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How to Alter for Ruching

barbsewandsew | Posted in Patterns on

Greetings ! After searching the archives for ruching (draping ?)help I’m ready to just go with the pattern, as is, and not attempt this design change but hopefully someone here can lead me in the right direction. The pattern is Simplicity 5094 and has an empire waist. My daughter would like a semi-formal with the left side ruched.I have tried gathering one edge of the uncut fabric and then tried pleating it and can’t quite get the feel of how it should look. Does that make any sense. Could someone give me an idea of what I should be doing. 

Excuse me for not introducing myself…Barbara from Texas, loyal Threads fan since issue 92, seamstress who is returning to sewing after 10 years, quilter, first time poster to the gathering etc.Thank you for your time !!BarbaraA 


  1. suesew | | #1

    Are you talking about "gathering"? I am working on a set of bridesmaid dresses right now that have gathered sheer on princess seam bodices and it is taking forever. If this is what you are doing you need to make a new pattern piece. Trace the front as is and then split it on the left side - many times to a point on the right or multiple points on the right side - I'm guessing just below and above the bustline - almost to the arm hole. This extra fabric then gets gathered up on the left side to match the original pattern. It would take some playing with scrap fabric but it can be done. I hope this makes sense. Welcome back to sewing, Sue

    1. barbsewandsew | | #2

      Thank you for the info...I'm off to try that now ! It sure sounds like that's what I need to do ! Barbara A

      1. FitnessNut | | #3

        May I suggest that you do a mock up in muslin or other inexpensive fabric (preferably with a similar hand to the final fashion fabric)? That way you can ensure that the result is what you expect, that the ruching is in the right location and the correct fullness, etc. You can deal with any fitting issues at the same time, too. Good luck with your project!

        1. barbsewandsew | | #4

          The 'original' muslin will need to be re-cut now with the pattern alteration and yes, the drape is a concern. Also I'm not sure whether to split the pattern at an angle/how far to split it etc...but I think it's all a matter of playing with it to see how it drapes. I'm excited to have these new ideas to play with !! Barbara A

          1. FitnessNut | | #5

            My pattern books illustrate ruching on one side seam of a garment and what they do is establish the outer extremeties of the ruching. Then the garment is divided crosswise in the direction you would like the gathering to drape....usually quite a few cuts across are made to divide the gathering evenly along the ruched seam....then spread the desired amount and blend the seamline. You can split the pattern at any angle or straight across, just remember that this is the direction the fabric will gather. Also, the finished pattern must lie flat, so you have to extend your cuts all the way to another seamline. Your pattern may look very different from how you imagine it.Gee, I wish I had a scanner. But I think you're on the right direction. Hope this helps.

          2. barbsewandsew | | #6

            Thank you so much ! That will really help !! Is the book that you used available for purchase ...sounds like it would be a great resource for alterations in general. I use Sandra Betzina's book, Fast Fit, often!

          3. FitnessNut | | #7

            The book I referenced is not an alteration book per se, but a patternmaking book. It is Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong. It is unlikely that you will see it in a book store, except those selling textbooks for design students. However, it is available online through vendors like amazon.com and chaptersindigo.ca (Canadian). Be prepared though, like other textbooks, it isn't cheap, though a new softcover edition coming out soon may be more budget-wise than the current hardcover. You may also find similar instructions in other patternmaking texts.

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