also called elastic thread) in the bobbin is another elasticated method of ruching. Basically, you will put the shirring elastic in the bobbin and normal thread in the top.
Further reading: how to sew shirring.
Method 5 | PLEATING
Instead of gathering, a ruched effect can be achieved by pleating the strip of fabric to fit into a bodice or on a sleeve or around any part of the garment you would like to add some detail. Pleated ruching gives a very dramatic effect on ball gowns and bridal gowns.
Thinner fabric works best so try out the fabric first with a strip to see if it is a suitable weight for the ruched effect.
Learning how to sew ruching is one of those clever little ways to add a bit of sparkle to your dressmaking. It will help you turn a ‘plain Jane’ item into a sassy little piece of ruched haute couture! Viva La France!
Read More about Gathering
- How to gather fabric – simple machine gathering techniques
- How to gather fabric with a gathering foot
- How to gather fabric with a ruffler
- How to gather fabric with cord and a zig-zag stitch
- How to gather tulle
- How to gather with clear elastic
- Sewing with elastic thread: How to sew shirring
- How to sew ruching