{Ruching} 4 ways to ruche fabric and its many uses in sewing

What is Ruching?

Ruche in French refers to a strip of folded or gathered cloth. Ruching, as we sewists say it, involves gathering, pleating or repeatedly folding a fabric as an embellishment. This is then incorporated into a pattern, when making clothes, on sleeves, bodices, waistline seams , on accents like collars, belts, on accessories like sashes, hats etc.

what is ruching

Ruching is an oft-used technique in dressmaking – it creates a 3-dimensional look to the fabric and emphasizes the contours of the form wearing it.

Most of the time it is applied against a plain seam and the contrast between the gathered/ ruched side and the plain seam side can be striking when applied appropriately. In the hands of a designer who knows his craft ruching can turn a garment into quite a master piece, as it was done in the elaborate gowns in Victorian England.

In mind, I can picture a lady of the court wearing a diaphanous Grecian gown which is ruched on one shoulder or an elaborate gown which is ruched in all the places. 


In modern fashion, you will find ruching done all the time on wedding gowns & party gowns. 

ruching on wedding gown

Uses of ruching in sewing clothes

You can use ruching in your everyday clothes in a subtle way 

Ruching used in sleeve patterns

How to incorporate ruching into sleeves

If you want your sleeves to have ruching done on selected places you will have to alter the pattern of the normal sleeve and add extra fabric where you want to ruche

Cut out the normal sleeve pattern and make long slashes along the edge of the area where you want the ruching done. 

ruching fabric

Cut out the slashes and spread them as much as you want – depending on the fullness you want

ruching on fabric

You can pleat the extra fullness or gather with basting stitches

ruching on fabric diy

ruched sleeve

Another ruched sleeve which has drapey folds

To make this sleeve you will have to add 6 inches extra to the length of a normal sleeve. The sides and bottom edge will be same that of a normal sleeve

ruching sleeves

Cut out the fabric pattern.

ruched sleeve diy

Fold and stitch the top edge into neat folds.

ruching

ruching

Ruching done on a waistband

waist band

Ruching used on bodices and on accents on bodices

ruching

Ruching ribbons and used as trims

different typesof ribbon for embroidery

4 ways of Ruching fabric

1 Gathering with basting stitches

This is the easiest method of ruching. Basting stitches are long stitches you make with a hand needle or your sewing machine which is then pulled to gather the fabric to contain fullness. This gathering creates automatic folds in the fabric, which is what ruching is all about. You will have to adjust the gathers and then stitch along the gathers with regular stitch to keep the gathers in place.

2 Stitching with elastic thread

This method of stitching with elastic thread is called shirring. Checkout the post on sewing with elastic thread (shirring) here for more details. You get the same effect as gathering this way, with minimum effort. Elastic thread is used in the bobbin and regular thread is used as the top thread. On the surface of the fabric, you  cannot see the elastic thread.

3 Pleating the fabric

Ruching is not simply gathering – it involves pleating, folding and other fabric manipulations as well . 

In simply gathering with elastic thread or gathering with basting stitches, you donot have any control of how the fabric will look finally. But with ruching you have full control. You arrange the fabric the way you want, fix the pleats/ arrangements or gathers with basting stitches or pin , then stitch in place with regular stitches and then stitch the ruched edge to another fabric edge ( mostly not ruched)

You can skillfully pleat the fabric to get the ruched effect. You will have to use about 3 times the length of the pattern piece to be able to pleated this way.

Pleat and stitch along one edge

ruching dress bodice

Complete pleating on the other side

ruching diy tutorial

4 Hand stitching a ruche with smocking stitches

This is done with tying knots in the back of the fabric in a pattern. This is also termed as lattice smocking. You can create a variety of such fabric folding by using this method

ruching

A simple way of doing this – You will have to mark the back side of the fabric to be ruched . Here I have marked lines 1″ apart. Then made markings 2 inch apart on the lines. On alternating lines the markings are made so that it lies between the markings on the above and below lines.(as in the picture below).

how to ruche fabric

Then Hand sewing needle and thread is used to gather the markings ( on the back of the fabric). I have made small knots on the markings 1/4 inch deep.A twist with the thread after one or two stitches would do the thing.

ruching fabric

When it is done on all the markings it will look like this.

ruching

On the front of the fabric an automatic ruched pattern is made.

ruching

I have seen this type of ruching done on beautiful bedspreads in high end bed linen showrooms – so easy but looks so beautiful. 

ruching fabric

 

Ref : French word meaning ruche 

Comments 3

  1. Hello, I need help. I have an evening dress that I want to add a satin neckline. The shape of the neckline is a boat shape and I want to bring it a little closer to the neck all the way to the back. Can you help me with some instructions, will be appreciated.

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