Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ruffle-Bottom Cardigan Tutorial

It seems like ruffles are everywhere these days. And since I love anything with a vintage/romantic feel - I'm all over that trend.

I bought this cardigan at the thrift store for $2 - seems I can't pass up a cardigan when I see one at a good price.

There was really nothing terribly wrong with it - it was a little on the boxy side though, a little boring, and I already have a couple of plain orangey cardigans.

I also had this shirt (size 2XL) that I received for free off of Freecycle.

I decided to marry the two together, using the shirt to make a ruffle for the bottom of the cardigan. Finished result:

And a little how-to:

First I wanted to take in the side of the cardigan a little to achieve a slightly less boxy shape. To do this, first turn your cardigan inside out, and figure out how much you want to take in. Place a pin or 2 where you want your new seam to be. I wanted to take about an inch in at the bottom so I placed a pin there.

Then lay your cardigan flat and angle your pins up to the arm pit. Do this on both sides.

Then sew along your pin line using a small stitch, be sure to back stitch at the start and stop.

Cut off excess fabric, leaving 1/4 - 1/2 inch seam.

Next, you want to move to the shirt you will be using for your ruffle. In this case, bigger is better because you will lose a lot of length when you ruffle - you probably want your shirt to be 1 1/2 to 2 times as wide as your cardigan.

Cut 4 inches off the bottom of the shirt - you will be preserving the hem of the shirt which means you won't have to hem it yourself. Cut one side seam off of your strip, to open it up into 1 long piece (not a circle). Hem 1 of your short ends. Now, sew a gathering stitch all across the cut edge. My machine sews a gathering stitch by setting the stitch length to the longest setting and the thread tension to the tightest setting. It's basically the same process as for making ruffles which I referred to here.

Here it is all gathered.

Now, starting with your 1 hemmed side, pin your ruffle to the inside bottom of your cardigan. You can pull on your gathering threads as you go to adjust the amount of ruffling, and to make the length of your strip match the length of your cardigan. When you've almost reached the end, fold over your unfinished end so that it will meet with the edge of your cardigan and hem (sorry I didn't get a picture of this step)

Now you can sew the ruffle on - just sew on using a small stitch length, close to the edge of your cardigan.

All sewn on.

And you're done. New fun, ruffly cardigan.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


  1. Great color combination! looks lovely.

  2. Yep - I'm adding this one to the list too. Looks like I'll need to go to the Thrift Store for more cardies!