Making a Ruffled Dress?

I have a 12 year old daughter who wants to learn how to make a ruffled dress. She has tried to sew a skirt, but just can't figure it out. She doesn't have a sewing machine yet, but I'm getting her one for Christmas. She can sew a straight line almost perfectly. She has been practicing very hard lately. Since Christmas is a while away, and she wants the dress for school, I was wondering if I need to get her the sewing machine now?


Does it really matter or do you think that she will be able to make the dress without it? That was one question, my second is, how does she make ruffles for the dress and does she need my help. Even though I haven't touched a sewing machine in my life.


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August 13, 20120 found this helpful

Ruffled skirts usually mean graduated panels of fabric with each panel a little wider than the last so that the gathering of each panel to fit onto the last gives the ruffles the fullness needed for the look.


Try looking at this page for more info on sewing ruffles, I think after you read it you may decide it's time NOW for the sewing machine:

This one is on making one style of ruffled skirt:

And this one is a different style:

As you can see, a sewing machine makes quick work of sewing either style, and at 12 your daughter is at the perfect age to take responsibility for her own fashions, so I'd say get her that machine, Mom, so she can learn to sew and make some of her own school clothes:)

As a sewing teacher, may I make a suggestion regarding which machine to buy her? Look for a 'top drop-in bobbin' machine with as few whistles and bells as possible! The top drop-in bobbin makes it a lot easier for a newbie to maintain enthusiasm for sewing because the sewer simply drops the bobbin into the slot on top of the machine-it's very easy, can be done with one hand and is practically foolproof.


The 'front or side load' bobbin systems require a considerable amount of coordination and most newcomers to sewing no matter what the age find the front or side load bobbin system to be so difficult to manage that they give up on sewing altogether.

On a front or side load bobbin system machine, to insert the bobbin the sewer has to hold and lift a lever on the little insertable bobbin case at the same time, AND fit it into the machine 'just so' to seat it properly-all at the same time. If not done correctly, the bobbin case 'jumps out of the track and the sewer has to stop sewing, cut any tangled threads out and then try again with the bobbin. It can be extremely frustrating for an excited beginning sewer to have to constantly hope she has got the bobbin seated properly, and as above, a lot of beginning sewers give up because the machine is too frustrating. A top drop-in bobbin system eliminates all of that frustration. All the sewer does is drop in the bobbin and start sewing.


Expect to pay around $100USD for a basic top drop in bobbin system machine that will sew with your daughter for about ten years if treated properly. WalMart used to carry a nice little top drop in bobbin Singer for under $100 but I didn't see any Singers in WalMart last year (2011) whilst in the States on holiday. You can find it on Amazon, though.

One thing to avoid is a used machine at this point because you never know (unless it's Gran's retired machine) how the machine was treated when with the original owner; another thing to avoid is over-buying a machine. With sewing machines it's best to start small.

If you decide to go through a dealer, you may find a few introductory classes are included with the price of the machine, but if you are on a budget you probably won't be using a dealer to purchase that first machine, so be sure to bookmark those pages I linked, especially the aboutDOTcom one-she has a complete learn to sew section:) Also, Simplicity's website has great info for the beginner sewer:


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August 13, 20120 found this helpful

I often give my kids presents early, and if she is practicing, she must be doing it by hand. I would give it to her now.

You didn't mention what kind of ruffles. There are many styles. You can cut fabric in a circular pattern and when it's sewn on straight, it ruffles. You can baste fabric by hand and gather it evenly, then sew it on the machine. You can sew as you go by pushing the fabric strip as you sew. You can also make "A" line panels that when they are sewn together make the skirt flare.


Here are just some I got on Google when I put in "making ruffled dresses".

Simple sewing patterns can be found at walmart for about .96 or was when I last tried to buy a pattern there. Have someone you know help you both to learn to sew, and it will be a memory for her that will last two lifetimes.

I hope this helped. PBP

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August 13, 20120 found this helpful

By the time I was 12 I had been using a sewing machine for at least 5 years. When you buy a dress pattern that includes ruffles there will be very clear directions about how to do them. Since you don't sew, this would be a good way for your daughter to learn. Pick a simple pattern! Sometimes a sewing class will come with the purchase of a new machine. That's a good idea also. You may be able to get some help from clerks in a fabric store. They usually have to be able to sew in order to get a job there. If you go in when they are not busy they will help.

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August 27, 20120 found this helpful

Besides starting to sew at home with my Mother, I had a great 4-H sewing leader, and of course Home Ec. At the fabric store they probably can give you leads on a sewing teacher or classes. Why don't you learn to sew at the same time as your daughter?

Most important, have fun at it! Blessings and happy memories to you both.

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August 29, 20120 found this helpful

Having learned on a treadle machine we ruffled by hand. Sew 2 parallel lines on the material you want to ruffle, leaving a couple of inches on both ends. Tie one end of threads together, then take the other 4 threads on the other end and start gathering - gently. This way you can see how gathered you actually want it and make sure what you gather will actually fit around you. After all is gathered, tie the threads and then run another single thread through the ruffles (between the 2 gathering threads) to hold everything in place. It seems a lot more complicated to explain than it actually is to do. Trust me, it's really simple. Good luck on whatever way you choose to go.

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