Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Sewing » Sewing: Clothing » Women's Clothing » Cascading Ruffle Front, Woman’s Shirt

Cascading Ruffle Front, Woman’s Shirt

Spring-time makes me think of light and ruffly things.
My post-baby-mid-section makes me think that I need to hide it.
Put those two thoughts together and I needed a new shirt for spring.
So here’s my solution: a flow-y top of cascading ruffles.  Which, will be just as fun to wear even after things shrink down a bit more.
So no, you don’t have something to hide, to enjoy this top.
It’s just a perk in case you are.
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The ruffles are simple and flow-y……..
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……..and extend all the way to the bottom of the shirt.
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They kind of make me happy.  And less cranky about post-baby-body.
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I know, I need a new mannequin.  Her shape is a little too perfect.
Also, her torso is tons shorter than mine, so I’m always adjusting……but you get the idea.
Would you like to create some of your own cascading ruffles?
You could also put some cascading ruffles on a skirt or only for the top half of a shirt.  Or maybe a bag or pillow…..

For this shirt, I used a thin and flow-y jersey knit.  It seemed more slinky than the knit you would use on like leggings or an under-camisole.  And because of that, it provided a really great flow to the ruffle.  But a thicker, more standard jersey knit will work too. (I’m not sure how to name the different jersey knits.  The label on the bolt of fabric only tells me so much.  Sorry about that.)

How much fabric to buy? It depends on your size and your height.  I bought about 2 yards of fabric, just to be sure to have enough (because you’ll see below you have to cut out good sized circles).  I am pretty tall and wanted it long enough… I made my shirt with a 3/4 sleeve.  You could make yours sleeveless, short sleeve, whatever.  But 2 yards worked for me.
. . .

First, you’ll need to create a shirt, using an old shirt as your pattern.  (Here’s another tutorial with more pictures of the process.)
However, when cutting out your pieces, you’ll need to adjust how you cut the front shirt piece.  You’ll be cutting the front up in the next step and will need extra fabric for seam allowances.  So lay your front shirt pattern piece 3/4 of an inch from the fold (adding 1.5 inches to the front width of the shirt after opening it up) and then cut around your piece like you normally would.
Set all of your front/back pieces and your two sleeve pieces aside.
To make the cascading ruffle, you will need strips of fabric that are curved.  I’ll explain more.
First, measure the length of the front of your shirt.  You will need ruffles that are at least that long around the inner curve of the curved strip of fabric.  So find a bowl with the same circumference measurement (or similar) as the length of the front of your shirt.  (Or make your own circle.)  My shirt was was about 20 inches long down the front… I found a bowl that was about 20 inches around.  I turned it upside down and traced the shape onto some of my knit fabric with some fabric chalk.
Then I made another circle around the first one, measuring 3 inches out from the smaller one.  (Because I want a curved strip that is 3 inches wide.)  I marked with chalk again.
Then I cut out the larger circle…..
……..and then cut a straight line in towards the smaller circle and then cut out the smaller circle.  You will be using the outer ring that is 3 inches wide as your cascading ruffle.  Hold it up, you’ll see how it drapes so nicely.
Now make 2 more of these circular strips of fabric, making a total of 3 strips.
Next, cut your front shirt piece right down the middle.  (Fold it in half and cut along the fold.)  Then measure about 2 inches out from the center and cut another straight line.
Then cut another line on the other side of the center line, making sure that it’s 2 inches away too.  The 3 gaps in the shirt is where you’ll be placing your cascading ruffles.
Grab one of your ruffle pieces and line up the inner edge of the circle with the inner edge of the shirt.  This will create a sort of ruffle along the outer edge of the circle piece.
Then place the straight strip that was cut from there, right on top of the ruffle piece and pin all three pieces together.  (Make sure that shirt pieces are facing each other with the right sides of the fabric.  (The ruffle piece can be right or wrong side facing up…….just do the same with each ruffle.)
Sew in place, then open up your shirt with the right side facing up.  (I used my serger for most of my seams on this shirt.  This can still be done with a regular sewing machine.  Just use a zig-zag stitch or other stitch that works with knits.  Make sure to increase your stitch length if your fabric is pulling or stretching while sewing.)  Lay your next ruffle on top of the skinny strip, matching the inner curved edge of the circular strip with the straight edge of the strip that was just attached to the shirt in the previous step.
Lay the next strip on top with the right side face down. Then pin in place and then sew these 3 layers together.  Open up.
Then attach the 3rd ruffle the same way, attaching the other side of the shirt to this 3rd ruffle.
From the back, you’ll have 3 seams down the center of the shirt.  (Mine are serged but remember you can use a zig-zag or other knit friendly stitch on your sewing machine.)  I also used my iron/steam to flatten out any stretched out fabric.  Using the steam really shrinks the knit back in.
Then place your shirt front and shirt back pieces together, with right sides together. and then sew them together at the shoulders.
Then cut a long strip of fabric that is long enough (and 1 inch wide) to go all the way around the neck opening.  Fold the strip in half lengthwise, with the right side of the fabric facing out and pin one end to the back of the shirt, lining up the raw edges of the folded strip with the raw edge of the neck opening.  You’ll be sewing to the right side of the fabric.  (I finished off the neck just like I did with this shirt here.)
Then, I sewed the folded over strip to the right side of the neck opening all the way around.  As I was sewing, I pulled the strip just a little bit as I was going along.  That way, after letting go, it would pull in… the neck line a nice shape, rather than being all stretched out.  I first sewed all the way around with my regular sewing machine and then went back with the serger to clean up the edges.
When I sewed all the way around and reached the back again, I folded under the end and then sewed over it.  And because I didn’t have exact matching thread, I went back later and hand stitched that little bit of the neckline that remained open a little bit.
Then I opened up one of my sleeve pieces and pinned the curve of the sleeve to the arm hold opening of the shirt.  Make sure you have pinned the right sides of the fabric together
Do the same with the other sleeve and then sew in place.  It should look like this from the back side of the fabric.
Then, with your shirt inside out, sew the shirt together at the sides and up the sides of the sleeves.  Iron/steam all of your seams to help shrink them back in a bit.  Never forget to do that……it will help your sewing with knits look so much better.
Then turn right side out and hem under your sleeves and the bottom of the shirt.
(I actually serged it and was going to hem it but I didn’t have the right color thread…..but then I ended up liking the serged edge just fine.  Maybe I’ll change my mind and hem it another day.)

And you’re done.
Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Patricia Edwards says:

    I have to make a similar shirt for a client and had made a vest with a ruffle front ages ago but couldn’t find the pattern! I knew you had to ut circles of fabric to make the ruffles but wasn’t sure of what size etc to cut. I googled and your tutorial came up! Thankyou sew much – it is absolutely perfect and exactly what I was looking for! Now I am more confident and can start sewing the shirt!

  2. Anonymous says:

    hey thankyou sooo much. I saw a similar ruffled shirt in a shop but it was too expensive so i couldn’t buy it, actually I only loved the ruffles on that shirt ( they were exactly like this one). Always wanted to know how to make them, I’m very thankful to you. God bless you :)

  3. Andrea says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. Very helpful.

  4. Susie E says:

    This would be an awesome style for post mastectomy patients. I’ve been searching for something to boost the self image those first few months after my surgery, and this looks like just the ticket!

  5. Molly Halloran says:

    I love this tutorial and have linked to it on my new-ish blog Curious Visions in a fashion DIY post. I hope you don’t mind.

  6. Edie says:

    oh I love this, I must try this. I have not made any clothes since high school (over 30 years ago) and even then it was only one item… I can vaguely remember it… it did not turn out well LOL.

    Well you make this look easy… I must try it out… thank you for the wonderful tutorials.

  7. e says:

    So gorgeous!

    And rather than get a new mannequin, why not just make a duct tape dummy cover for her so it fits you better?

  8. Ashley says:

    Yay Sara……that's awesome!! :) I'm so glad it worked for you and that you're now an excited seamstress. It just takes that one project to get you hooked, huh? :)


  9. sara says:

    Awesome! I actually made this using your instructions this week. I'm a total novice sewer, I've never made a shirt before and the sleeves and neckline totally intimidated me, but I tried it out. I slightly more than 2 hours I was completely finished (granted I started around 10:30 at night so I was up late), but I wore it to church the next day and felt amazing!!!! I've never made anything like that in my life and now I'm completely inspired. I think it would be awesome if I could figure out how to do this in a skirt… or (hint hint) maybe you could do a tutorial on that!!! I'm a totally believer now and love your easy tutorials and instructions. Thanks for the new shirt!

  10. Kate says:

    Britney Anglesey- I live in Utah County and just found a bunch of cute knits at Hobby Lobby. And thus far, Jo-Ann and Wal-Mart have let me down, so I also considered getting some online. I know there's a Hobby Lobby in the Draper area, so good luck!

  11. says:

    Love it! Great job!! I have a crafty, healthy, etc mom blog at You did a great job. I am always looking for cool sewing tutorials! Thanks Kristy

  12. Forever Young says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE… thanks for providing the "how to," I can't wait to make my own:):):) You are fabulous!!!


  13. Manni says:

    Ashley, you are brilliant. You've given me an idea for a top of mine:)
    Thanks so much for sharing!!

  14. Ashley says:

    Anon – I originally thought about using 2 shirts, the second one for the ruffles. But I'm not sure you could make circles that big. But maybe you could make smaller circles and just piece them together. You just need it to be curved to get that cascading look. SO give it a try.

    And if you only want the ruffles at the top half, you'd have to have the seams down the rest of the shirt.

    Good luck!

  15. Anonymous says:

    That is so cool!!!! I bought a black skirt just like that with the ruffle on the bottem part….but i do have a one question.If i were to do this but only on the top half of the shirt, would i only cut the top half of the shirt because if you didnt, you would have seams down the front.what do you think??

  16. Anonymous says:

    I dont see any reason why one could not buy 2 already made shirts in the same color & hack up the second & make the first one lovelier.. At least thats my plan because….. I LOVE THIS SHIRT! and…. AT 5' IT WILL MAKE ME APPEAR TALLER… :)

  17. Ashley says:

    Jennie – I think it would work diagonally….you may have to experiment with it. Good luck!

    Thanks for the tip Laura! :)

    As for knits….I snag up knits whenever I can find them, even if I don't actually need them at the time. The best finds always seem to be when I'm not looking for them! :) That being said, I have found random knits at Hancock fabrics pretty often, back on their discount table. I have also found some knits at Joann's. Another place that I have found discounted knits is on They have several different types of knits that at one point I ordered a 1/2 yard of several types, just to see what the difference was. I have also found really cute knits here:

    Hope that helps and best of luck!

  18. Britney Anglesey says:

    Question: Do you have any suggestions for finding knits cheaply or in good patterns/colors? I'm in the SLC area but don't really know anywhere with a great selection. Suggestions? Also, anyone want to share the tension settings for sewing knits on a serger and reg machine?

  19. 4325 says:

    Its very pretty and so professionally done. I really like it

  20. Sew Bee It Clothier says:

    Absolutely divine!

  21. elizabeth says:

    I am making a dress right now with circle "flounces" horizontally,but I never even thought to put them vertically. Genius.

  22. Neldajay says:

    Nice ruffle shirt. I wanna make one too. Thanks for a great tutorial! God bless!

  23. Lynette @ My Craft Discovery says:

    Oh, I have been pondering how to make a shirt just like this! And I graduate in a week or so, so it would be great to make for a graduation present for myself! Thank you thank you!

  24. Marla says:

    So pretty! Thanks for the tutorial! Where do you typically buy your fabric? We live about and hour and a half from the city, so fabric stores are hard to come by for clothing fabrics. Thanks!

  25. Jennie says:

    Do you think that this would work for diagonal ruffles?

  26. Mike and Shayla says:

    I love it! I think your blog may be my favorite. All your projects end up looking so professional, yet seem so do-able!

  27. J. says:

    Thank you thank you! I've been trying to figure out how to make cascading ruffles for several months and have found no help–until today! My life is now complete! (Well, perhaps not, but at least I can have cascading ruffles.)

  28. Anonymous says:

    I'm just wondering how in the world you are making stuff besides kraft dinner wiht three little people, one of whom is a newborn?!

  29. Laura @ ON{thelaundry}LINE says:

    me likie. My empty-baby-house mummy-tummy likie as well. pinning this!

    Also… those circles, you could cut them in a spiral and then turn that spiral into rosettes and tadaa you have a matching hairpiece! Three = magic number.

  30. Cara says:


  31. Daisha says:

    You seriously read my mind. I was just thinking about post-partum clothes this morning and how I was going to hide my belly for my high school reunion. This is so cute!

  32. Jennifer says:

    I am not that great of a sewer. But I love this shirt! Is there a way that we could do the ruffles without having to make our own shirt? Your tutorial is awesome, but my skills are lacking.

  33. Emily says:

    Love this! Just like Jessica I've been trying to figure out how to use the ruffles as a skirt/dress for my daughter. :) Your explanation was awesome!!

  34. Ashley says:

    And Jessica, haha, how perfect. Let me know how it goes! :)

  35. Ashley says:

    Williamson Family – How much fabric? It depends on your size and your height. I bought about 2 yards of fabric, just to be sure to have enough (because you have to cut out good sized circles). I am pretty tall and wanted it long enough… I made my shirt with a 3/4 sleeve. You could make yours sleeveless, short sleeve, whatever. You may need less but 2 yards worked for me.

  36. Jessica at Me Sew Crazy says:

    thank you for this! Oddly enough, I was just thinking about a dress using the same technique for the skirt portion. This tutorial will really come in handy!

  37. Williamson family says:

    Oh I love this idea… about how much fabric do you need?

  38. Jill W. says:

    Oh my..what a beautiful top! I appreciate the step by step tutorial so much!

  39. Patti says:

    oooh, I like! This is one of those times when I really wish I had a serger. *sigh

  40. Connie the crafterbug says:

    Wow,what an awesome tutorial! Thanks

  41. Cari says:

    I could seriously kiss you right now. I just returned a $30 dress for my daughter that I LOVED but just couldn't justify that much moola on a kids dress and it had those cascading ruffles. Now, I can make her a dress for WAY less money. Thanks!

  42. Alexis says:

    You're my hero. You make everything look so easy and incredible at the same time.

  43. Natalie says:

    Are you kidding me!?! You made that shirt FROM SCRATCH!?! Holy cow, girl, you are AMAZING. It turned out SOOOO cute! Great job!

  44. mnoble says:

    Ooh…I've never sewn with knit but you have me thinking now. I have two knit shirts that I bought in different colors because I loved the shirt that have these big ruffles that cover/come out of the sleeve and go about half way down the side to form a kind of flowey detail that I love. I may now be able to figure out how to get a similar effect since I've about worn out both shirts.

  45. Julie says:

    Thanks for another great tutorial! The first project I tried with a knit was the yoga wasteband skirt you posted a while back. It turned out pretty welll. I've never made a shirt though…so, hmmmm. Soon though, soon.

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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