Ruching is an easy sewing technique that adds fun texture and character. Anne from Mama Says Sew is kindly sharing her ruching tutorial here on Sew in Love. Thanks Anne! (by Rin)
You will need:
- 1 x 16” square (40.5cms) for the large top square
- 1 x 11” square (28cms) for the smaller backing square
- Sewing thread the same colour as the larger top square
Ruching works particularly well on plain, lightweight fabrics which are pale in tone and therefore light reflective. These produce the best textural effects. Lightweight calico (muslin), cottons and silk are suitable.
Step 1. Sew the grid on the large square
It is not necessary to draw a grid onto the large square as the stitched rows do not have to be spaced too regularly. This can be done by hand of course but is easier to do by machine.
Option A: Sewing by hand
If sewing by hand start with a substantial knot, leaving a short end trailing and sew a straight line of running stitches, ¼” (6mm) long, with a slightly smaller gap, across the large square, about 1” (2.5cms) below the top raw edge.
Leave a length of thread trailing at the end of the row. Repeat these rows, about ¾” (2cms) apart to cover the square, with the last row about 1” (2.5cms) up from the bottom raw edge. The stitches do not have to line up under each other as they do with ‘proper’ smocking and again YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING TOO ACCURATE. Not often you hear that from a patchworker!
Turn the square through 90 degrees and repeat the above process so that you have a grid of stitches all over the square. The fixing knots will be on two adjacent sides with the trailing threads on the opposite sides. These will be pulled to gather the large square (see Diagram 1).
Option B: Sewing by machine
If sewing by machine use a long, straight stitch and stitch straight rows across the square about ¾” (2cms) apart with the first row about 1” (2.5cms) below the top raw edge and the last row about 1” (2.5cms) up from the bottom raw edge.
Leave long threads trailing at both ends of the rows. Turn the square through 90 degrees and repeat the process in the opposite direction so that you now have a grid of stitches all over the square.
Now a slightly laborious bit, boring but necessary! Knot off the trailing ends on two adjacent sides (see Diagram 1).
Step 2. Gathering the large square
Pin the corners of the large square to the smaller square. Now, row by row, pull gently on one of the trailing threads from the side opposite the knotted threads to gather the fabric of the top square. If the thread catches, stop pulling and try to gather that row from the knotted side instead.
Repeat for all the rows on one side and then do the same in the other direction. Pull up slightly more than necessary and then ease out little by little, trying to keep the gathers about 1” (2.5cms) away from the edge all round (see Diagram 2).
The top square will eventually fit the smaller, bottom square. Pin round the sides taking care to ‘organise’ the gathered edge a little so that the raw edges of the two squares are aligned (see Diagram 3).
Machine or hand stitch all around the square about 3/8” (9mm) from the edge; this will secure the top square in place.
Step 3 – Finishing
Trim the square to 10 ½” (26.5cms), cutting a little from each edge in turn. Take care not to cut the stitches all around the edge or the top square will separate from the bottom square (see Diagram 4).
At this stage you will find that the top square has a tendency to lift away from the bottom square so it is a good idea to secure the layers together at random intervals. You could use little buttons, beads, French Knots or plain stab stitches.
Little pearly beads look great as they glisten in the ruched folds. You now have a 10 ½” (26.5cms) square with which you could make a little cushion or you could add a border to make a larger cushion if required.
About Mama Says Sew
Mama Says Sew started as a result of a chance meeting; I call it serendipity! I teach Patchwork and Quilting classes but during the Summer I sell ice cream from my home to earn money when I’m not teaching. It’s very boring so at the same time I make cushions etc to sell. One day a gentleman and his wife bought ice cream and asked me about my quilts and cushions and whether I could earn a living from making them. Frankly I can’t (the curse for a lot of craft workers) and he said “You do realise that the money is in selling information don’t you?” He told me about an American grandmother whose grandson had set up a website for her to sell her designs as ebooks and she had become very successful.
I thought about what he had said and after a couple of weeks decided to give it a go; what could I lose after all? I had all the notes for the techniques I teach and used these as a basis for creating the PDF patterns. A friend, Jane, also wrote up the instructions for some of her designs and a friend of my son designed the website. My goodness, it sounds so simple when put like that but it was a lot of hard work for all of us. I love the finished result and it’s really just the start because we will be adding new designs all the time.
There are patterns available for Fabric Manipulation techniques, cushions, quilts, things made from your favourite old jeans and I’ve recently added two Basic Patchwork patterns for people who have never tried it before and would like to learn. The patterns are all reasonably priced, with a couple of freebies too, and easy to download and print off at home.
I’m very inspired by Anne’s story and really wish her the very best with her new website selling PDF patterns. My favourites from her store include (left to right) Tumbling Blocks quilt pattern, the Twisted Tucks technique and of course, this Ruching Technique which makes a very chic cushion. It’s wonderful how the online sewing community support each other, so if you like this tutorial, please do visit Mama Says Sew. Thank you! (by Rin)