Start with a boyfriend sweater. To determine where you want to cut your sweater, try on other sweaters you own and decide how long you would like the finished sweater to be. Decide on the heighth of your ruffle. My sweater’s finished length is 23 inches and my ruffle is 2 inches high. If I had it to do over, I might try a 3 inch high finished ruffle. Allow a 1/2 inch seam allowance to attach the ruffle. To figure out where to mark your cutting line:
- Finished length of sweater – heighth of ruffle + 1/2 inch seam allowance = placement of cutting line from center back neck of sweater.
For my sweater: 23 inches – 2 inches + 1/2 inch = 21 1/2 inches. However, it is easier to measure up from the bottom of the sweater.
Next cut your ruffle: If you want a 2 inch ruffle as I did, you need 3 inch strips to make the ruffle: 2 inches for the ruffle + 1/2 inch seam allowance + 1/2 inch hem allowance; a 3 inch high ruffle is made from 4 inch strips. You will need 2x the circumference of the sweater bottom to make your ruffle, so if you cut 6 inches off the bottom of your sweater, the deepest ruffle you can make is 2 inches high. (you may want a slightly less full ruffle than 2x. I eliminated one short strip to make my ruffle a little less full.) Here are my strips all cut and ready to go. After cutting a strip, I cut off the short seam allowances. I had to do this because my sweater had side vents. If your sweater is seamed all the way down the side, you can cut just two strips. Cut any finished edges off the short edges except for two – you want to save a finished edge for the right front and left front but don’t want any hem pieces in the middle of the ruffle. Seam the short ends of your strips together to make one long strip. If you have multiple pieces like I do, make sure that your strip starts and ends with a piece that is finished on the short end. In orther words, the long strips in the picture above are from the back of my sweater and their short ends are unfinished. The short pieces are from the fronts of the sweater and they have one finished short edge. I started and ended with a short piece so my front edges are finished.
Finger press your seams open. Zig Zag the edges of your sweater body and both long edges of your ruffle to finish the raw edges. I found it a tremendous help to use my walking foot to zig zag my sweater. I just needed to narrow the zig zag. Without the walking foot, the zig zaging was giving me a lettuce edge.
Notice how wavy this edge is; this was before I tried the walking foot.
Fold up the 1/2 inch hem allowance on one long edge and straight stitch in place again using a walking foot. Here you can see the finished hem (on the left) and see how much nicer my zig zag edge is when I used the walking foot (on the right).
On the other long edge, mark the center of your ruffle. Then using a long stitch length, stitch 2 rows of gathering threads. Pull up your gathering threads and pin to your sweater, right sides together so your ruffle fits your sweater, matching the center of your ruffle to the center back of your sweater.
I attached the ruffle using my regular stitch foot. Lightly press your ruffle seam allowance toward your sweater. Hand stitch the seam allowance in place at the center front openings to give a finished look if sweater is worn open. Here is a close-up of the finished ruffle.
That’s it! Enjoy your new sweater!