Friday, February 18, 2011

Tutorial: Ruffle Collar Top

I made this top as a part of my Sewing Simply Series.

2011-02-14 005

It was inspired by a top from Target.


I took you through my knock-off process here. Want to make this top for yourself? Oh good! Let’s get started…

My fabric is a pink, tiny ribbed knit with a shimmer to it.

I started by using my go to pattern for sleeveless tops (I don’t actually follow the pattern, just use the pieces as a guide for sizing). It’s New Look (by Simplicity) #6895. I cut out my front and back pieces.

2011-02-12 001

Then I cut a bunch of 2” wide strips of fabric. It’s important that you cut the pieces so they’ll stretch the long way. Feel your knit and see which way it stretches best. Cut it the length of the good stretch. This is essential for getting the ruffle right.

2011-02-12 002

And then lettuce edged each strip down both sides. It took FOREVER. Lettuce edging is done by zig zag stitching along the raw edge of your knit and pulling/stretching it at the same time as you sew. It was long and tedious but SOOOO worth the work. If you need a little more clarification on how to do this, just google “tutorial lettuce ruffle” or “tutorial lettuce edge” and you’ll find some great instructions.

2011-02-12 003

I didn’t really feel like hemming or finishing off the sleeves or the neck line, so I went ahead and lettuce edged those as well. I really liked how it brought the look of the collar out throughout the shirt. I did this to the front and back pieces before sewing them together, I would suggest you hold off on this step. Because the stretch was going the length of the shirt, not the width, the hem didn’t ruffle up as much as the strips, but I like that.

2011-02-12 004

Sew the front and back together (right sides together) along the side seams and at the shoulders. And then (had I don’t it correctly the first time), ruffle edge the hem, arm holes and neckline. This way your seams from sewing the front to back will have a finished look to them.

The original pattern I used for the shirt is designed for some pleating or gathering, so it would have been too wide to just sew and wear as is. I also thought the top would look cute with some soft gathers under coming out from under the ruffles, so I did a shirring look (I just didn’t use elastic thread so there’s no stretch to it). I did this by setting my tension to the highest setting and the stitch length to the longest. I then just sewed back and forth, 1/4” apart, until I had about 2 inches worth of gathering. Make sure and back stitch at the beginning and end of each row or else it’ll all just slip out. Usually with just one row of this technique, the fabric would slip and slide along the thread and wouldn’t make pretty gathers. But by doing so many rows of it, it holds itself in place.

2011-02-12 0062011-02-12 008

Now it’s time to add the ruffles! I started at the middle of the back and pinned the first strip to the collar. Make sure that about half of the width of the strip sits above/beyond the collar, so only half of it covers the shirt. Then just stitch it to the shirt down the middle of the strip. (And make sure you return your tension and stitch length to their normal settings!)

2011-02-12 009

Lift the first strip and pin the next one under it, so the middle is just below where the first strip is attached to the shirt.

2011-02-12 010

Repeat so you then have three strips sewn down, which looks like 6 layers of ruffles. I thought the shirt still needed more ruffles on the front, but didn’t really want to add any more layers to the shoulders or back.

2011-02-12 011 - Copy

Plus I wanted to cover up more of my mock shirring.

2011-02-12 011

But you can see here how the shoulder straps didn’t really need any more ruffles.

2011-02-12 013

So I cut a short strip and just sewed it along the width of the very front. It still needed a little more, so I added one more strip just the width of the “shirring”.

And then I loved it. But one row of gathering stitches still showed, so I got out my handy seam ripper and ripped that row out. Perfect!

2011-02-14 006

Wear it with pride. It’s beautiful!

2011-02-14 009

And just so you know, my ruffles may have a little more stiffness to them than yours might… my knit is fairly polyester based (I’m guessing). But I still think there would be a BEAUTIFUL softness to a knit’s ruffles.

And one more because I love this picture…

2011-02-14 014

It makes me smile.

If you make this top, I’d LOVE to see it! Or if you get stuck along the way, feel free to email me: nolanandjill {at} gmail {dot} com. Or, if you don’t want to make it but still want it, you can buy it in my Etsy Shop. I’m running a sale, good now through March 4—everything is 15% off if you use the code SEWINGSIMPLY.

And while you’re enjoying all my links, be sure and check out THESE AWESOME PARTIES!


  1. So cute!! That's a very fun shirt!! :)

  2. So So cute, you did a fantastic job!!

  3. I think it looks super-cute! I think I'll have to try this one.. I love the look of ruffles at the neckline <3

  4. I'm a new follower and today I finally got to catch up on my reading - I'm so glad I did. I love everything you've got here, and this tutorial on this ruffle collar top is terrific. Thanks so much, I have a list of things to make and this is definitely going on the list! ~Lori

  5. I absolutely LOVE your ruffled shirt! It's so darn cute!

  6. I love this soo sew cute! Kellene


I appreciate comments so much! I'll do my best to reply to you here in the comments section, especially if there is a question so future readers can see the answer.