Once you have this whole, long strip of ruffled fabric, what are you going to do with it? If you decide to purchase a ruffler foot, you might want to check out the kind that creates the ruffle and attaches it all in one step. I've never used that kind, but sure hope to try one soon! So, if you are still operating (as I frequently do!) about 3 steps behind all of the technological advances of the minute, here are a couple of ways to finish off your ruffles and attach them to your garment, or whatever you happen to be making.
If I am working with a strip of ruffle that I have created using the "old-fashioned" technique of running a gathering stitch close to the edge of my fabric strip and then pulling up the threads to gather it up, I have found that it works quite well to start by stitching the ends of my fabric strip together to make one continuous circle of fabric / ruffle, BEFORE you fold the strip and run the row of gathering stitches all along the edge of your fabric strip. You will only do this IF you are going to be attaching your ruffle to a garment at the hemline. (IF you are going to be using your ruffles as surface embellishment, there is no need to make the circle of fabric)
Stitch the ends together and finish off the seam either by serging the raw edges or finish with a zig-zag stitch. Fold and press the strip of fabric and then proceed with the next step.
Run the long running stitch (stitch length of 5.0 on a scale of 0.0 - 5.0) all the way around the edge of the strip, leaving about 6' of thread at the beginning and the end of your stitching to pull up for the gathers.
Determine the middle front, middle back, and each side of both the garment hemline and the fabric strip and mark with pins. With right sides together, pin the strip to the garment at the middle front, middle back, and each side.
Pull the gathering stitches up evenly all the way around this seam line and pin to hold in place. It is fairly simple to adjust your gathers to make the ruffle fit precisely into the space you have on the garment hemline. Pin all around, adjusting the gathers so that there are no puckers or bunches or gathers all in one place, making it as smooth as possible all the way around.
Stitch all the way around, connecting the ruffle strip to the garment hemline.
If you are using the ruffled strip as surface embellishment, use the same technique without stitching the ends together to make a circle, and pin the ruffle in place, matking the mid-point on the ruffle and matching it to the mid-point on the garment where you want to place it. Match up both ends of the ruffle to the ends of your placement, adjust the ruffle gathers, and stitch in place. Simply turn under the ends of the ruffle and stitch in place to create a finished edge on both ends, or if you are using a raw-edge ruffle, then just leave the ends as raw edges, as well. It's OK to experiment and try new and different techniques . . . . you might discover something wonderful!
The finishing technique that I use for attaching ruffles that I have created with the ruffler foot is a bit different, because the ruffler foot will not create a ruffle that is exactly the length that you need it to be . . . . usually! So there's a trade-off. You get wonderfully consistent gathers on your ruffle made with the ruffler foot, but I had to figure out a different way to "complete" that circle of ruffle to go around the hemline of a skirt, dress, or pant legs. Of course, if you are using this ruffle for surface embellishment, just pin a length of your ruffled fabric strip in place and sew it on. Again, either finish the ends by turning under, pressing, and stitching a narrow hem on either end, or simply leave them raw-edge for a different look.
However, if you want to use your ruffle made with the ruffler foot on a hemline, here's a technique that I have found that works great: Use the procedure for marking the mid-point on your ruffle and on your garment. Starting in the middle (mid-point of ruffle and CENTER FRONT of garment), pin the ruffle all the way around to the CENTER BACK on both sides of the garment.
Measure the length so that there will be an overlap of approximately 1” and cut off the excess. Open out one end, and press under as shown to make a finished edge. Insert the other end of the ruffle into the folded end, pin and top-stitch closed. Be sure that the edges are even and that you catch both the front and the back folded edges of the ruffle end when you stitch it closed.
You can now complete stitching the ruffle to the garment hemline. Stitch the ruffle to the garment a second time, completely around the circumference, and finish the seam between the ruffle and the garment hemline, either serged or with a zig-zag finish all the way around. Press this seam toward the garment, and top-stitch approximately 1/4" from the seamline on the outside of the garment, just above the ruffle.
If you are just learning how to do ruffles, this can be a bit tricky at first, trying to figure out exactly how to measure and match up the ruffle to the garment, and there are probably different or even easier ways to finish a ruffle that has been made with a ruffler foot . . . . . actually, I just thought of another way to finish it off, that I can share with you tomorrow . . . but I have found this to be really quite quick and easy after you have done it a few times.
I made lots of mistakes the first several times I was working with ruffles created with the ruffler foot, but you quickly discover how it will work best for you. I'm one who doesn't mind just giving it a good guess, stitching it on, and then learning what was right or wrong and ripping out the stitches and starting all over again if it's wrong. I know not everyone is comfortable with that, so I've tried to give fairly precise measurements if that is more comfortable for you. I also know that there are probably other ways to finish off a ruffle, that might even be easier, but I have always been pleased with the results using this technique, and for me having a beautiful, finished project is very important.
So, give it a try and let me know if you have any questions and please be sure to send me pictures of your finished masterpiece! Now I'm on to finishing up that eBook for making the "Mommy and Me" aprons so I can get it out to you all by tomorrow (well, that's the plan, anyway!) ~~ Chat soon, Nina