Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Make Ruched Sleeves

It is the attention to details and embellishments that make self-sewn garments look like ready to wear clothing.  I decided to add some ruching to the sleeves of my wrap dress and today I will show you how I did it.  This works best when applied to knit fabric that has some stretch and is lightweight.  You can also add it to a plain sleeve for some pzazz.

Turn the sleeve wrong side facing out.

  Starting 1" below the top center of the sleeve cap (meets up with the shoulder seam) draw a line perpendicular to the edge of the sleeve.  Hopefully you can see my faint white chalk line.

 Now, baste 1/8" away from the line on both sides with the longest stitch length.  Make sure to leave the thread tails long, about 4".  Wrap all of the thread tails on the sleeve edge into a knot.  On the right side of the fabric, knot the two tails near the top of the sleeve cap together.

 Back on the wrong side of the fabric, hold the remaining two tails (near the top of the sleeve cap) and gather the fabric toward the sleeve edge.  When the gathers look how you like them, knot the two thread tails.

 Taking a piece of clear elastic just longer than your gathers, pin it on top and take it to the sewing machine.

Using a stretch needle, stitch down the center of the elastic, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your gathers.

It should look like this once you're done.  I clipped the bottom edge into a 'V' so it wouldn't show from the other side.

Remove your basting stitches.  Do the same for the other sleeve, making sure that the ruching is even on both sides.  This process is quick and simple (it would have taken me less than 30 minutes had I not been taking pictures through out).


To win a cute retro apron, check out my giveaway on the previous post.  (I removed the annoying code verification.) I will choose the winner at the end of the week!


  1. What a difference the ruched sleeves make to the top. It looks fabulous!!! I would love you to share your easy to follow tutorial at our ongoing linky that's just for sewing tips and techniques..

  2. This is a great tutorial, and a lot simpler than I'd have thought...very achievable for me as a novice sewer!

  3. What pattern did you use for the dress? I think it wold make a good nursing dress for me.

  4. Serinda - this IS a great pattern for a nursing dress. It's Vogue 8379. My review and more pictures of this dress will go live on my blog tomorrow morning:

  5. I've featured your ruched sleeves tutorial today...

  6. Who knew ruching was so easy?! Thanks for the great tutorial, and thanks for sharing @'Sew Cute Tuesday!

    I'll be featuring you tomorrow, so be sure to stop by and grab a 'featured' button!

  7. A friend gave me a wonderful thin knit sleeveless tunic. I am too old to wear sleeveless blouses and I feel self-conscious. And the tunic is too long. I plan to cut off some of the bottom of the tunic and use it for sleeves. I think this idea is wonderful. Thank you.


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