I love ruffles! Lots of them. I love flounces too which are essentially long ruffles. I also love skirts with a few deep flounces attached. (I’m such a nerdy girly-girl.) Perhaps you love flounces to.
So when your design calls for three flounces on your wide c.1855 skirt, where do you begin?
Well, maybe…. But how do you figure for the width of each one? And if you’re like me, you’ll want to know exactly how many inches up from the hem they should be attached.
Many skirts I’ve seen in period photographs or fashion plates tend to be 3 to 5 flounces. Of course by the time 1860 rolls around they’re showing as many as 10+ rows of ruffles! But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just stick to 4 here on our example – which happens to be an organdy petticoat as this method is PERFECT for petticoat flounces too.
Figuring Stitch Line Placement
- You’ll want to figure the finished length of your skirt. And then you’ll want to actually finish the hem before mounting the flounces. But leave the waist unfinished as it’s easier to set on the flounce.
- Decide on the number of flounces (3 to 5) and where you want the top flounce to start. This will be your stitch line. Take a look at existing garments and fashion plates to give you an idea of where to place it. Generally, a few inches below the waistband is good.
- Measure from the top stitch line placement you decided on down to the finished hem. If your finished skirt length is 40″ and you want the top ruffle 10″ below the waistband, you have 30″.
- Divide the measurement by the number of ruffles you want. 30″ divided by 4 = 7.5″ This is the space between stitch lines.
- Mark the stitching lines on your skirt with a hand basting stitch or disappearing pen. Measure up from the finished hem 7.5″. Move up another 7.5″ from the first stitch line and mark the second line. Repeat for the final rows of stitch lines.
Figuring Cut Width of Your Ruffles
Now, avoid this mistake: DON’T just take the measure of your skirt from that top stitch line down to the hem and divide by 4 (the number of ruffles you want) and think that is your finished ruffle width. No. This would make your project look like it came from the 10th grade sewing classroom.
- You now know that there will be 7.5″ between each ruffle seam. You’ll have to decide how you want to mount your ruffles: 1) flat on the skirt (wrong side of ruffle to right side of skirt; 2) the seam allowance tucked under where you sew right side to right side then flip the ruffle down covering the seam allowance; or 3) with a header.
You’ll want to allow for an overlap of each ruffle. Even if your three flounces are all 12″ wide, the placement stitch lines will be more like 10″ apart so the ruffle above covers the seam of one below it.
- Take your 7.5″ and add how much overlap you want. Start with 1/2″. You can go deep with a 2″ overlap if you want. We’ll use 1″ for our example. So 7.5″ + 1″ = 8.5″.
- Add to this a hem allowance (I like 1/2″ but it depends on your particular project.) 8.5″ + 0.5″ = 9″
- Now add your top edge treatment allowance. For now let’s use #2 (from above) which will add only a 1/2″ seam allowance to the top. 9″ + 0.5″ = 9.5″. This is the ruffle cut width.
- Cut strips of your fabric needed to gather properly around the skirt, piece the strips, hem and prepare the top treatment.
Attaching to the Skirt
- Start from the hem and work your way up.
- You may realize that all ruffle strips include overlap. The very bottom ruffle, when stitched on at your first 7.5″ stitch line will hang over the hem by the 1″ overlap. This is cool as it hides the hem.
But you may not want it that way. That’s ok. You can either re-draw your stitch lines by starting the first one above the hem at 8.5″ above the finished hem then re-mark the other three lines at 7.5″ apart.
And that’s how you make an even-tiered flounced skirt!