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June 2016

Hello <<First Name>> 

I skipped an issue of my newsletter so it feels like I haven't written to you for ages.  To be honest, I'm struggling to find my rhythm lately.  Did you miss your monthly dose of sewing fun?

Well I'm back on deck with another punny-headlined email :D  I love coming up with fun titles for these emails so I hope you enjoy them too.  A little giggle in your Inbox.  Let me know if you've got any great sewing puns by the way - they might just inspire me for the next issue.

So this issue I thought we could talk all about ruffles and frills.  Gathering fabric is a great skill to learn and it's an excellent way of hiding or displaying all sort of things (I'm thinking chair covers, pillow cases, flutter sleeves, gathered skirts and sweet nappy-covered bums).  As always, if you'd like to read previous issues, you can access my archives here.

So, back to ruffles.  As with most things sewing, there are many different techniques to achieve the same outcome.  There's the manual way using some basting stitches and your fingers, a special ruffler presser foot or the 'Cheats' method.  Scroll down to see more on all of these (including a video tutorial thanks to Michelle at The Toffee Tree) as well as some inspiring ruffled projects.

Feel free to email me with any burning sewing questions.  I'm only too happy to help you get unstuck as you sew.  Lastly, I'm inviting you to join our HFL Helpdesk group on Facebook to meet other sewing nuts and chat all things sewing and fabric related.

Until next time,
Happy Sewing, ♥ Sarah x

How to Gather or Ruffle Fabric

** If I was a proper blogger/tutorial maker I really should have sewn my basting stitches in a darker colour so you could see them more clearly.  But this was one of my regular frilly aprons I was making so I just took photos as I went along.  I'm lazy like that :D 
  1. Cut, hem or otherwise neaten the seam edges of your ruffle piece .  This is much easier to do while your fabric is flat, not frilly
  2. Put your machine on the longest straight stitch it will produce - mine is 5mm but some have 6.  This is called a 'basting stitch'.
  3. Pull out a 3" tail before you start sewing.
  4. Stitch along the top of your ruffle (or centre if you're so decadent!) but DO NOT backstitch at the ends.  I sew further down into the fabric than my finished seam allowance (so I'll baste at 20mm if I'm sewing 12mm / 1/4" to secure it as per Step 8)
  5. Sew a second line a few mm below the first.  Make sure you don't cross over the first line of stitching otherwise it won't work.
  6. Separate out the top and bobbin threads. A pin helps here.
  7. Gently pull either the top two or bottom two threads.  The fabric will pucker and ruffle as you pull.  Go gently, easing the ruffles along the length of the fabric as you go.  You might like to mark half and pull the thread tails on either end - you don't want to snap the threads.
  8. Space the ruffles evenly, pin well, and stitch down using a normal straight stitch.  Start from the bottom-most layer and work your way up if you're sewing more than one frill to your project
  9. Remove your basting stitches.  You can run your finger nail over the remaining holes to close them or just leave them and they'll come out in the first wash.
  10. And that's it.  Frilled fabric attached to a project.  Easy huh?!
I've used a frilly apron project here to illustrate these steps.  I know the ruffles are not very full as I wanted just one 6.5" cut across the width of the fabric to fit across the width of my apron blank.  Ideally I'd like to use more fabric for my frill but that would involve a french seam and a second cut of fabric and they are full enough to still be fun as they are.  You just have to flounce around while wearing one of these aprons! #trustmeonthat :D 
If you'd like to see that above tutorial in moving pictures, the gorgeous Michelle of The Toffee Tree has filmed an excellent video that we can all benefit from.  She shows you two methods - the one I've shown above using basting stitches and the the 'Cheats' method.  You'll have to watch it to see her super quick ruffly trickys.
You can see the video and also fabulously frilly images of her work on her blog. 

Using a Ruffle Presser Foot

Your sewing machine should have come with a selection of presser feet.  You'll have a standard one for everyday sewing, maybe a zipper foot, maybe an overcast foot or, if you're really lucky, a buttonhole foot.  Specialist presser feet are not essential but they do make some tasks sooooo much easier. 

This is a specialist ruffler foot.  The idea is that the foot (more a contraption) will pleat or ruffle your fabric and sew it down onto your backing in one pass.  Amazing right?!

It is something you'll need to buy as a separate accessory (priced between $15 - $50).  This tutorial by Sew Much Easier has a great explanation (and nice clear photos) on how to get the right one for your 'shank' and model of machine and how to fit it correctly when it arrives -

It has some knobs to adjust things and there's a right way to hold your tongue as you thread the fabric through to start but once you get the hang of things - you'll be unstoppable and ruffle everything in sight!

The first adjustment is that metal flap on the top with the four holes - one hole has a star and the rest are numbers.  This controls how many stitches you'll do before the arm swings in to push the fabric under your needle and make a pleat (aka how ruffled your piece of fabric will be). 
Star Regular straight stitch – No Pleating
12 A pleat every 12 stitches – least amount of Ruffling
6 A pleat every 6 stitches – medium amount of Ruffling
1 A pleat every 1 stitch – Maximum amount of Ruffling

The orange/black knob on the side controls how deep the pleat/ruffle will be.  When you tighten the knob you get really small, tight pleats. When you loosen the knob your pleats are further apart. The stitch length setting on your sewing machine will also vary these settings.

It's best to practice on some scrap fabric first.  I've found it works better with a single layer that's not too thick but have a play and see what works best for you.

This is a great video showing you the basics of how it works.  I'm loving her Canadian accent :)

The only thing I don't like about them is that I can't make a particular length of fabric ruffle to fit a certain area of backing.  I'm sure I'd get better at the calculations over time but I'd have to cut and prepare (hem or overlock the edges) of more ruffle than I actually need to make sure I have enough.

Other Things I'm Loving

This article about the history of Liberty of London (very swanky fabric)

This petition asking our federal Government why GST is applied to feminine hygiene products but not condoms, sunscreen and nicotine patches.  Why is one category of products more luxury or less of a necessity than the others?

I'm on a custard puff bender at the moment - love that thick creamy custard.  This is the best recipe I've found through some extensive testing ;) 

This round up of 15 super cute pin cushions to make -

And lastly, I realise this newsletter has a wide reaching audience now but for those local to me in the Wheatbelt, Quairading are holding a Women In Ag day on Thursday 30 June.  There is an excellent line up of quality speakers, a long table lunch and wine tasting.  There is also creche for those of you with  small children so there's no excuses to put a carload together and come and join us in the Town Hall.  Contact the Qdg CRC on ph. 9645 0096 for tickets.
I was on a mission to find some new everyday eye shadows last week.  I've stumbled across these awesome little packs by Revlon called Photoready pallets.  They pre-sort the shades and give you a great little 'cheat sheet' on the back of what to put where - lid, crease, sparkle for the top.  I've felt so classy and put together (clearly it doesn't take much!) on the few days I've worn makeup since.  Bound to be available in a chemist near you!  *not sponsored, just thought I'd share for fellow frumps :)

Gather Some Pin-spiration

See Kate Sew has 7 ways for you to make a ruffle.... yup, there's more!
This free pattern for a ruffled bum nappy cover is adorable.
Love this ruffled rainbow dress!

She's put them on a wreath but these ruffled flowers would look great on all sorts of projects.
Want a ruffle that sits nicely without bulk (pictured on this shower curtain).  This is the tutorial for you!
Love this round-up from How About Orange on other ruffled projects, including knit fabric for t-shirts.
About Sarah

Hi!  I'm excited that you've subscribed to my newsletter and even more that you've made it all the way to the bottom.  

It's my goal to teach you how to sew, no matter where you live. To inspire others to drag out their sewing machines and make it come to life.  I want you to share that tingly feeling of pride in saying "thank you I made it myself". 

I live on a wheat and sheep farm in the Western Australian Wheatbelt region.  When I finally pull myself out from behind my sewing machine, you’ll find me tending a sadly neglected garden with a G&T in hand while the kids bounce on the trampoline. I may also be found occasionally in the sheep yards helping my farmer husband.
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