Ruched cuffs and collar: a tutorial

I was quite pleased with my recently made tops with the ruched collar and cuffs, and I thought I’d share my trial one as a mini-tutorial. I am doing the cuff, but the collar is exactly the same process.

The first thing to do is to make a pattern piece. I loosely measured my wrist and worked out how deep I wanted the cuff. I doubled the depth (because it’s going to be folded in half) and added 1cm seam allowance to the width and the depth. I drew three lines evenly spaced on the pattern piece. These will be the lines along which you will sew the elastic. I clipped the ends of the lines so I could line the elastic up along the width.


I played around with the elastic sewing. I was going to zigzag it, but in the end used a straight stitch. When I made the actual tops I reduced the length of the straight stitch and think that worked much better. I also fiddled around with the degree of ruching via the length of the elastic. I think my elastic was a bit long in this practice one, so for subsequent tops I made the elastic shorter to get more ruching. For example, my cuff is 25cm (10″) in total length and I used 15cm (6″) of elastic, so about 3/5 if you want a rough guide.


I used elastic from my stash, and used the narrowest I had.

The stitches will show on the outside of your cuff, so choose your bobbin thread wisely!IMG_5116

Do three lengths of elastic with the cuff flat, and then join the short ends of the cuff to make a circle and sew the final length of elastic down this seam. This is slightly tricky but perfectly doable.IMG_5117

Double your cuff over and try it on to check your measurements and degree of ruching.IMG_5118

You will now join the raw edges to the bottom of your sleeve, and et voila, you have a really simple, but quite effective, ruched cuff!

You can see my evolution of this process here. The cuff on the right was my first attempt, with a narrower cuff and with the elastic drawn less tightly. The top on the left was my third attempt. I made the cuff longer and included the neck. I also wanted to accentuate the ruching so made the elastic shorter. I like both versions, which tells me that you can do whatever you feel like and it will look fine.

Happy ruching!


16 thoughts on “Ruched cuffs and collar: a tutorial

  1. The tops look great!
    Have you seen the various weights of elastic threads available? I’ve worked with two: a thicker one (maybe 2-3mm) that is a bit like hat elastic and is cotton covered ‘rubber’, and a fine translucent one not much thicker than regular sewing cotton. In both cases they are wound on the bobbin and you would need to fiddle with the bobbin tension. They do a good job of rushing, especially if you want more rucking lines or sew them closer together.
    I’m about to try for a copy of a travel tee shirt that had ruched princess seams ending in the armscye. The neat thing was the hidden pocket was that it was let into one of the ruched seams via an invisible zip. If I succeed, I’ll have wear it when I’m virtually traveling with you to exotic places.
    Thanks for writing such a great blog.

    1. I have got a few examples of these in my drawer but feel they tend to look more like shirring than ruching – I think you could get a similar effect but you would need more lines to get the stretch. Your new top sounds amazing – make sure I get to see it and thank you for your kind comment!

  2. No sooner said than done! Thanks for this clever idea + tutorial. I’ll try it on my next Plantain for sure.

  3. Thanks for the clear tutorial. As others have said I shall try this on my next T-shirt.

  4. I’d never done ruching before, but my daughter requested that I copy a cardigan she’d bought which had a cut-on collar/facing whose center back seam was ruched. By reading your post, I figured out how to accomplish this. Thank you.

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