Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bonus Tutorial: Fabric Ruffle Garland!

Okay, remember that absolutely fabulous pink ruffle garland that was the shining star in yesterday's Ballerina party post?  Well, it just so happens that I cannot stop thinking about draping them all over the house...different shades & hues for fall combined with rustic materials like burlap & linen to create ruffle upon ruffle of gorgeous autumn-whimsical fun.

But while I try to reign it in over here and stick to just a couple of strands over the mantle and along the backs of the dining room chairs (perfect for Thanksgiving!!), here are two fun little tutorials (one for sewing machine crafters and the other for those without:)  from The Sweetest Occasion and A Beautiful Nest to get you started in creating a few fluffy frills of your own . . .

(Courtesy of Jenny from Hank & HuntThe Sweetest Occasion)

Supplies You Will Need:
~ 4 yards of fabric
~ Rotary cutter
~ Pinking shears
~ Thread and needle
~ Sewing machine
~ Twill tape or ribbon


1.) Wash, dry and iron the fabric. Lightweight cotton (like muslin or cotton gauze) works best. Fold in half with the cut ends together, then fold in half three or four more times the same way. This shortens the length so the width can fit on the table cutting mat. Using a ruler, cut 3” strips perpendicular to the cut edge. This makes 3” by 4 yard long strips. Four yards of fabric will make at least 12 strips, depending on the width of the fabric. Now, take two strips and layer them on top of each other, right sides facing out.

2.) Thread the needle with a 2 yard length of thread, doubling over so you have a total length of 36”. Knot the end of the thread so it won’t pull through the fabric. Starting about 2-3” from the end of the strip, start sewing a straight gathering stitch down the center of both strips. Continue until you reach the end of your thread. Gently gather, keeping ruffles evenly spaced and flat. Continue sewing the gathering stitch to the end of your thread again.

3.) Gently gather, and repeat. For the chair garland, I gathered four times total. For a longer garland, you would continue sewing and gathering until you reach the desired length. See #10 for how to join more strips of fabric continuously.

4.) Once you have the length of garland you need, tie off the thread in a knot to hold the gather. Trim the end of the strip, with pinking shears, about 2-3” from the end knot. Trim the beginning end of the strip, if you haven’t already.

5.) Now, for the sewing machine part. Using the zigzag stitch setting on the machine, shorten your stitch length setting so you have a thick embroidery style stitch. Starting 2-3” in from the end, stitch a straight line down the center of the gathered strips. This strengthens your gather, stitching it in place so it won’t break or move along the gathering stitch line.

6.) Be careful that the ends of your fabric don’t get caught under the needle; this is why we keep the ruffle flat with the edges to the side.

**This step is REALLY important and without it, your garland gather can break. My first few garlands, used a plain straight stitch for securing, and their durability was very delicate. The embroidery stitch not only looks prettier, but is strong enough to endure more than one party.**  Continue sewing until you reach the end knot. Stop and trim your threads.

7.) Cut two pieces of twill tape about a yard each. Fold in half and insert the folded end into the end of the strip, between the two layers.

8.) Sew the embroidery stitch about ¼” from the end to the existing embroidery stitch. Stop, take out and trim threads.

9.) Stitch the embroidery stitch across the end of the strips perpendicular to the length of the garland, as shown. Repeat on the other side to attach the other tie.


(***AMAZING tip from Jenny!!) Let me introduce you to my little friend…THE RUFFLER.  Without it, I wouldn’t have sewn more than two or three garlands and with it I have sewn bolts of them. If you are planning to make garlands for your party or wedding, I’m telling you now… you need to get one for your machine. It’s called a ruffling foot and they make it for most sewing machines. For those of you that don’t sew much, you might not even know this…your machine can use different feet. All those fancy little rolled edges, attaching zippers easily, free form designs and YES, RUFFLES…it’s all in the foot. There is a lot of skill involved with sewing, but I promise you that if you can sew a straight line, you, too, can use THE RUFFLER. I know it sounds dramatic, but it really is called that for my machine. I have the box to prove it.

10.) Let’s make a garland with The Ruffler. Take your two strips and insert them together through The Ruffler, pull through gently so you have about an inch or two at the end.

11.) Make sure you are centered in the strip, and sew just like it was a straight line. Go ahead, smile because it’s so easy.

12.) This little baby will evenly stitch even little gathers all day long. Stop when you have the length you need. Switch out to your regular foot and continue with steps 4 & 5. **Make sure you are sending the garland through the machine in the same direction, or it could pull the gather out.

ADDING MORE LENGTH: If you want to increase the length of your garland and have reached the end of your strip:
About 2” to the very end (make sure your ends are trimmed), insert the next two strips, right in between them in the center and continue sewing.
*This also works for hand gathering. Insert strips and continue sewing.

Directions for using garland:

1. FLUFF – Gently pull layers of fabric apart on each side.
2. HANG.

No Sewing Machine Fabric Ruffle Garland
(courtesy of A Beautiful Nest)

Supplies You Will Need:
~ awl
~ wire cutters
~ 12 gauge jewelry wire
~ linen or linen look-alike
~ fabric scissors
~ decorative ribbon for ends {if desired}

(in Jenni's words:)

1.) Begin by tearing strips of linen, about five or so inches wide. I found when I tore it versus cut it, the edges curled a wee bit, making it fuller and ruffly.  To make tearing the linen easier, I cut in a couple inches first.

2.) Next I used an awl, which is pictured below; it is the small tool on the bottom. {The other tool is a pair of wire cutters.}

3.) Starting at one end of each strip, I began making holes in the linen with the awl, spacing them about an inch or so apart. They do not need to be perfectly evenly spaced, and as you can see, mine sure aren't! ;)

4.) At this point, I started weaving my linen strips through the holes,

5.) And scrunching up several folds at a time before sliding it down the wire, and weaving more of the strip on.

6.) I continued this until my garland was right length, then shaped the wire ends on each side into hooks to hang the garland. 

7.)  {I used thumb tacs on the top of my mantel to hang the garland from.}  I twisted the ruffles this way and that until I got the the look I wanted. 

8.) After it was hung, a little more tufting and twisting...until it was just right. :) I also added a lace ribbon to each side...

So darn beautiful and just pretty as a picture, no?  What's great is that these are the type of decorations that last forever, so even if you are using a bit more material or spending a little more time than you normally would, you will be pulling these babies out year after year to enjoy again and again!

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to pop back over tomorrow for an awesome new segment from Meggie by FROSTED!!!  See you then! Photobucket

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