Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Carolina Herrera Dress Knock Off - Part 3

One of the features of the CH dress that caught my eye was the ruching around the neckline. Ruching (rooshing)is a French term that means gathering, ruffling or pleating. Ruching has been used to embellish garments for hundreds of years. I have loved this detail since first seeing it in the book Decorative Dressmaking. This book is a good addition to a sewing library, especially for inspiration. The book takes a technique, such as ruching, faggoting, piping, pin tucking, etc. and presents a collection of pictures showing the technique used in garments over the years. Then the author sketches ideas for using it in current garments , as well as providing direction for one garment (warning - circa 1990’s). I have several patterns in my stash that feature ruched trim.

I have made this Vogue DK T-shirt, which was donated to Goodwill because I used a poly sheer for the inset ruching and it puffed unattractively, and the Burdastyle jacket below.

Both used a method of inserting the ruched strip between two seams. The fabric to be ruched is cut in a strip on the straight of grain. The width of the strip is determined by the width of the desired insertion. The length will be determined by the fabric weight and the amount of gathering desired. Gathering stitches are sewn along each cut edge. The stitches are pulled so that the strip is gathered to the finished length and inserted into seams on both sides.

Sample 1 is an example of this method I considered for this dress. One side of the strip is inserted in the band to bodice seam and the other is finished off with a wide bias binding to
create the dark border.

On the close up photo of the dress neck line, I could see what looked like a line of stitches ¼ inch from the edge of the ruched strip and it didn’t look like the strip was inserted into a seam. Sample 2 was my first attempt to acheive that look. A strip of the silk chiffon was cut on the straight of grain. A small hem of 3/8 inch is turned under on the long edges before sewing the gathering stitch ¼ from edge. The strip was gathered and top stitched in place sewing ¼ from the edges, over the gathering stitches. But the double layer on the outside edge appeared more opaque than the rest of the strip. Not quite what I was seeing on the dress.

The third sample was a bias cut strip of chiffon, gathering stitches sewn slightly more than ¼ from the cut edge. I gathered the strip and top stitched to neckband ¼ inch from cut edge. The bias cut edge does not fray and gives a softer edge look to the ruched strip. You can even trim it after applying, if you didn’t stay 1/4 “ from the edge.

The method used for Sample 3 was the one I chose to use on the dress based on the finished appearance. I love the look of silk chiffon fabric, but I dislike working with it because it is so light weight and hard to control. My bias cut white chiffon stripes acted just like long slithery ghost snakes; slipping, sliding, changing width, catching on any rough surface, aarg! And my chiffon fabric was 52 inches wide which is great for long bias strips, but bigger than most home sewer's cutting tables. The wool rug in my living room came in handy for cutting the bias strips. I lined up the edges of the silk square with the edges of the border in the rug and the texture of the rug kept the silk from shifting while I cut the strips using sharp shears.
The neckline inner edge also had brown sheer fabric that extended beyond the dark band , softening the edge. To achieve this I used a bias cut strip of brown chiffon that when folded double measured ¾ inch wide. I sewed it ½’ from the finished neck edge. so that it extended beyond the edge by ¼ inch. In the picture below the facing has not yet been sewn to the front band and the brown chiffon appears flush with the band inner edge.

This method of finishing an edge was used in the Vogue Issey Miyake pattern 2796 below. You just never know when those weird IM techniques will come in handy.


  1. I love Decorative Dressmaking. It's in my top ten list of sewing books everyone should own. Thank you for showing the details of how you achieved the ruching.

    Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

  2. What interesting uses of ruching. There is a lot of work in your dress.

  3. Thank you for the details, as the finished garment is stunning.

  4. Thanks for a very inspirational post. Love the ruching on the jacket.

  5. Thanks for the lesson on rushing. I'm buying the recommended book.