How To Make A Ruched Shirt

Add ruffles to your collars and pleats to your sleeves with this simple and attractive technique.

Ruching, a French term for pleated or ruffled trim, is easier than you might think. In no time at all, you give unique finishing touches to a home-sewn shirt or renew interest in a tired old blouse. All you'll need are a bit of ribbon and a piece of left-over fabric.

You can ruche just about any part of the shirt to which you'd like to add a pleated look. This article will take you through the steps of ruching the side seams up from the waist hem. You'll want to either use a too-large T-shirt or a shirt pattern you've cut a little long (and finished sewing up). The ruching will bunch up this extra length into an attractive vertical ruffles.

First, cut out a rectangle of fabric for use as casing. To find its length, measure up from the side seam to a point several inches above where your waist will be when you wear the shirt. Add an inch and a half to that measurement; this is for hem allowance. To find the casing's width, start with an inch and a half for hemming, add twice the width of your ribbon or cording, and then add a half inch more so the ribbon will have a little room to move.

I like to give this casing an enclosed narrow hem by pressing the edges over twice at quarter inches. But since the casing will be on the inside of your shirt where no one will see much of it, you may prefer a simpler hem or even none at all. If so, just alter the above measurements accordingly.

Don't get too hung up on each quarter inch. Minor imprecisions won't ruin the final product.

After hemming (or not), center the casing fabric over the side seam of your shirt's wrong side, aligning the casing's bottom edge with the inside edge of the shirt's waist hem. You'll sew down the casing with three vertical lines. Sew one line straight up its center along the shirt's existing side-seam, beginning at the bottom edge of the casing and stopping just a ribbon's-width short of the top. Sew the other two seams about a quarter-inch in from each of the casing's edges.

Now thread the ribbon through the two resulting tubes. (You can make this task easier by attaching a safety pin to the head of the ribbon.) The two ends of the ribbon should hang out at the shirt's hem, and the ribbon should bend under the casing fabric above where you ended the center seam.

Even up your ribbon so that the two trailing ends are equal in length. Then run a short seam right across the bend in the ribbon, anchoring it in place at the top of the casing. Pull the ribbons tight, tie them off in a bow, and distribute the resulting pleats evenly along their length. That's all there is to it! Just repeat these steps for the other side seam, and your newly ruched shirt will be ready to show off.

Other ruching ideas include the outside length of a sleeve, a few vertical inches at the center of a T-shirt collar, or even a small-of-the-back cinching for a tunic. Explore the styles on display at your local department store, keeping your eyes open for new possibilities. You'll start noticing this attractive technique everywhere--and you'll want to wear more of it yourself!

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