Ruching is kind of sewing method. Here, small strips or fabric are gathered, following a pattern, to create beautiful petals, scallops or ruffles. In fact, “ruching” is the French word for ruffle. It is commonly used to decorate waistbands, collars, and sleeves.
To make a ruching flower, the seamstress must carefully fold the sides of each strip, positioning the lines in a ninety degree angle. This is held in place with thread, which is looped back to front once it reaches the edge. The fabric is pinched together, or gathered, every few inches. These petals are further curled to form a circle, with the tail end of the petal tucked under.
From the above description alone it is clear that ruching is a laborious technique that demands not just precision but patience. However, expert seamstresses who prepared the 19th century gowns could do this so perfectly that it lead historians to think that they used a guide or tool. This led modern tailors to develop a plastic guide that would help them mark the areas that would be stitched. Tailor’s chalk would then be used to make small and colorful lines that would later disappear under handling or gentle washing. Circular ruching guides also make it easier for people to make ruching flowers.
Many fabrics are appropriate for ruching, such as lace and ribbons and even metallics. It is still used for evening gowns but is now also used in everyday clothes, home accessories like curtains and pillows and tea towels, and children’s clothes.