How to Make an EASY Elizabethan Ruffle
How to Make a Ruff
The ruff is a wide pleated collar that emerges from around the neck or wrists. This distinctive fashion from Europe in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was often stiffened with starch or metal wire.Many people today make their own ruffs at home for Renaissance fairs. There are many different styles and types of ruffs; but you can make your own basic ruff relatively easily.
Preparing to Make your Ruff
Gather your materials.You will want thread, a neck or wrist band, a needle, scissors, and a lighter. It's helpful to have all your materials prepared before you begin. You'll also need a ribbon, but first you have to figure out some dimensions.
Measure your wrist or neck.Using a cloth tape measure, try to get an accurate measurement of your neck or wrist. If you’re making a ruff for your neck you might need to get someone to help you. This will inform your measurements as you make the material.
Get your ribbon made out of the most tightly woven fabric possible.Linen, Felt, or grosgrain are all good choices. Your ribbon’s length will depend on your neck size or wrist size, depending on what kind of ruff your making. You should add an extra 2 inches (5 centimeters) to account for the wearer’s shirt collar beneath the ruff.
- For example, you might get a ribbon that is 17 inches long (for a 15 inch neck) and 3 inches wide. This will create a ruff that is about 2.5 inches tall.
- The width of your ribbon will determine how high your final ruff will be.
Preparing the Ribbon
Cut off and burn the edge of the ribbon.Take a pair of scissors and cut the edge of the ribbon to make a smooth cut. Then, with a lighter, tea light, or another flame, gently heat the end of the ribbon until it begins to melt. Once it begins to melt, stop. This seals the end of the ribbon so that it does not fray later.
Mark the height of your ruff in increments along your ribbon.Make light marks so that they are not obviously visible later; you will not be washing your ruff. Some recommend making only tiny dots. Use a ruler and fabric or mechanical pencil. Go lengthwise and make marks every few inches or centimeters, according to your chosen height. Do this on both edges of the ribbon.
- If you want a three inch tall ruff, you should choose a tightly woven linen fabric In this case, there should be tiny dots every 3 inches along the longer length of the ribbon.
Stitch through the very end of your ribbon.It is a good idea to use a thread that is the same color as your ruff. Take your needle and thread and pierce through a corner of your ribbon very near where you have your tiny marked dots. Knot your thread.
- Switch through twice, going down and back to make sure your ruff is secure.
Gathering the Folds
Make your first fold.Skip over your first tiny mark and go to the second one. This is where you will start. Take the shorter end of your ribbon and fold it over your mark. Now sew through the tip of your fold. Pinch your ribbon together, and stitch through the tip where the mark is. Try to do this gently so as not to disturb the ribbon in your fold.
- Leave the loop as loose as possible. You shouldn’t pull your thread extremely tight. This will give you room to adjust your ruffles when you’re done. Don’t worry about leaving your ruff too loose, because you can always tighten and re-knot later.
Proceed to your second fold.Skip the next adjacent mark after your first fold and go to one after that. Take the shorter end and fold it over your mark. Now sew through the tip of your fold again.
Repeat this process until you reach the end of your ribbon.For every other mark, make a fold, pinch the ribbon, and sew through the mark at the tip. Remember to keep things loose and adjust at the end. Once you're done cut your thread. Knot the end of your thread and cut it off securely. This keeps the ruff together on one side.
- Don’t worry about the mess. When you let the ruff go from your fingers, it’ll look like a mess, not pleats. Just keep sewing, it will come together.
Sew the other side.Now you need to repeat the process to sew together the other side of the ribbon. You should see your other tiny marks on the other side of the ribbon that you have not sewn yet; use those to guide your sewing. You follow the exact same process that you used to make the first side.
- Adjust your ruffles as you like to get the shape and look you desire
Sewing in the Band
Set your ruffled ribbon on its side on flat surface.This is the trickiest part of making a ruff, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries. Set the neck band or wristband of your shirt up against the ruffle exactly how you plan to sew it on.
Sew the ruff and band together.The plan is to pierce your needle and thread through one corner of the neckband as close as possible to where your thread on the ruff is. You want to pierce your needle and thread through your ruff at the top of the first ruff loop. You also should be behind the first thread you used to make the ruffles. Loop your thread and needle back to the starting position for the next ruff loop.
- Pull tightly to bring your ruff and band close together.
Sew all the loops to the band.Going down the ruff, sew each loop in that manner: using your thread and needle to bring the ruff and band close together, then going forward to the next loop.
- Sew in a straight line, not zig-zags. Zig-zag threading will look less authentic
- Cut your thread once you've finished. Knot the end of your thread and cut it off securely.
Repeat the process on the other side.Once again, now you’ll have to sew the other side. This should be a little easier because your ruff is already attached to your band at the proper places; you only need to secure your band on the other side. Follow the same strategy.
Cut your thread again.Knot the end of your thread and cut it off securely, just like you did on the first side. You’re done! Congratulations.
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