DIY Hack Your Pattern Sewing Tutorial

Add a Ruffle to a Wrap Dress

Hi y’all! It’s been a while since I shared a pattern hack with ya, so that’s what I’m here with today. The Marieke Wrap Dress* pattern recently released at Ellie and Mac, and I immediately envisioned adding a ruffle to the short sleeve version. I will preface this by saying, this is actually one hack I’m not really in love with, but many in the Ellie and Mac sewing group on Facebook liked it a lot and asked that I would share the process….so here we are. I will share later what changes I think I can make to love this dress, and who knows…maybe another blog post in the future?

To get started, I constructed the dress following the pattern instructions, minus the hem and strap attachment. I then opened the dress and measured the circumference of the entire hemline (I only measured half the bodice and multiplied x2). Because I was using pointelle, which is pretty lightweight, I opted for x1.75 for fullness. Circumference was 59″ x 2″ =118″. 118″ x 1.75 for fullness = 206.5″. This was my total length of fabric needed to make the ruffle.

The next step was dependent upon my initial vision and the width of my fabric, which was only 44″ wide on the piece I had leftover. To determine the number of ruffles to cut, I had to take the total amount of ruffles needed (206.5″) and divide it by the width of fabric I had (44″). 206.5/44″ = This equalled 4.7, so I just rounded up to 5 pieces. The difference in gathers will be negligible once it’s all spread throughout the hem. Though I knew I wanted my ruffles on the narrow side, I wasn’t quite sure exactly how wide I wanted them so I cut my strips at 3″ wide. I planned to finish with a rolled/lettuce hem later and the excess could be trimmed off. Do keep in mind that there is a 1/2″ hem allowance included. You may wish to trim that from your bodice. You can also just keep it in mind for your ruffle width. Ultimately, the ruffle itself will add width to the opening and make it less wide, so it’s worth considering.

After all of the ruffles were cut, I sewed them each right sides together until they formed a loop. I then divided that loop into four equal parts (you can do as many sections as you want to make it easier), as well as the hemline of the dress. Before attaching the ruffles, I marked the strap attachment point. I rounded this part off while sewing (similar to the red line), so I needed some way to see where to attach the strap later since it wouldn’t be visible or noticeable anymore.

Before sewing gathering stitches on my ruffles, I made sure they were marked on the side that attaches to the dress with a marker AND a pin, and the free edge was also marked. I find that sometimes with gathered pieces, your marks get out of place. It is really difficult to evenly distribute when it’s already gathered up. I then sewed two rows of basting stitches between each section (so I had 8 rows of stitches in total). Again, you can do however many rows you’d like, and also however many sections you’d like. At a minimum, I recommend four because it’s less hassle if a thread snaps and you have to go back and sew one section as opposed to the whole thing!

Once those were sewn, I gently worked all my gathers pretty tightly by pulling on the bobbin threads with one hand and adjusting with the other. I like to do this and release them later, as needed. Some people prefer to gather right on the spot. Do it your way 😉

With right sides together, I matched up my points from the ruffle to the dress and begin loosening the gathers until each section fit together. This took me almost an hour to get done neatly and to my liking, but I find the gathering process soothing, so I don’t mind it. I then basted them in place and checked to make sure everything looked good. It did, so I went ahead and serged to secure them. I then pressed the dress (not the ruffles) and topstitched the seam allowance of the ruffles to the dress.

After trying it on, I realized that the gathers were too high at the neck and bust area and just flopped over instead of standing, so when doing the lettuce hem on my serger, I trimmed the ruffles down to a little over 1″. I was pleased with the final length. If you are not using a serger to finish the edge, carefully trim down to your desired height with a sharp pair of fabric shears for a neat edge.

The only other point was to hem the sleeves and attach the straps. For the straps, I positioned them from where I had marked earlier and attached them as in the tutorial. I added additional stitching on the edge of the ruffle to keep it in place. And it was done!

Soooo….what don’t I like about it? Honestly, it’s cute, it is, but I would have preferred to split the ruffles in two and from the strap point, over the neck to strap point, I would have placed the gathers to where they rested on the dress instead of sticking out. From the strap down the bottom hem, up to the other strap, I would have left them as is. Another suggestion was to graduate the length of the ruffles so that they were wider on the skirt portion than bodice, but I’m not sure I’m sold on that one. Ultimately, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I may just wear it as is. I do have enough fabric leftover if I want to trim the current ruffle off and redo, and I can always wear a cami underneath if I feel that it becomes too wide from trimming it down. I guess time will tell the fate of this dress!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that it helps you add a ruffle to your hem! It’s also a little reminder that we don’t all like the same things and that’s okay. Need clarity, have more questions or suggestions, just drop me a comment! Until next time 🙂

Any links in this post containing asterisks are affiliate links. The product costs nothing more to you, but I do make a tiny commission for your purchase. I appreciate your help in keeping me sewing and sharing ❤️

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