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People often use elastic to create a gathered or ruffled effect. But what if the elastic itself had ruffles? I’m no math expert, but I think that might be ruffles-squared. The new Dritz® Ruffle Elastic is a fun way to add both texture and color with the extra bonus of functional stretchability. We used this pretty new elastic to create a easy ruched effect on a pillow front. “Ruched” means the gathers are secured on both ends. Our pillow fabric is from the brand new Amy Butler Organic Forest collection for Rowan, coming out this October. Ruching is traditionally done with a gathering stitch on your machine. We’re using elastic to do the work instead, creating the same effect but with the addition of an eye-catching trim. A little trick to stitching down the elastic along both edges and still keeping a perfectly centered motif: a zipper foot! It fits perfectly down the center of the elastic. Stitch once with the needle to the left, stitch again with the needle to the right. “Why, yes… we do show a picture.”

Dritz® Ruffle Elastic is very soft and easy to work with. There are nine fashion colors to choose from: Navy, Orange, Olive, Brown, Gold, Wine, Purple, Green and Tile Blue. You get a full yard of ⅝” wide elastic on each card. 

Today’s pillow shows you a unique home décor use for Ruffle Elastic. It also would be just the ticket for all kinds of accessories, like hair bands and purse accents. Or, how about as a garment trim around cuffs and pockets? We love it when we discover a new product with so many uses… in so many colors. 

The supply list below gives you a click-to-buy link to Jo-Ann.com for the rich brown Ruffle Elastic we used. You’ll find a great variety of all the Dritz® Fashion Elastics (and more) both online and in store at Jo-Ann Stores as well as your other favorite fabric retailers. Dritz® is the Sew4Home go-to brand for sewing notions and tools: easy to find, easy to use, always economical. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started 

  1. From the Ruffle Elastic, cut THREE 15″ lengths
  2. From the fabric for the pillow front, fussy cut ONE 17″ high x 25″ wide rectangle. 

    NOTE: The placement of a large motif at the center of the pillow’s front is the cornerstone of this design, be patient and make sure you have enough fabric to really be able to get a great cut. If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our tutorial
  3. From the fabric for the pillow back, cut the following:
    ONE 17″ high x 14½” wide rectangle for the underlap
    ONE 17″ high x 12″ wide rectangle for the overlap
    FOUR 1¼” x 12″ strips for the back ties
  4. From the fabric for the lining, cut ONE 17″ x 17″ square (the back is not lined).
    NOTE: For most of our S4H pillow projects, we recommend cutting your fabric at the same size or even slightly small than the pillow dimensions. However, for this project, we’ve gone 1″ larger all around in order to give us a bit extra to work with to accommodate all the gathering.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Pillow front

  1. Find the 17″ x 25″ front panel. Run a gathering stitch along the top and bottom 25″ edges, but do NOT pull up the gathers; leave the piece flat.
  2. Fold the front panel in half, right sides together, so it is now 8½” x 25″. Press to form a crease. This will be the center guideline for the Ruffle Elastic.
  3. Measure 4″ up from the center fold line. Mark and press a parallel crease line.
  4. Repeat, measuring 4″ down from the center fold line.
  5. You now have three guidelines to follow for the elastic.
  6. Place the creased panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  7. Find the exact center of your feature motif. Using a fabric pen or pencil, mark where the center of the motif intersects with each crease line.
  8. Find the three lengths of Ruffle Elastic. Fold each length in half and mark the center with a pin. 
  9. Match the center point of each elastic length with the marked centers of the crease lines. Pin each in place. Pin the loose ends of the elastic to the sides of the front panel, aligning the raw edge of the elastic with the raw edge of the fabric, again using the crease line as your guide.
  10. Attach a Zipper foot and re-thread your machine with thread to match the elastic in the top and bobbin
  11. Set up the foot to stitch in the Right position.
  12. Starting at one edge of the center elastic strip, slip everything under the Zipper foot and drop the needle to help hold the layers in place. The foot should be positioned so it travels down the center of the elastic with the needle set to stitch to one side. We started with the Right side. Gently stretch the elastic, pulling it until the new stretched length of the elastic allows the fabric to lay flat. 
  13. Begin stitching, stretching as you go. You’ll need to stop every so often, always with the needle in the down position so things don’t shift, and re-stretch. Stitch in this manner across the length of the elastic. 
    NOTE: Over the short distance of our pillow front, we didn’t need to use any additional pins in between the center point and the two ends. Plus the soft Drtiz® Ruffle Elastic is a little bit grippy. However, it is very important your motif stays straight, so fill in with pins as need for your own comfort level.  
  14. Re-set the layers under the Zipper foot again, adjusting so you are now stitching in the Left position. Stitch across the same length of elastic. You’ve now secured this length of elastic and the front panel should already be starting to gather up.
  15. Repeat to attach the remaining two lengths of elastic along the upper and lower guildelines.
  16. Find the 17″ x 17″ lining square and place it wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
  17. Smooth out the front ruching evenly, then pull up the top and bottom basting stitches. Place the pillow front, right side up, on the lining square, matching all the raw edges.  Pull up or loosen the basting stitches as needed so you get a perfect fit along the top and bottom. The elastic will seem a little tight, but that’s okay. Pin in place along all four sides.
  18. Machine baste along all four sides, staying within the ½” seam allowance.
  19. Side aside the finished front panel.

Pillow back and ties

  1. Find the four 1¼” x 12″ strips
  2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press to set a crease.
  3. Unfold so the center crease in visible. Fold in each long raw edge to the middle so the two raw edges meet in the center. Press each side. 
  4. Fold in half again along the original crease, encasing the raw edges. Press and pin in place.  
  5. Topstitch the length of the strip to secure.
  6. Because the ties are oh-so-skinny, we simply cut the ends at a diagonal then zig zagged across to finish. You could also knot the ends then dot them with a seam sealant, such as Fray Check by Dritz.
  7. Find the two pillow back pieces.
  8. On both, make a 2″ hem along the inside 17″ edge (if your fabric is not directional, simply pick one edge to be your inside edge. To do this, fold under the raw edge 1″ and press. Fold under an additional 1″ and press again. Edgestitch along the inside folded edge to make a clean double turn hem.
  9. Place the 17″ high x 14½” underlap panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the 17″ high x 12″ overlap panel on top, also right side up. With the top and bottom raw edges aligned, overlap the hems to yield the correct finished width of 17″. 
  10. Working as close to the raw edges as possible, tack the overlap together at the top and bottom to secure and create one piece. It will be easier to work with one piece instead of two later when you stitch front to back.
  11. Find the four finished ties. 
  12. Place one set of ties 4½” from the top raw edge. The second set of ties is 4½” from the bottom raw edge.
  13. For each set, pin one tie flush with the exposed hem line of the overlap panel and the other tie directly opposite it flush against the fold of the opening.
  14. Stitch each end of each tie in place with a 1¼” long box of stitching.

Assembling the layers

  1. Find the finished front and back panels.
  2. Carefully fold up and pin the ties on the back so they do not get caught in the stitching. It also helps to pin the envelope opening closed so it lays flat. 
  3. Place your ruched front piece on your work surface right side facing up. Place your back/tie piece on top, right side facing down. 
  4. Carefully align all the raw edges and pin in place.
  5. Stitch together through all layers around all four sides, using a ½” seam allowance. Go slowly and make sure your layers stay flat.
  6. Clip the corners diagonally. Be careful not to clip into your seam
  7. Turn right side out through the back opening.
  8. Gently round out the corners from the inside using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick.
  9. Insert your pillow form through the envelope opening and fluff it out into the corners.
  10. Tie two neat bows on the back.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews What Sew Ever

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