Pleated Ruffles

The other day I was listening to a podcast from an amazing maker with a studio in my building, LiveFreeCreativeCo, and Miranda mentioned a theme that resonated with me, growth often means being uncomfortable.

I have been wanting to try pleated ruffles on an Alabama Chanin inspired garment for a while now but was daunted by the process which I had never done before. I had ordered a 3/4″ pleating board from Amazon back in 2016 thinking I was going to give it a try, but I kept putting it off. Even in this day and age of Goggling or YouTubing any skill you want to acquire, actually doing it is another matter. The thought made me uncomfortable.

Here’s the garment that inspired me. Adorable, right?


I’ve had this on my Pinterest page forever and I knew someday… Well, I was truly inspired when I saw one of the stitchers on our Facebook Group, Linda, was doing ruffles. Here was someone I could actually ask questions of, and I did. Thank you Linda for providing some great insight.

I’ve been working with a palette of Twilight and Navy lately and I thought this would work perfect for this jacket. So, first to cut the fabric from the Classic Jacket Pattern on my CD from Natalie’s Sewing Patterns book.


Since the body of the jacket doesn’t have any stencil or embellishment this part worked up really quickly. Next for the binding/ruffle – here’s where Linda’s advice truly came in handy. She mentioned that when attaching the ruffle she used a strip of fabric 5/8″ wide on both the top and the bottom of the ruffle to give it the structure it needs.


To make it all the way around the jacket and the sleeves (both in front and in back) I ended up cutting four 5/8″ strips across the grain using the whole 56″ width of the navy fabric.

Then I cut white strips that were 1 1/4″ for the ruffle. I had some scraps of white left over that I played around with first and that I used to make the smaller lengths for the sleeves but I would say I used at least five 56″ wide strips for the whole jacket. I know there is a good mathematical formula out there for how long a strip you need to make a certain length of ruffles, but I winged it, and had to go back at the end and make more.

I tried out the pleating board I had bought but I really didn’t like the size of the ruffle, 3/4″ was too wide.


So I YouTubed it and decided to try and make my own pleating board with materials I had on hand. Although it wasn’t a bad attempt, my cardboard just wasn’t cutting it so I ended up doing most of the pleating by hand. I did end up using a 1/4″ wide strip of cardboard to kind of help as a guide as I folded.

Official pleating board on top (too big), my handmade board down below (too big and clunky) and you can see where I just cut one little strip of cardboard on the right side of the photo, that is what I used.

Much folding and pinning later I had a decent strip of ruffles.


Next I cheated a little and used my sewing machine to baste the ruffles. I’m sure most people would iron them flat at this point but I think with this new smaller size ruffle if it were ironed it would probably just show my imperfections. I think if I had used the 3/4″ ruffle, I would have wanted the ironed look. I did just watch Project Runway All Stars where Isaac’s advice to a budding young Michelle on how to take your sewing to the next level was in fact, ironing. I’ve never been good at taking advice.

Now, to put it all together. I always pull out my book with instructions because inevitably I will need to refer to it.

I tried pinning the ruffle binding combo on the jacket but it became obvious when I was done that there was no way I could stitch with just the pins in, it needed more stability since there were so many parts. I decided I would baste the edges down first before I went back and stitched them together with the cretan stitch.

The trickiest part here was going around the corner on the bottom front edges of the jacket. I ended up cutting the curve of the jacket a little rounder. Not sure if this was the right move since now my ruffle really spreads out as it rounds the corner but that doesn’t really bother me too much.


Putting the cretan in the corner was also a challenge.


But once I took the basting stitch out, it turned out much better than I thought it would when I was bogged down in the details. The whole really is better than the sum of the parts.

Here’s what the wrong side looks like. It was tough to get both sides lined up perfectly and I decided I would rather have the front look good. Maybe next time I’ll baste the front and back binding strips separately to make sure they line up better.


Another challenge was the sleeves. As they were already constructed I didn’t have any flat surface so placing the binding and ruffles together and getting them basted down was hard. And, I hadn’t measured out the exact length for either my binding or my ruffle so they all ended up overlapping. I think if I were to do it again I may want to add the ruffle before I constructed the sleeve.


And that was it. Probably one of the quickest makes I’ve ever done. I was zipping out to the studio to meet friends so I had to throw it on. It’s so easy to wear with jeans and a T Shirt.





My one comment on this pattern would be that I found it a little skinnier on my upper arms than other AC sleeve patterns. I will fix that next time.

Do you know how sometimes you just feel like you are vibing with the universe? Yesterday I’m flipping through my sister’s Southern Living magazine and what do I see:


These shoes seriously made me smile. I’m right on trend!

There’s always such a good feeling when you stretch yourself and try something you haven’t done before. Even if it doesn’t work out (#flowerboobs), you’ve grown.


4 thoughts on “Pleated Ruffles

  1. so glad you learned all those tricks before you make mine 😉 but seriously, that jacket looked stunning when the elevator opened and I saw it for the first time!


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