To make the neck ruff I did a little research about different methods of construction. Most costumers agreed that to make an authentic ruff, one needed to use starched linen and make stacked pleats to create the swirly-edged look. I was not about to do that, and decided that regular pleats would do just fine.
For this post I will refer to the parts and edges of the ruff this way:
I bought a roll of 2 1/2″ wide wired organza ribbon, figuring that the wired edges would let me shape the pleats and ruffles a little more easily than just leaving it to chance. I picked 2 1/2″ wide ribbon because that was what was available– in the future I might go a little narrower to make a smaller ruff. Remember, the width of the ribbon will determine the distance your ruff sticks out from your neck.
I also got some 1 1/2″ wide white satin ribbon to form the base of the ruff. For future reference, your base ribbon should be slightly wider than you want your finished outside edge to be. You’re going to be pleating your wired ribbon onto the satin ribbon, so the satin needs to be basically the same height as the inside pleats. However, your straight pleats will have to be rounded out (which makes them shorter) to form the swirly outside edge, so your ruff will taper down in height from your neck to the outside. Just keep that in mind.
I will admit that I didn’t give this due consideration when I made my ruff, so my inside pleats were wider than my satin ribbon, which made for some slightly less comfortable wired points to stick out on either side of the satin.
Anyway, I made about a dozen pleats in the wired ribbon (still on the spool), approximately 2″ wide. I did this by eye, but in the future I would mark off the pleats with a pen and a ruler to make sure they were exactly even. I only pleated one side of the ribbon– in other words, I only bent one of the wires on the edges of the ribbon to form the inside pleats. Since the other wire would form the swirly outside edge I didn’t want to crease it any more than necessary.
Once I’d bent my wire into the dozen or so pleats, I stitched them down with white thread to the satin ribbon about 1/4″ apart. And while I said that the satin should be basically the same width as the pleats, you’re actually going to make your pleats just a fraction of an inch wider than your base satin ribbon, so that when you stitch them down at a slight angle they’re exactly the same width.
I stitched only along the top edge of the satin ribbon, continuing to pleat more wired ribbon as I went along, until I reached my desired length.
Then I cut off both the satin and wired ribbons, and sewed down the bottom edge of the wired ribbon in the same manner.
At this point my inside pleats were nicely stitched down, but my outside edge was a mess. I got out my 1″ barrel curling iron (unheated) and used my fingers to shape the outside ruffles around it. You could use any cylindrical object, depending on your desired ruffle diameter.
Finally, I stitched some red satin ribbon to the ends of the ruff so I could tie it closed. Voila!
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