Welcome back friends to my little blog where I’m participating in my good friend Sam Hunter’s Back to School Blog Hop! I’ve been a participant for several years in a row with Sam’s wonderful blog hop and I am so so so happy to teach you something near and dear to my heart – Ruching!
Ruching (pronounced rooshing) is a very old fabric manipulation technique that’s been used on gowns and quilts and home decor since the early 1700’s. Ruching can refer to any kind of fabric gathering technique, but here we are going to be specifically gathering strips of fabric. In Quilting, ruching was used on Baltimore Album quilts in the 1860’s. In historical clothing, you can see lot’s of gowns from this same era featuring ruched strips of ribbon adorning them as trims.
Your materials list is very simple: needle and thread (I like Jeana Kimball Wool Needles #7), a strip of fabric about 22 inches long and 2 inches wide, a pencil, an iron and ironing surface, and a Smocking Template to make some marks (I like using my mini smocking template for this technique, but you can use the large one too). Optionally, you can get some Thread Conditioner, like my Mind Your Own Beeswax, to strengthen your thread.
To begin, iron your strip so that the raw edges are in the center. The wrong side of your fabric, should yours have one, should be encapsulated in the middle, and you should only see right sides up.
Next, you need to mark your fabric on the side with the raw edges with a pencil, just at the top and bottom of the strip in a alternating pattern. This is so you have something to sew towards as you make your gathers. The smocking template makes quick work of this, but you could alternately use a ruler.
With your needle threaded (and optionally waxed), start in the bottom corner of the strip, and take an extra stitch so your knot doesn’t pull or pop out. Then take running stitches at an angle toward the opposite side of the strip to the mark you made with your pencil.
Here’s the trick of this whole process. No matter if your needle ends up on the top or bottom side of the strip, you want to make sure that your next stitch loops the thread over the edge of the fold of the fabric. I flip the thread over and start stitching towards the next mark.
After about 3 or 4 “zig zags” on your strip, you can start gently pulling the gathers. You do not want to wait until the end of sewing the whole strip to do this, or your thread will break in the middle! (Ask me how I know!) After you pull them and gather the fabric, take an extra stay stitch at that spot to keep them in place.
Keep going until you have gathered the whole strip! Now here’s where you can see some variations. If you skip a space on your smocking template when making your marks, you will create much wider gathers. This can create softer flowers or shapes. Remember, the raw edges and the marks are technically the back of your strip. You will use the other side as the “right” side.
Also, if you want the colors in a particular strip, you can select a fabric that has a print, but the print itself will be lost in the technique and just leave behind the pretty colors.
Once you have your strip gathered, you can hand applique it down like you would any other fabric. I use the points of the ruching as the spots that get tacked down to the background. I like to spiral them into flowers, tucking in the raw ends to hide them. But they can be stems, or swags, or whatever you like!
Ruching can add some beautiful dimension to your next quilting or garment project! I hope you give it a try! If you like this technique, you will love my online class! Check it out here.
Be sure to check out all of the other blogs participating in this year’s Back to School Blog Hop! Go back and read the previous days and be sure to check them out further along in the month!
Day 1 – September 1 – Sam Hunter: Sewing Long Seams Without Stretching – huntersdesignstudio.com
Day 2 – September 2 – Susan Arnold – Joining Binding the Easy Way – quiltfabrication.com
Day 3 – September 3 – Angie Wilson – Fussy cutting tips and techniques – www.gnomeangel.com
Day 4 – September 4 – Andi Stanfield – No-Mark HST: Let your machine be your guide – truebluequilts.com/blog/
Day 5 – September 5 – Bobbie Gentili – Say YES to Y-seams – geekybobbin.com
Day 6 – September 6 – Mel Beach – 5 Reasons to Say Woo Hoo! to School Glue – pieceloveandhappiness.blogspot.com
Day 7 – September 7 – Laura Piland – 7 Ways to Use a Laser on Your Sewing Machine – www.sliceofpiquilts.com
Day 8 – September 8 – Suzy Webster – How to solve loops in free motion quilting – www.websterquilt.com
Day 9 – September 9 – Tara Miller – Accurate Stitch-and-Flip Corners – quiltdistrict.com
Day 10 – September 10 – Latifah Saafir – Accurate Seams Using Masking Tape! – latifahsaafirstudios.com
Day 11 – September 11 – Sarah Ruiz – The Magic of Glue Basting – saroy.net
Day 12 – September 12 – Jen Shaffer – Ways to stop your ruler from slipping while cutting – patternsbyjen.blogspot.com
Day 13 – September 13 – Cheryl Sleboda – Basics of ruching (a vintage fabric manipulation technique) – muppin.com
Day 14 – September 14 – Raylee Bielenberg – Choosing quilting designs for your quilt – www.sunflowerstitcheries.com
Day 15 – September 15 – Jen Strauser – Accurate and Attractive Machine binding – dizzyquilter.com
Day 16 – September 16 – Jane Davidson – Matching points for all types of intersections – quiltjane.com
Day 17 – September 17 – Teresa Coates – Starch and starch alternatives – teresacoates.com
Day 18 – September 18 – Jen Frost – Benefits of spray basting – faithandfabricdesign.com
Day 19 – September 19 – Sandra Starley – Getting started with Hand Quilting – utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com
Day 20 – September 20 – Karen Platt – Drunkard’s Path Made Easy – karenplatt.co.uk/blog/
Day 21 – September 21 – Kris Driessen – All Kinds of Square (in a Square) – scrapdash.com
Day 22 – September 22 – Sarah Goer – Planned Improv Piecing – sarahgoerquilts.com
Day 23 – September 23 – Kathy Bruckman – Organizing kits for on-the-go sewing – kathyskwiltsandmore.blogspot.com
Day 24 – September 24 – Cheryl Daines Brown – The Secret to Flat Quilt Tops: Borders – quilterchic.com
Day 25 – September 25 – Cherry Guidry – Pre-assembling fusible applique – cherryblossomsquilting.com
Day 26 – September 26 – Laura Chaney – Getting started with English Paper Piecing – prairiesewnstudios.com
Day 27 – September 27 – Ebony Love – Cutting Bias Strips from a Rectangle – lovebugstudios.com
Day 28 – September 28 – Tammy Silvers – Working with heavier weight threads in your machine – tamarinis.typepad.com
Day 29 – September 29 – Kathy Nutley – Create a perfect facing or frame with 90 degree angles – quiltingsbykathy.com
Day 30 – September 3 – Joanne Harris – Using Leaders and Enders – quiltsbyjoanne.blogspot.com
I made this quilt to go along with my DVD. I even thought it might be the cover of the DVD. What it is, though, is a sampler of every technique on the DVD. There’s a few not on the quilt that you can make too!
Check out the chapter list below to see what piece is made in each DVD chapter!
I’m super excited to announce that I have a new workshop to offer to guilds and groups, called Experiments in Dimensional Sewing! After teaching myself lots of these techniques, I’m super exited to share them with you. It’s customizable to a half, full or multi day class, which is perfect for any of your group’s needs. If you are looking for a speaker/teacher for your guild or group, I hope you would consider me!
Ha ha! So yes, again, I have fallen off the planet and only have recently returned to post pictures of my quilts. Due to my acceptance into the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XVI, I was whisked away on Cloud 9 and can’t seem to come back down!I booked a flight to Philadelphia to visit my quilt on display. That should be fun as friends from the Baltimore Heritage Quilters Guild may also attend and visit with me! Yay!
So… onto the quilts for August. This book is delicious. Did I mention that before? The sample photos just give you a small taste of what wonderful things you can do. Also, Project Runway started this week, and I’ll get to that in a moment, and how it ties in with this book.
I tagged my book with those little flags on things I want to try, and there’s more that I want to try than weeks in August, so I am thinking that I may want to explore this book next year in a monthly format. I’m going to suggest it at Divas tonight, to see if anyone wants to come along to try it with me.
Again, this book is great if you have previous experience with fabric and you like to experiment. If you don’t… well, I’m sure there are other books for you.
These 3 inch squares took HOURS to do EACH. Especially if you want them to look “just perfect”, which I had in my head for them to be. I liked some applications better than others, such as the quilted tabs vs. the filled cording, and the losenge pattern on the smocking was too far apart, but lots of lessons were learned.
Back to Project Runway… It started back up this week and one of the contestants has no previous fashion school training, and asks what “smocking” and “godets” are. Now, I knew from costuming what these were, but a lot of people may not. And to tie this all together there are 2 chapters in this book about smocking and godets! Which when mentioned on screen, I smiled a little smile…
This is my first attempt at two projects from the book. I have to preface these with a couple of notes:
First, the one side that looks like woven strips is not woven, it’s a series of manipulated tucks. It was pretty easy to sew, but very hard to get the tucks to do what they are supposed to do. It has a lot to do with the fabric you choose.
Secondly, this is not a book for beginners. I liken myself to be pretty good with fabric. I can hold fabric in my hands and know what it will do when sewn. You need to have this instinct when working witht his book. Also, it is not written with the novice in mind. You must have a good idea of the basics of sewing in order to accomplish the directions, which can feel sparse at times.
These things said, I am really enjoying the exercises. Hope you like it as much as I do.