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How to Make Ruffled Curtains

Updated on August 26, 2012
Lace curtain
Lace curtain | Source

Ruffling Draperies and Curtains

Just as ruffles could soften the stiffness of clothing, they can soften the shapes of curtains—putting a touch of romance simultaneously.

Ruffles can be fun, but making them can be time-consuming. You may get them ready-made at a cost no more expensive than the cost of sewing your own.

If you would like to design your own ruffled treatment, be sure to select a fabric that easily gathers. Stir away from dotted Swiss since those charming little dots tend to catch the gathering thread.

Would It Be Single or double?

A ruffle is just a long strip of fabric gathered to produce frill along one or both sides. Single-edged ruffles, those gathered along one edge, frill on only one side. You may attach them inconspicuously to a curtain panel by using a French seam.

Double-edged ruffles are occasionally gathered down the center of the strip, making two frills of equal depth. Or, if you choose, you could run the gathering lines off-center, making one ruffle and a narrower heading. This is the type of ruffle to use on the top of a rod-pocket curtain; the ruffle's heading should be equal in width like the rod pocket.

Measuring for ruffled curtains

You should decide which edges of the curtain panels you wish to trim before measuring for yardage. Typically, ruffles would trim the lower hems and leading edges, and at times, the headings as well. Making a diagram in your notebook would help you at this point, showing the ruffled edges.

Next, you should decide on a visible width for your ruffle and note its measurement on your diagram. In the case of a double ruffle, it is not that confusing to consider the width of the wider or outer frill as the ruffle's visible width.

First calculation

Your first calculation determines how much yardage you'll require to make the curtains themselves. All you have to do is adjust the finished length and width measurements for the treatment to consider the portions that would be occupied by ruffles.

If you'll have ruffles on the lower hem, deduct the visible ruffle width from the finished length. Add 1 inch to this figure for a seam allowance for attaching single-edged ruffles or 1/2 inch for attaching double-edged ruffles.

Note down the result as an adjusted finished length figure in your notebook. Ruffles along the heading will not affect your calculations for the panels themselves, as these ruffles normally hang down over the panel, instead of adding height.

If you would have ruffles along the leading edges, take out twice their visible width from the finished width of the treatment. Add 2 inches for seam allowances to this figure for adding single-edged ruffles, or just 1 inch for seam allowances if attaching double-edged ruffles. Once more, record the result as your adjusted finished width.

With the adjusted figures from your notebook, you can now calculate total yardage for the panels alone, beginning with "Total width."

Second calculation

To determine how much additional yardage will be needed for ruffles, follow the steps below. Firstly, you must calculate the total width and the total length of the ruffle itself.

1. The overall width of a single ruffle is simply its

visible width measurement plus 1 inch for hem and

seam allowance.

2. Divide the width of the fabric you plan to use by the total width of the ruffle. Dismiss any fraction in the result. This whole number stands for the number of strips you can cut from one width of fabric.

3. To determine the overall length of either type of ruffle, you use the finished width and length measurements for the total treatment (do not confuse with the adjusted figures for panels-minus-ruffles). Calculate for the length of ruffles along the lower hem and/or heading using the finished width measurement; take into account the length of those along the leading edges with the finished length measurement. Add up these figures as needed to account for each ruffled edge in the treatment.

4. For fullness, multiply the result from step 3 by 2 1/2 (for medium-weight fabric) or 3 (for soft or sheer fabric). This result would be the total length of the ruffles for the entire treatment.

5. To check how much yardage you would need for ruffles, divide the total length of the ruffles by the result you got on step 2. Convert the figure from inches to yards.

Final calculation

Now that you have the overall yardage figures for both curtain panels and ruffled trim, it is just a matter of adding them both to determine how much fabric to purchase. Add an extra half yard as a allowance for cutting out, seaming, or gathering the ruffle strips.

Other articles on this topic:

How to Make Your Own Curtain

Window Styles and Window Treatments

How to Make Curtains, Draperies, and Window Shades


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