Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



By Donna Fenske, Nancy’s Notions Guest Blogger

Give your kitchen or bath an instant upgrade by sewing ruffles to the bottom hem of toweling fabric or premade towels. Discover this easy technique and dress up plain towels for yourself, or to give as gifts.

Start by laundering toweling fabric or purchased towels, as well as the fabric to be used for the ruffles. Press with Best Press Starch Alternative to remove wrinkles and get nice, crisp fabrics to work with.

Next, cut the fabric strips needed for the ruffles and trim. You’ll need one 4″ wide crosswise strip for each ruffle. In our example, we made three layers of ruffles. Also, cut one 1-1/2″ wide crosswise strip for the trim to cover the top ruffle.

If using toweling fabric, hem the short edges to get a clean-finished edge. Use your serger, a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, or press under 1/2″ twice along each short edge and topstitch.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Mark the lines for attaching the ruffles on the towel. Starting from the bottom edge, use a marking pen or pencil to draw a placement line from side to side at 2″, 3-1/2″, and 5″ from the edge. Mark an additional line at 5-1/4″ from the hem edge for trim placement.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Prepare the ruffle strips before attaching them. Fold each strip lengthwise, right sides together. Seam the short edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance, trim, press, and turn right side out. Use the Bamboo Pointer Creaser to get crisp, sharp corners. Turn strips right sides out and press. Serge or zigzag the long raw edges of the strips, leave a long 3″–4″ thread tail on each.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Next, prepare the Ruffler Foot of your sewing machine, adjusting the Pleat Fullness Lever and Pleat Depth Screw to achieve desired pleating on ruffles. The Pleat Fullness Lever controls how often the Ruffler Foot makes a gather or pleat—either every stitch, every 6th stitch, or every 12th stitch. The Pleat Depth Screw regulates how deep each pleat will be. Tighten for deeper ruffles; loosen for more shallow ruffles.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Attach the Ruffler Foot to the sewing machine, and adjust the stitch length to a basting stitch. Ensure the needle is in the center position, and raise the needle bar to its highest position. Attach the Ruffler Foot to the machine, placing the Fork Arm over the needle clamp screw.

Next, create ruffled strips using the Ruffler Foot. Hold the thread tail of one of the fabric strips, and weave the strip under the pronged Separator Blades in front of the foot. Continue threading the strip under the movable Ruffling Blade teeth and back to the Separator Guide. Hold your strip in place and stitch at an even, steady speed, gently guiding the fabric and allowing the foot to feed the fabric evenly. Ruffle all finished fabric strips in this manner.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Determine the order in which you want the strips on the towel, and begin by pinning the bottom ruffle first, at the marked line 2″ from the edge. Topstitch the ruffle to the towel, and repeat with the middle and top ruffles.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Finally, create the trim strip to cover the raw edges of the top ruffle. Start by pressing the fabric strip to give the trim extra body. Cut one of the short edges diagonally, and insert into a 3/4″ Bias Tape Maker. Advance the strip through the tape maker with a straight pin, and press the folded edges flat with your iron as they come through.


Add Designer Details on Towels Donna Fenske Nancy Zieman



Measure the finished width of your towel, and add 1/2″, then cut the strip to that measurement. Open folds at both short ends and press under 1/4″. Refold on the pressing lines. Align the top of the trim strip on the 1/4″ marked line above the top ruffle, covering the raw edge of the top ruffle, and pin in place. Edgestitch all four sides of trim strip to the towel.

Embellish your completed towels with details that give them a true designer look—add machine embroidery, appliqués, fabric flowers, decorative buttons, ribbons, crystals, or other embellishments to complete the project to your taste.

Watch a step-by-step demonstration of this technique, and download the free pattern instructions:






Thank you to Donna Fenske, of Nancy’s Notions, for today’s guest blog.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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