Ruching has traditionally been used to decorate clothing, accessories, and quilts. More recently, modern technology has allowed seamstresses to create precise, evenly-spaced ruching that has kept the technique current.
Many items can be ruched for added visual detail, including wedding dresses, flower appliqués, pillows, and blinds. Ruching involves evenly folding, stitching, and gathering a length of material in order to achieve the desired result.
The History of Ruching
Ruching is a labor-intensive, time-consuming technique that, like many other art forms, is experiencing a resurgence in current fashion trends. In the late 19th century, ruching was a popular way to decorate women's clothing, such as hats and petticoats. However, some argue that ruching has existed for much longer, possibly as far back as the Middle Ages.
The uniformity found in historical ruched pieces has led historians to believe that medieval seamstresses used some sort of tool to evenly space the ruching. Around the 1850s, quilters began using ruching in order to create three-dimensional flower appliqués for quilts.
Modern Uses for Ruching
- One popular modern-day use for ruching is to gather the fabric at certain points in the design of a dress, thus adding visual interest to the piece.
- Ruching can be applied to dress sleeves, bodices, waistbands, and collars.
- Many contemporary wedding dresses feature fabric that has been gathered or ruffled using this technique.
- Just as it was in the 19th century, ruching is still used in evening wear, such as ball gowns and prom dresses, and in some cases it can even decorate a necktie.
- Ruching is also used in home design products, such as pillows or on the bottom edge of an Austrian blind.
Essentially, any type of fabric can be ruched, including metallics, ribbons, and even lace. It's important to note that the material must be significantly longer than the desired finished length, as the process of gathering will shorten it significantly.
Modern-day seamstresses and tailors often use a plastic guide to mark the zig-zag pattern that will later be stitched. Another gadget, a fabric sack filled with chalk, can be used to make the markings. Small running stitches are then sewn by hand or with a sewing machine. The thread must be sturdy to allow the fabric or ribbon to be gathered.
Free tutorials and instructional videos are available on the Internet to teach people how to ruche, and books are also available on the subject.
How to Ruche a Flower
Using the following technique, a seamstress can create attractive flowers for appliqué purposes.
- Fold the sides of a strip of fabric to the backside until they meet.
- Next, lines are marked at a 90° angle on the front side, spaced evenly.
- The lines are stitched with a matching thread; stitchers should be sure to loop the thread back to the front when they reach an edge.
- After sewing a few inches, the stitcher should then gather the fabric or ribbon into petals.
- Using another needle and thread, the petals are then curled into a circular pattern.
- At the end of the petals, the tail is tucked under and tacked.