My best friend's birthday has come and gone and I've only just now finished her present. However, it's pretty fabulous, especially if you're into volume. Ruffles aren't something I'd attempted before, but I really like the look of a lot of Kate Towers' dresses. I think they're all swell, but the pleated ruffles she has here are especially lovely:
I already had a yard and a half of lovely dusty blue linen I wanted to use for the ruffles, but it had a few issues as it's stiff and frays easily. I knew I didn't want it to bulk up if I put the hem on the inside (thereby having two layers), and definitely didn't want to have the linen fray away, so I just did everything I could think of to the edges.
So, first step; forcing the edges into submission:
I sewed a scalloped edge down the sides of the strips I was going to make into ruffles, to help bind the edge. I then cut away the excess, leaving a very small amount of fabric. Next, I used Fray-Check, a stabilizer, to make sure the edges didn't get away from me. After this, I left the stabilizer to dry.
Instead of buying a pleating board, I pinned these in place by hand. I didn't want them to be as formal, so the variances in the widths worked well. I then sewed down the center of each, removing the pins as I went, and taking care to let the fabric move as I went along. The fabric shrunk up a lot from being folded.
Once they were finished, the ruffles were easy to add as embellishment. I did the shoulder separately, and added the rest once the dress base was finished. I just pinned them on and until I liked them and they got good reviews from the patient friend posing as model.
After lining the dress and basting the ruffles to it, sewing them had to be done with the grain of the folds, slowly. Going against the grain made a big mess I had to take out again, but it eventually worked out.
Success! It's swell on my lady, and I can't wait to see pictures of what it looks like once someone's actually ironed it ;) .