Embellishing your Handmade Bras (II): Ruffles

Hi guys! Today I bring you another post in the Embellishing series: this one is about adding ruffles to your bras and underwear (you can read the first part about echo stitching here!). Today I’ll show you how to draft and sew a ruffle to your bra, just like I did with my Ballerina Bra, and next time we’ll do a similar technique for adding flounces. You’ll be amazed at how this simple detail can completely change the look of a basic bra or a plain panty!

So, let’s dive in:

Are ruffles and flounces the same thing?

Sometimes, the terms “ruffle” and “flounce” are used as if they were the same thing, but their looks and their construction are different.

A ruffle is a gathered piece of fabric that you can add pretty much to any garment, and it’s drafted drawing a rectangle. A flounce isn’t necessarily gathered and it’s drafted using a circle, that’s why they’re sometimes called “circular ruffles”. You can find a very interesting article outlining the differences between ruffles and flounces here.

How to draft a ruffle

Usually, if you want to add a ruffle to, let’s say, the neckline of a bra, you need to measure the distance of the seam where you want to sew the ruffle, and then you can multiply that measurement depending on the fullness of the ruffle you want to create. I usually multiply the measurement by 2.5 or 3, because then you get a nice looking ruffle, but it depends on the fabric and on the look you’re going for. In some cases, you’ll need to multiply by 3.5, 4… It’s really up to you and the fabric you’re using (for thinner fabrics, you’ll need to multiply by higher numbers), but I don’t tend to go past 4.5 because the fabric will get all bunchy.

So, let’s say that you measure the neckline of your bra (that is, the top of the upper cup piece) and it’s about 10cm. Now, I’m going to multiply that amount by 2.5, so the length of my ruffle is going to be 25cm (plus the seam allowance). I’ve decided that the width of my ruffle is going to be 5 cm, plus I’m adding 1cm of seam allowance to the top edge (I’ll leave the bottom unfinished). That leaves us with a 6cm width, so I’ll draw a rectangle with these measurements.

How to sew a ruffle

Once that you’ve cut your rectangle on the chosen fabric, you need to sew some basting stitches within the seam allowance at the top of the rectangle, and then pull the threads to gather the fabric. You’ll need to gather this piece until it measures the same as the seam where you’re going to sew it: in our example, that’s 10cm.

Now, all you need to do is distribute the fullness evenly and… sew the ruffle to the bra! In the case of my bra, I constructed the whole cup first, and then basted the ruffle to the top of the cup before I finished the raw edge with fold over elastic. You can use the same technique with regular elastic, and apply ruffles to the bottom of the band, the straps or even add them to panties. Don’t you think they look adorable? 😉

Here are some examples that you can use as inspiration!

Vintage Style Bikini by Anthropologie
Bralette by Jenny Packham
Evelyn panties by Myla
Marchesa Garter brief by La Perla

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