How to Add Ruching Effect With Drawstrings to a Dress

Created By:

Erica Bunker

Skill Level: Intermediate

The Staystitch Lola Dress had been on my radar for the longest. And when I decided to make it, I thought this would be a great dress to hack by adding this drawstring ruching detail to. So, let me show you how I added it to the design.


I’ve been admiring the drawstring ruching trend for a couple of years now. I actually made a dress previously with this detail.

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I’ve been loving this style so much since I made this dress back in 2018, that every time I see this detail, I want to add it to something. So, I finally decided to do it.

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The Staystitch Lola Dress had been on my radar for the longest. And when I decided to make it, I thought this would be a great dress to hack by adding this drawstring ruching detail to. So, let me show you how I added it to the design.

This hack works best with dress that are more body conscious and fitted. And also, this tutorial assumes that you are working with a knit fabric. That’s why I chose a tank style dress. And also, before you cut out your fabric, decide how long your dress needs to be prior to ruching so that you get enough gathering. I like to use the gathering ratio of 1.5:1 or 2:1, meaning that where you want your ruched hemline to sit and how full you’d like it to be, you’re going to multiply the ruched space by either 1.5 or 2, and so on…

For this dress, I followed the instructions until the side seams. Go ahead and finished your side seams with your serger. For this pattern, the seam allowance is 3/8”. This detail works best with ½”-5/8”. If your seam allowance is smaller than that, you’ll have to add on to accommodate. Before sewing your side seams, go ahead make your hem on the bottom. And then sew your side seams.

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Press your seam allowance open.

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Using your dress form or trying on the dress, decide how far up you would like your ruching to go. Mine was 30” up from the hemline. Make sure you mark it on both sides.

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Sewing Tip: When using my Janome Memory Craft 15000, I always use my walking foot to sew with stretch fabrics. So, for my edge stitching, I used the walking foot’s edge stitch attachment foot.

Edge stitch the outermost edge of the seams allowance to create a casing for your drawstrings.  But only stitch the sides! Do NOT stitch across the top, yet.

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For the drawstrings, I cut mine 35” long. My ruching space is 30” long, so I wanted to the drawstrings to be a little longer so that they wouldn’t get lost in the dress casings. I cut them 1.5” wide. With them folded lengthwise with right sides together, I stitched them using my serger using a ¼” seam allowance.

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Using a loop turner and a small safety pin, I turned the tube right side out.

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Using a safety pin and/or your loop turner, feed the tube through the seam allowance casing. At the top of the casings, leave about an inch of the drawstrings out.

Repeat this step on all four casings.

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At the top of your casings, sew across the top of the casings, across the drawstrings to secure into place.

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Pull on the drawstrings to create the ruching effect and tie them in a bow once you’ve achieved your desired fullness and length.

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For more from Erica Bunker follow her on Instagram @ericabunker

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