If you've ever worked with soft, sleazy, slippery satin you know why I call it the fabric from hell. (It is no coincidence that the words satin and Satan are so similar - rumor has it they're second cousins once removed).
Gosh, just cutting the stuff is a challenge. Keeping it straight? Forgetaboutit. Oh, and did I mention it frays?
So why in heavens name would we even attempt to work with the horrid stuff? Because it makes the most beautiful ruffles on earth and when combined with Minkee, guarantees to lower your blood pressure twenty points (and you'll definitely need that after working with it - along with a good stiff drink).
Today I am here to help you conquer your fear of satin. After today's tutorial I promise you will face it with confidence and almost enjoy the sewing experience.
There are a few key steps to assure success but as my momma always said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right". So just go with it. In the end you'll be glad you did. Once again I'll be divulging my secret tricks and telling you about cool tools you will want (and need).
Ready? Let's get started.
The first step is to cut your strips to make the ruffle. Using your rotary cutter cut strips twice the width of your desired finished ruffle width plus 3/4". Example: a 2" finished ruffle would need to be cut 4 3/4" wide. I don't recommend cutting satin on the bias, why ask for more trouble than you need. Straight across, selvage to selvage works just fine. I always cut more strips than I need (you'll see why later) but a good rule of thumb is about 2 yards of satin for an average (45"x60") size baby blanket. Thankfully satin is relatively inexpensive so two yards won't brake the bank.
Once you have all your strips cut it's time to sew them together. With right sides together lay them at right angles so they look like this
and sew diagonally from point A to B so when opened up your strips will be even with the raw edges straight. You're going to have those little triangular shaped ends that will need to be cut away leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
This is the same technique we use to sew quilt binding strips together and to piece borders. The theory is that a diagonal seam is less noticeable than a straight seam and doesn't stop your eye so it kind of disappears.
Helpful Hint #1: Chain piece all your strips together (just keep sewing and sewing without stopping to cut your threads). (This makes a rather boring task go super fast). (Am I using too many parentheses here?) (Is there a rule on this?) = )
Next cut all your strips apart so you end up with just one looong strip. Trim off all the triangle shaped ends leaving about a 1/4" seam allowance at each juncture. At this point you may want to take it to the ironing board and press your strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and raw edges even.
I have an example of a strip that was not pressed to show you later. Both finished looks are nice.
Fold over and press one of the two ends to create a finished end.
Helpful Hint #2: Lengthen the straight stitch on your machine and sew a straight basting stitch through both layers of your strip about 1/8" from the raw edge. This is one of those necessary steps that will save you from problems later. So just do it. Okay? You will thank me later. (Once this is done the rest is really fun. Trust me)
Cool Tool #1 & Helpful Hint #3: With your serger, serge the raw edge of your strip. What's that? You don't have a serger? Come see me and we can fix that. Or at least do a zig zag stitch with your sewing machine or some other seam finishing stitch. This helps control the fraying and will make life easier later. One of the great things about sergers is that they sew super fast and cut as they sew. Helpful Hint #4: To assure that the width of the ruffle stays consistent I put a piece of tape or post it note on my machine or serger to assure my ruffle is feeding evenly and my ruffle is the same width throughout because remember satin is hard to cut out and sometimes your strips can be possessed rather wonky.
Cool tool #2: The ruffler.(Cue heavenly music).
This is the one foot that all ruffle making mommas must own. Yes, they're a little expensive but think of them as tools. Would your man question the price of a power screw driver? Heck no! Tell him you're buying a tool, not a sewing machine foot and he'll totally get it. Seriously, if I were stuck on a desert island and could only take one accessory for my machine it would be a ruffler (and a very loong extension cord). Rufflers make ruffling fun and there is no way in Satan's Kingdom that I would make yards and yards of ruffles without one. The good news is that you can buy one for all machines so ask Santa for one if you have too, but just get one. I'm tell'n you - you need this!
These things look complicated but they really aren't. You just need to remember to put that little U shaped thingy around the needle screw cause that's what makes it work.
Then you just slip your fabric between these two pieces of metal
and you're ready to make yards and yards of heavenly ruffles in mere minutes.
Notice the post it note is on the right this time to help me keep the ruffle feeding straight? I just watch the fabric feeding even with the post it note - I'm not watching the needle - and my seams are straight and loverly.
Helpful Hint#5: Notice that the straight stitch the ruffler is making is to the left of the serger stitches. Muy importante since you don't want them showing on your finished project - you want them inside your seams - not showing when your project is done.
Helpful Hint: #6: Lengthen your stitch. A ruffler works by kicking in a pleat with every stitch, every sixth stitch or twelfth stitch. The longer the stitch the less full the ruffle will be. Because satin is so soft and sleazy it wants to gather very very tightly so by lengthening the stitch you won't need fourteen thousand yards of satin to make your ruffle - just two. (I almost always set my ruffler to gather on every stitch, which is the slot on the far right). With a lengthened stitch and my stitch setting on one I get about four times fullness with satin.
Here's a better shot of the stitch selector. The zero on the left is for no gathering at all. (Not sure when you'd use that with this foot on, but knew you were wondering so thought I'd mention it).
Helpful Hint #7: Gather more ruffle fabric than you will need. There is nothing worse than coming up short and having to go back and make more.
NOTHING. (Except maybe a visit to the gynecologist).
If and when that happens I usually cut my blanket smaller to fit my ruffle - it's that hard to go back. So just add a few extra strips for good measure while you're cutting . PLEASE!
Helpful hint #8: Save all your left over pieces. You just never know when you can add them to a project like this one. I probably never would have taken the time to make the few feet of brown satin ruffle it took to add to these little britches, but I had it in my left over box and it added the perfect touch. Don'tyathink?
This is an example of a ruffle without a pressed crease. See how round and poofy it is?
Here's our red and white dot ruffle on a Minkee Blankee
with a red Minkee backing. So cute.
Just look at those perfectly even ruffles. Can't you just feel yourself calming? Don't you just want to take it in the corner and suck your thumb?
HELLO?...tap...tap...tap. Anyone still with me?
We're done people!
Can I get a hallelujah here?
Next week I'll show you the tricks of attaching the ruffles to your projects and I promise not to write another flipp'n book!
Now go forth and spread the gospel of beautiful ruffles!
Encourage one another,