In this post, I’m going to share a step-by-step tutorial for how to sew the shoulder ruffles, including a video on how to create the curled “lettuce edge” hem on an overlocker (AKA serger). If you don’t have this machine, don’t worry – keep reading to the end where I share an alternative method of making shoulder ruffles using just a regular sewing machine.
Open the pattern file in Adobe Reader (you can download it for free). Print the pattern on either A4 or Letter size paper, selecting “actual size” or “set scaling to 100%” or “turn off scaling” in your print settings. You can double check the pattern has printed at full scale by measuring the test square – it should be exactly 60mm x 60mm. Cut off the borders and join the sheets together with glue or tape, lining up the triangles.
You will need:
A small length of leftover fabric (you can probably cut the ruffles using scraps)
Three cones or spools of thread (see below*)
Overlocker or serger (don’t have an overlocker? Scroll to the bottom for how to sew the ruffle on a regular sewing machine)
Regular sewing machine
*When choosing your thread for the lettuce edges, bear in mind that the thread will be visible on the edge of the ruffles. You could opt for a colour that matches your fabric, or use a toning or contrast colour to create a deliberate effect. I made my version during lockdown when I didn’t have immediate access to lots of thread, so went with trusty black.
Start sewing your top or dress, joining the bodice at the shoulders, but don’t attach the sleeves yet.
Use the free pattern above to cut two ruffles in your fabric, snipping the centre notch on the curved edge. If your fabric has a directional print, cut the ruffles with the straight edge at the top.
TIP: Cut a spare ruffle or two to practise your lettuce edge hem 🙂
Sew three parallel rows of long gather stitches along the curved edges, without backtacking, and leaving long loose threads at each end.
Sew the lettuce edge hem along the straight edge of each ruffle. Here’s how…
You can still add ruffles to your top or dress! You won’t get the curly stretched out edge, but you’ll still end up with a cute, gathered ruffle. This method would work best on lighter-weight knit fabrics such as jersey, ponte and French terry (as opposed to a thick sweatshirt fleece).
Add seam allowance to the straight edge of the ruffle pattern and cut four pieces instead of two. Place two ruffle pieces right sides together and stitch together along the straight edge using either a straight stitch, narrow zigzag, stretch or lightning stitch. Trim the seam allowances, press them open, then press the pieces wrong sides together. Repeat with the other pair of ruffles.
Now you can attach the curved edges of the ruffles to the shoulders as described below, treating the two layers as one…
You should have sewn the front and back bodice pieces together at the shoulders, but not yet attached the sleeves. Open out the bodice at the shoulders and lay it right side up. Lay the raw edge of the ruffles against the shoulder seams, right sides together. Pin them together at the shoulder notches, and pin the ends roughly where the sleeve notches are (it’s up to you where you want the ruffles to finish).
Pull on the ends of the gather threads to gather up the fabric until the ruffles fit the shoulders, then even out the gathers with your fingers and secure in place with plenty of pins.
You can now use a regular sewing machine to tack (baste) the ruffles in place, 10mm (3/8in) from the raw edges. Follow the pattern instructions to attach the sleeves (the ruffles sandwiched between the bodice and sleeves), then finish your top or dress as normal.
And that’s it! Super cute shoulder ruffles with impressive lettuce edge hems.
If you add these ruffles to your own Billie, Freya or Tabitha top, we would love to see! Do share with us on Instagram @TillyButtons.