How to Make a Circular Ruffle

Welcome to peacock bathroom shower curtain week! We’re on the home stretch to the final room reveal and this project is one that will make a big impact and add a lot of color, so we’re excited to get it up. We’ll be splitting it up into three days for you so we can give enough time to each of the steps. Day one is a tutorial on circular ruffles, day two is finding a solution to hanging the curtain that won’t involve your traditional spring rod, and day three is the curtain reveal.
ruffle shower curtain
While we can sew a (mostly) straight line, we’re not huge sewers over here, but thank goodness my mother-in-law is. She makes wedding dresses, clothing, costumes, but more than anything she’s a cracker-jack ballroom gown designer and sewer. She sews for a lot of the ballroom teams around the area and has made a name for herself. As such, she’s picked up a few tricks of the trade to make fabulous gowns and dresses.

circular ruffle{Source}

So what is a circular ruffle? That’s what we wondered when she asked us if we’d be doing the circular or gathered ruffle for the project we’ve been tweeting about for weeks now.

Us: “Is there a difference?”
Mom: “Oh yes, yes indeed my young padawans.” Ok, so she didn’t say that exactly, but you get the jist.

She explained that circular ruffles are used in many types of dresses but have other practical uses as well. The nice thing is you avoid the gathered look  and  reduce the overall weight of the item- using less fabric on your actual piece, although you might need more fabric to achieve the look. Sounds counter-intuitive right?

At this point a picture would be really helpful – since I was still quite confused.

circular ruffles{Source}

You make a circular ruffle (flounce) by cutting two circles, one smaller on the inside and one larger “the doughnut” on the outside (this large circle will be the actual ruffle, so make sure the width is what you’d like it to be). The inner edge of the large circle is where you will attach the ruffle to your final piece. You cut through one side of the doughnut and it’ll let you pull it and your ruffle will appear.

We cut a circle first out of newspaper, and similar to making a paper snowflake, you can shape one eighth of the piece and the rest will be symmetrical.
making circular ruffles
Now, keep in mind that the ratio of your inner circle to your outer circle will determine the amount of ruffle you will achieve. The smaller you make the inside circle the more ruffled your piece will be. The larger the inner circle the less ruffled and more wave-like it will be. So when working with these, as you can guess, you’ll probably have to sew many circular pieces together to get the length you need, and secondly, you’ll need a lot of fabric if you’re doing a larger project.
circular ruffle
shower curtain tutorial
Our shower curtain will be from floor to ceiling so we’ll need a lot of ruffles – in fact, we used 8 yards of fabric, and probably could have used another yard or two. But since we bought them out, we had to make do. To make cutting easier, we quadrupled the fabric (it’s a light sheer fabric anyway) and cut four at a time, making sure to get the most out of what we had. Metal knives help keep the paper in place and avoid having to use those pesky pins.
circular ruffle tutorial
You can help minimize waste by making cuts out of the smaller sections of the fabric too, just make sure you keep using the same measurements for the circle (or better yet, a homemade pattern).
Here’s what it’ll look like once we layer it on the curtain, if it helps you catch the vision.
how to make ruffles
Then using a serger, we finished all the edges to stop fraying and connected 2.5 pieces together, to give me the final length that I needed for the curtain.

Sewing ruffles

While we couldn’t use every scrap of fabric that we could have using the gathered ruffle, the circular ruffle in my mind, is superior for this shower curtain for a few reasons. Here’s why:

1) I’m still getting the amount of ruffle I want – which I can easily control by maintaining or adjusting my inner circle.
2) The ruffle will be perfectly spaced once attached to my curtain since it takes the guess work out of ruffling by hand or machine. I just sew a straight line to attach them.
3) The fabric that I’m not using would have just been more weight on my curtain using the gathered method.

Anyone learn something new today? I sure did!

Update: Want to see how it all turned out? We’ve posted the final reveal and cost break down for the kid’s peacock bathroom here.

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  1. Well I just learned something new! Thanks so much for this demo. I could use this on so many things, so thanks! I can’t wait to see the finished project!

  2. I was wondering how to do that. Have ideas for dresses for my granddaughters

  3. I am completely in love with this shower curtain! I may have to talk my mom in to assisting me with making one since she can sew and I am clueless!

  4. ohh…I forgot about this trick…this is great because you get the look of ruffles without having to gather!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial! It will look great in your bathroom 😉

  6. Ive wanted to learn how to do this ruffle! Thanks for the tutorial. I’m excited to see how the room turns out. So far, I really like it!

  7. What a great tutorial! Your ruffles remind me of my days of sewing figure skating costumes and those twirly skirts. The shower curtain is going to look beautiful.

  8. I never even thought of — or heard of — that! How wonderful! Must pin and save for future reference …

    Can’t wait for the final reveal.

    Oh, and have you heard about the new “friend/follower” tool from Linky Tools? I think it’s called Linky Follower. Check out The DIY Showoff for more details. I’m keeping my GFC for now too, but thought it might not be a bad idea to get in on the ground floor of this universal friend connect product for our blogs …


  9. Excellent tutorial and beautiful color! Back when my girls were little I ruffled everything, so I remember using this technique. Thanks for the refresher course! LOVE the color you’ve chosen. I’m using it in my studio redo. Now I’m looking for a way to add a teal ruffled curtain somewhere in there.

  10. Um… are you kidding me!?? This is amazing!
    I hope you’ll link this up to our first ever linky party! Party just started! My reader’s would LOVE to see how to make a circular ruffle! I know I sure did! :)

    -Mallory @ Classy Clutter

  11. This is fabulous! Question though: How did you get a long continuous ruffle? Or did you just sew circle-to-circle?

  12. Thanks!!! Been trying to find instructions for gatheredless collar..I have found it. I had not considered the geometry involved. Keep up the good work.

  13. I just made some curtains for my girls’ room using circle ruffles, but made them vertical instead of horizontal. Come check it out–and thanks for the idea!

  14. In the mid 60s, I had a lovely, silky blouse which was very plain except in had a non-gathered ruffle attached to the round neckline (about the depth of a t-shirt neckline). I think it would use your technique, but I’m not sure how to plan it out. Any ideas?