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
While I work up the post on the amazing time I had at the Chicago Quilt Festival, I will show you part of my haul.
As you know I love vintage textiles, and I have a special affinity for special pieces. And pillowcases. My god, I love a good vintage pillowcase.
These pillowcases are so awesome with these gorgeous inset crochet edges. Can you believe these were less than $18 a PAIR? Just on a lark I checked Bed Bath And Beyond’s website and they don’t sell them that cheap for NEW pillowcases.
I need hankies like I need a HOLE IN MY HEAD. Seriously, I have an addiction. But the cocktail napkin about the water cure is hilarious.
Then there’s this piece. OMG, it’s so wonderful. It says “Pure as the brightest gem is Mother’s love alone.” It can also be translated as “Mother’s Love is as pure as a gemstone.” It was a popular German embroidery from the early 1900’s.
This is the edging of a single whitework pillowcase I bought from a Vintage Textile dealer. It was $6. Don’t you just lament that someone worked so very hard on this and it ends up being sold for $6? I love the drawn threadwork and it looks like the grey outlines were done in some kind of pen, because they have not washed out. It’s incredibly soft. I do use all of the vintage pillowcases I own. Some see less rotation so they stay nice.
I love me some vintage textiles!!!