Threads Logo Threads Logo Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon
Inspiration

A Reason for Ruffles

I had never been the type to wear rows of ruffles, but I wore the style anyway
Threads #215, Fall 2021
Article Image

A few years ago, I retired from a long and busy teaching career. My husband and I relocated to Texas. I hadn’t had time to sew in ages and, in truth, little desire. I was content to spend my golden years in my favorite T-shirts. However, necessity caused me to rediscover sewing and create a new, more feminine, style for myself.

It happened after my husband and I were hit by a drunk driver. Fortunately, no one’s injuries were life-threatening, although mine would change my life in surprising ways. A complicated rib injury prevented me from wearing a bra. The thought of going braless sounded comfortable, but it was not a good look for this grandma. Whenever a neighbor came over, I would quickly grab a full apron and tie it around myself. I realized I couldn’t wear an apron out into the world, though. It was time to dust off the sewing machine and sew a solution.

For Plan A, I lined a few old T-shirts and attached pockets to the lining to hold bra pads. This was a great concept, but more times than I care to admit, I would reach for something in one direction and the T-shirt would go in another direction (with bra pads attached).

On to Plan B. Pockets on a shirt front seemed like a good solution, especially when lined, but after a few garments I realized I didn’t want an entire wardrobe of shirts with lined patch pockets. Also, when these pocketed shirts were made with plaid fabric, a lady could start to feel as if she resembled a lumberjack.

I turned to my BurdaStyle magazines for Plan C. Though I’d sewn for decades, the European patterns intimidated me. The instructions are complex and written without illustrations. For my first project, I chose a short-sleeved raglan pullover top design, with rows and rows of overlapping, unhemmed ruffles on the front and sleeves. The neckline was wide and easy to pull over the head. I bought a mint green woven and decided to give the design a try.

Because the pattern format—a few large pullout sheets in the center of the magazine, printed with overlapping, color-coded patterns—was new to me, it took me several hours to trace my pattern size and then cut out the top. The ruffles did not have pattern pieces, and I was on my own to figure out the spacing. But I did it. When the top was complete, it was modest, comfortable, and fit well. It wasn’t quite my style, as I had never been the type to wear rows of ruffles, but I decided to wear it anyway.

One day, I wore my new creation to the store. As I was shopping in the produce section, I encountered a sweet lady who complimented me on my top. Instead of a short, gracious thank you, I launched into the whole story of the drunk driver, my injured rib, and the bra ban that led to me sewing a top full of ruffles. Poor lady. She got more than she bargained for when giving me a compliment.

I wore the ruffled top again to one of the first events I attended in my new neighborhood, a monthly ladies’ birthday club lunch. What a surprise to find the lady from the store. She was one of my new neighbors, and we’ve been friends ever since.

I eventually learned to sew bras that I can wear comfortably under T-shirts. I also developed a new love for feminine clothes, and I sew tops that have gathers, flounces, lace, bows, and, yes, ruffles. I even sew tops made from semisheer fabrics with long billowy sleeves, perfect for a Texas summer where the sun is hot and the restaurant air conditioning is cold. Quite by accident, I found a softer, frillier, more feminine me and rediscovered an interest in sewing.

Cathy Pierce happily sews in LaRue, Texas.

Sign up for the Threads eletter

Get the latest including tips, techniques and special offers straight to your inbox.

Sign Up
×
Discuss

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Subscribe to Threads today

Save up to 42% and get a free gift

Subscribe

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

More From Threads

Discussion Forum

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All

Highlights

Shop the Store

View All
View More