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Making Dust Ruffles

Updated on June 12, 2013

Your best quilt will look even more spectacular on your bed if you make a dust ruffle to go with it. Besides accenting a quilt, which is often made to hang about 10" over the side of the bed, this addition to your bed's wardrobe will fill in the gap between the edge of the quilt and the floor. The dust ruffle can be moderately full or quite ruffly, depending on your taste and decor, and it takes only an afternoon to complete.

Measuring and cutting

The first thing you must do is a little arithmetic. Gather together a pencil, paper, tape measure, and a calculator (if you have one), go into the bedroom and begin to measure. Remember that a dust ruffle goes under the mattress. Don't include the mattress in your measurements.

Length: Measure around the sides and foot of the foundation or box springs. To this total length, add 10" for two returns at the head of the bed. (These returns will help keep the dust ruffle in place through countless bed makings and nights of tossing and turning.) Write down your total measurement, which we will call A. Even though it's important that you measure your own bed, here are some examples for standard-size beds.

Twin Bed

5" (return)

75" (bed length)

39" (bed width)

75" (bed length)

5" (return)

199" (A)

Double Bed

5" (return)

75" (bed length)

54" (bed width)

75" (bed length)

5" (return)

214" (A)

Queen Bed

5" (return)

80" (bed length)

60" (bed width)

80" (bed length)

5" (return)

230" (A)

The ruffle itself can be anywhere from two to three times this length, with two and one half times being just about right for a full appearance. Simply multiply A by 2 1/2 (or 2 or 3) to find the required dust-ruffle length in inches; then divide by 36 for the total number of yards. For instance, if we were making a dust ruffle for a standard size double bed, we would need 214" x 2 1/2 = 535" divided by 36" = about 14 7/8 yards of fabric to be gathered into a ruffle.

Width: The width of the ruffle piece depends on the distance from the top of the foundation or bed springs (not the mattress) to the floor. Measure that distance, and then add 4" for a hem at the bottom and W' for a seam allowance, the selvedge, at the top. We'll call that measurement B.

If B is 21" or less (21" is half the width of standard 44" fabric minus shrinkage), then you will be able to get two yards of ruffle for every yard of fabric. Thus, we would need about 7 1/2 yards of fabric for our 14 7/8 yards of ruffle.

If your bed is unusually high (with a B measurement of more than 21"), you'll need to buy enough fabric to cut only one ruffle from the width (14 7/8 yards in the case of this example).

Preparing the fabric

Ruffle Fabric: Wash and dry the fabric to shrink it. If using a dryer, check frequently to be sure the fabric is not twisting into a tight, wrinkled rope. Iron it flat.

Center Fabric: You'll need a large piece of fabric to fit between the mattress and the foundation to which the ruffle is sewn; a fitted sheet works perfectly for this.

Assembling the dust ruffle and center fabric

To make the ruffle, cut or tear the fabric lengthwise to make two pieces that are as wide as the B measurement. Seam the pieces together along one short edge by making a French seam as follows: With wrong sides together, sew in a 1/4" seam and press to one side. With right sides together, sew in a 3/8" seam that encloses the previous 1/4" seam allowances inside. Press seam allowances to one side.

Hem the short ends by folding over 1/4" and 1/4" again before sewing by hand or machine. Hem the long raw edge that will be the bottom by folding over a scant 2" and 2" again, pressing and pinning, and sewing by machine.

The top edge of the ruffle, the selvedge, will be gathered. To help space the gathers evenly around the bed, fold the ruffle in half crosswise, and then in half again, and press lightly to mark four equal divisions. Set your sewing-machine stitch length at 4 to 6 stitches per inch or use your machine's gathering/basting stitch. Stitch 1/4" from this top edge through the single layer of fabric from one end to the first crease line. (Do not backstitch.) Stop and cut threads, leaving 6" tails at both ends. Begin stitching at the first crease and stop at the next crease, again leaving tails.

Continue until all four sections are stitched; then stitch each section again 1/2" from the edge.

Place the fitted sheet on the bed foundation (or springs). Now you'll need to use measurement A again. Divide that number of inches by 4 (e. g. 214" divided by 4 = 53 1/2"). On the sheet, lightly mark the 5" returns at the head of the bed.

Beginning from one dot, measure and mark off (with pins) the 1/4 A distance to divide the edges of the bed in four equal sections. Now, you'll want to sit on the floor facing the bed while pinning the ruffle in place. Placing the wrong side of the ruffle next to the sheet, pin the ends of the ruffle and the three crease marks to match the dots and pins on the sheet. Pin the ruffle as high on the side of the foundation as you can. Gently pull up the gathers in each section, and pin. Be careful not to pin through the foundation. Allow a little extra fullness at each comer.

Take the sheet (with pinned dust ruffle) off the foundation. Machine stitch through ruffle and sheet 1/2" from the edge of the ruffle. Stitch again 1/2" from the edge of the ruffle for extra strength. Remove the pins and gathering threads. Your fitted dust ruffle is now finished and ready to be used and admired.

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    • CassandraCae profile image

      Cassandra Kuthy 4 years ago from Ohio

      My husband makes fun of me cause I tell him my bed is has no dust ruffle at the moment. I think I am gonna use your directions and make one :)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      This is a good idea. When I get kids bedding and it doesn't come with a dust ruffle it's hard to find something that matches.