RUCHING – How to Sew Ruching – BEST Ways

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Sewing ruching is simply a way of gathering, pleating, or the folding of extra fabric.  A French word for ‘strip of cloth’, it is part of the French couture that can be used to make our garments fancier.  Here I will show you 4 different approaches on how to sew ruching.

How to Sew RuchingPinHow to Sew Ruching


What is Ruching?More Articles On GatheringPattern Alterations for RuchingHow to Sew Ruching Tutorial – 4 MethodsMethod #1: Ruching with ElasticMethod #2: How to Sew Ruching with GatheringMethod #3: How to Sew Ruching with CordMethod # 4: Ruching with PleatingRuching FAQsWhat Does Ruching Mean?Difference between Ruching and ShirringHow to Sew Ruching – In ConclusionMore Elastic Articles

What is Ruching?

Ruching is a technique used to gather and create volume, texture and interest in skirts, sleeves, and bodices. It is created by gathering and pleating excess fabric and can be symmetrical or asymmetrical in design. Ruching is especially popular on wedding gowns and gives the bride an opportunity to show off a bit of extra frill and fancy.

Uses of Ruching

Ruching can be used in various garments and in various places. Here are some examples of how ruching can be used:

Dresses – Ruching can be used in the bodice and is particularly beautiful when done using sheer fabrics around the bust line. Sheer fabrics may need to be lined underneath the ruching. Ruching can be used on the sides of modern stretch dresses or at the hem of period costumes. Swimsuits and Leotards – Ruching is often used at the waistline to add shape and interest. Maternitywear – Ruching is used at the waist of maternity wear to add volume to the front to allow for an expanding belly. It makes clothing more comfortable for expecting mothers. How to Sew RuchingHow to Sew RuchingPinHow to Sew Ruching

More Articles On Gathering

How to Gather by MachineHow to Gather by HandShirring (Sewing with Elastic Thread)Gathering with a SergerHow to Sew RuchingGathering with CordGathering with ElasticHow to gather TulleGathering FootRufflerGathering FabricTypes of RufflesSewing FlouncesGathering Stitch

Pattern Alterations for Ruching

There are a few ways you can apply ruching to a garment and if you are following a pattern there should be detailed instructions but if you decide you liked a picture you saw with ruching then you will need to choose your own variation.

Ruching in FormalwearRuching in FormalwearPinRuching in Formalwear

If your pattern needs altering, you will need to create length in the area to be ruched. This skirt with one side seam ruched is a common modern style using ruching. Elongate the pattern on the side you want the ruching. The greater the asymmetry in the hem of the pattern piece, the greater the gathering that will be created.

Ruching - Altering the PatternRuching - Altering the PatternPinRuching – Altering the Pattern

How to Sew Ruching Tutorial – 4 Methods

These are the 4 most common methods of gathering with ruching

Ruching with elasticHow to sew ruching with gatheringRuching with cordRuching with pleats

Method #1: Ruching with Elastic

You will often see ruching with elastic used in gathering leotard necklines and stretch fabric but it works equally well for wovens.

Why Use Elastic for Ruching? The elastic is used to gather up the fabric at the point where you require some extra fullness for example in the bust or neckline. Or perhaps you had too much fullness and want to make the garment more fitting. It can also be used for decorative purposes and is common in costumes.

Ruching in NecklinesRuching in NecklinesPinRuching in Necklines

Sewing Elastic for Ruching

Start by cutting the elastic to the length you want the finished ruching.

Pin either end of the elastic along the fabric to be ruched at its full length. Because the fabric is longer than the elastic, it will gather in between the endpoints. The ruching occurs when the elastic causes the material to scrunch up but is still loose enough to pull on.

Pin either end of the elastic along the fabric to be ruched at its full length. Because the fabric is longer than the elastic, it will gather in between the endpoints. The ruching occurs when the elastic causes the material to scrunch up but is still loose enough to pull on.

Ruching with ElasticRuching with ElasticPinRuching with Elastic

Backstitch well at the beginning to secure elastic and then stitch while gently pulling the elastic to get the elastic to fit all the way to the end of the ruched area. You will generally need to pull the elastic both in front and behind the sewing machine foot.

You can straight-stitch the elastic or zig-zag over it. My preference is a small zig-zag but you can experiment to see which you like the look of best.

Ruching with ElasticRuching with ElasticPinRuching with Elastic

Notice my stitches skipped in the middle of the elastic. This could have been easily prevented by using a stretch needle. (Read sewing machine needle types). Careful you don`t pull the elastic too hard as you sew over it or you will create uneven length stitches.

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Turn the fabric to the right side and this is how it will look. Lovely gathered ruching!

How to Sew Ruching with ElasticHow to Sew Ruching with ElasticPinHow to Sew Ruching with Elastic

Method #2: How to Sew Ruching with Gathering

Sew a gathering stitch over the middle or top of the strip with the longest stitch on your machine.

Depending on the amount of control you want in your gathers, you may sew 2 or 3 lines of gathering.

Pull up the threads of cotton to gather the ruched strip and make sure the gathers are even and fit the area that you have decided to put a strip of ruching over.

How to Sew Ruching with GatheringHow to Sew Ruching with GatheringPinHow to Sew Ruching with Gathering

Use the ruched strip as a frill or a ruffle on any part of a garment you wish to decorate. Further reading:How to gather

Ruching with GatheringRuching with GatheringPinRuching with Gathering

Method #3: How to Sew Ruching with Cord

You can also sew ruching by creating a casing through which to thread a cord or a fabric pull tie.

This casing can be on the outside of the garment for a decorative effect and for a punch of contrast color, or on the inside for an invisible finish.

Cut a strip of fabric around 1 ½ inches wide (4cm). The length will be that of the garment edge to be gathered and add ½ inch (12mm) for seam allowances on the top and bottom.

On the wrong side of the strip, press the raw edges over by ¼ inch (6mm) all the way around.

Ruching with CordRuching with CordPinRuching with Cord

Place the strip right side up on the main fabric. This may be on the outside or inside of the garment depending on the look you want.

Stitch around the outside of the strip leaving one end open. Stitch up the middle leaving a ¾ inch (2cm) gap at the closed end.

Ruching with CordRuching with CordPinRuching with CordRuching with CordRuching with CordPinRuching with Cord

Attach your cord to a safety pin and thread it up, turn at the top and go down the other side. It does take a little maneuvering to navigate the turn at the top.

Pull the cord to your desired length and cut any excess cord. You can knot the ends to stop it from pulling through or alternatively put a couple of stitches at the top.

How to Sew Ruching with CordHow to Sew Ruching with CordPinHow to Sew Ruching with Cord

Look at is an example of cord ruching used on the inside of the dress to create interesting features.

Ruching with CordRuching with CordPinRuching with Cord

Method # 4: Ruching with Pleating

Instead of gathering, a ruched effect can be achieved by pleating the strip of fabric to fit into a bodice or on a sleeve or around any part of the garment you would like to add some detail.  Pleated ruching gives a very dramatic effect on ball gowns and bridal gowns. Read all about how to sew pleats.

Thinner fabric works best so try out the fabric first with a strip to see if it is a suitable weight for the ruched effect.

Ruching with PleatsRuching with PleatsPinRuching with Pleats

Ruching FAQs

What Does Ruching Mean?

Ruching is a gathering method whereby elastic, fabric or cord is manipulated to give a pleated or rippled look. It is widely used in the production of wedding gowns and can be used to create interesting volume in dresses, skirts and tops.

Difference between Ruching and Shirring

Shirring is created using elastic thread in the bobbin to create an elastic band around a waistband or dress. Volume is not created in the same way as ruching. Basically, you will put the shirring elastic in the bobbin and normal thread in the top.

Further reading: how to sew shirring.

How to Sew Ruching with ShirringHow to Sew Ruching with ShirringPinHow to Sew Ruching with Shirring

How to Sew Ruching – In Conclusion

Learning how to sew ruching is one of those clever little ways to add a bit of sparkle to your dressmaking.  It will help you turn a ‘plain Jane’ item into a sassy little piece of ruched haute couture!

Looking for More on Sewing Elastic

Learn all about sewing elastic for waistbands and fabric edges with this easy tutorial that will show you the best methods for various items.

More Elastic Articles

Types of ElasticHow to Sew Leotard ElasticSewing Fold Over ElasticHow to Gather Knit Fabric with ElasticSewing Elastic Thread – ShirringRuchingSewing Lingerie ElasticHow to Sew an Elastic WaistbandBinding Leotards and SwimsuitsSewing Elastic

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