Ruffles have been decorating garments since the Renaissance and are therefore one of the oldest design elements in fashion. Ruffles are also an indispensable part of today’s fashion, because they give clothes additional extravagance and a touch of romance. Whether on the collar, sleeve or skirt hem, ruffles are a simple means of spicing up clothes and making them an eye-catcher. Often frills are equated with flounces. However, the two design elements are different decorative elements. There is one important difference: a ruffle is a straight strip that is gathered, while a flounce is cut in a circular shape. The construction is therefore proceeded differently and the result is also slightly different in appearance. 

A ruffle is basically a pattern piece that is spread at the top and bottom. This creates fullness on both the top and the bottom. For the sake of simplicity, straight strips of fabric are cut for ruffles instead of spreading pattern pieces. The fullness or gathering width must be gathered before sewing onto the garment. This creates an irregularity and small wrinkles at the seam where they are attached.  


The flounce, on the other hand, is only stretched at the hem. This creates a circular pattern that can be sewn smoothly to an item of clothing and is therefore a little less voluminous than a frill. With flounces, the attachment seam is flat and the fullness is only included on the hem. The excess fabric tends to lie in slight folds. The disadvantage of flounces is that they need a lot of fabric due to their circular shape. 


Depending on how strong you want your gathering to be, take 1.25 to 2x the length of the attachment seam. Here you can see how ruffles look with 25% (x 1.25), 50% (x 1.5), 75% (x 1.75) and 100% (x 2) fullness in order to decide which variant is the right one for your version.  

The best way to sew the gathering is as follows:  

  1. Before you gather the ruffle, you should sew the hem. You can sew the hem with a rolled hem, overcast it and fold it in, or fold it in without overcasting. 
  2. Then you sew the two gathering seams with the longest stitch length along the attachment seam. You place the first holding seam on the seam line and the second holding seam about an foot’s width above it. At the beginning you sew the hold-in seam and at the end you let the long threads hang loose. 
  3. On the unsecured side, pull the two threads at the top and make the fabric pucker up. In principle, it doesn’t matter whether you pull the upper or lower threads. It is just important that you don’t switch between the top and bottom threads, because then the shirring will no longer work.  
  4. When the gathering has reached the length of the starting seam, knot the threads on the unsecured side. To do this, pull the thread gently so that the lower thread is drawn to the same side. Then you knot the upper and lower thread together about 5 times and cut off the excess thread. Then distribute the crimp as evenly as possible.  
  5. Now the ruffle is sewn along the seam line onto the attachment seam and the lower retaining seam is removed if it is visible. Your frill is ready!