How to Sew Vertical Ruffles on a Dress


Vertical ruffles add an elegant fall of feminine charm to a dress, taking it from something plain to something dressy. Vertical ruffles are slimming, drawing the eyes up and down, emphasizing a longer, leaner length, rather than horizontal ruffles that can make the wearer appear short and broad. Created from lace, knits, linens or other fabrics that blend in with the dress, vertical ruffles add style and can hide any figure imperfections.

Things You'll Need

  • Plain sheath dress or shirtwaist
  • Tape Measure
  • Chalk
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Ruffle foot (optional)

Gathered Ruffle

  • Measure the length of the dress. If you want to add vertical ruffles all the way from shoulder to hem, measure the entire length of the dress. Another way to add vertical ruffles to a dress is to add them around the collar area and end them at the edge of the bodice.

  • Mark with the chalk where you want the ruffle to begin and end. A V-neck dress works well when you surround it with ruffles that cascade below the V-collar, while a shirtwaist dress has ruffles in rows from shoulder to waist.

  • Double your measurements and use these new figures for the ruffle fabric. Cut three 3-inch strips of fabric and three 2-inch strips of fabric. Hem each strip on both sides. Use a zigzag stitch to hold down the hems and finish the edges smoothly.

  • Place the smaller strip in the center of the larger strip of fabric. With your sewing machine’s straight stitch set to its longest setting, sew a gather stitch down the center of the two strips, leaving enough thread at either end to pull in order to gather the ruffle.

  • Space each ruffle about one inch apart. Open the shoulder seams to the width of the ruffles, and pin the tops in place on either side of the neckline. Sew the ruffles and shoulder seams together. At the bottom of the V-neck of the dress, add the third ruffle.

  • Pin each shoulder ruffle in place down the bodice of the dress and below the V-neck. Trim the V-neck ruffle so that it is the same length as the other two ruffles, so that they skim the bodice and end at the waist. You can use the ruffle foot of the sewing machine to gather the ruffles evenly onto the dress.

  • Sew the ruffles onto the dress down the center seams. This way, you’ll have six distinct ruffles cascading down the front of your dress.

Cascade Ruffle

  • Measure the dress and determine the length you want for the ruffle. Using your measuring tape, pin one end into the center of the fabric. Hold the measuring tape straight with the chalk in hand, measure the diameter the length of your ruffle and draw a circle. Repeat and draw another circle two inches shorter inside the first circle.

  • Cut out this ring and then cut along the circle so that it resembles the letter "C." Sew two rows of gather stitches along the inner edge and hem the outside edge with a zigzag stitch.

  • Pull the circle into a ruffle and sew it onto the dress at the shoulder seam and along the neckline and bodice. Use as many of these ruffles as you like to complete the look of the dress.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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