Row and Rows of Ruffles Tutorial

When it comes to adding ruffles to your knits, the possibilities are absolutely endless. The methods described here are simple techniques that anyone can learn. You can tweak just a few stitches, add a single stripe, or work in a new yarn and you have a totally new look.

This tutorial will show you a few easy methods, each resulting with a slightly different look. You can make single ruffles, or get a little daring and add layers of them. Use them as an embellishment, or incorporate them into a simple scarflette to create a look that’s uniquely yours. 
The Basic Ruffle
This ruffle is worked in stockinette stitch, requiring simple K2tog and P2tog decreases over two rows of your work. You would cast on 4 times the number of stitches required. In the example below, we’ve chosen to cast on 80 sts, so we can arrive at 20 stitches, which would make a pretty edging for a scarf.
Single Basic Ruffle:
Cast on 80 sts; then work in St st to your desired length.
Next row: (RS) K2tog across.
Next row: P2tog across.
Single basic ruffle
To make a double ruffle, you would work the basic ruffle above, and then work two additional rows in St st. Leave the work on needle and place aside. With a new needle, work a new basic ruffle; then work in St st for 8 more rows. With right sides facing, place the needle holding the shorter ruffle on top of the needle holding the longer ruffle as shown in the photo below. Knit the first stitch of each needle together. Repeat across row.
Working two ruffles together with a third needle.
Completed double ruffle.
And with a little imagination, you can add some rows of color and work in K2, P2 ribbing, and add another layer of ruffles as in the example below.
Two-color ruffle with ribbing.
Another variation: work the first few rows of your ruffle in garter stitch; knit every row and then finish off in stockinette stitch. If you decide to make your ruffle into a scarf, just keep on knitting every row in garter stitch to echo the edging.
Basic Frill
Very similar to the Single Basic Ruffle but with a slightly different look, the Basic Frill is achieved by working the decreases in a slightly different manner. Below are instructions for working a single frill and an example of working a double frill to add layers of luxurious ruffles.
Single Frill:
Cast on 4 times the finished number of sts required.
Row 1: (RS) * K2, lift 2nd st over first st and off right-hand needle, rep from * to end.
Row 2: *P2tog, rep from * to end.
Double Frill:
Cast on 4 times the finished number of sts required. Three knitting needles are required.
Work the single frill, followed by two rows of St st. Leave the work on needle, and place aside. With a new needle, work a new frill. Then, work in St st for 8 more rows. With right sides facing, place the needle holding the shorter frill on top of the needle holding the longer frill. Knit the first stitch of each needle together. Repeat across row.
The example below is one of my new scarflette designs in the works, made using the frill method. My chosen yarn was Universal Swiss Mohair in color sky. Click here to order this yarn. I decided to knit this piece with two strands held together to give more body to this little scaflette.
Scarflette with three layers of frills.
Short Row Welted Ruffle
Don’t let the words “short row” scare you! I promise: no picking up wraps on this easy technique. Instead of working the width of the ruffle, this method works lengthwise, and you simply work the ruffle as long as desired.
Short Row Welted Ruffle:
Cast on 9 sts.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: P6 and turn, k6.
Row 3: P6, k3.
Row 4: K3, p6.
Row 5: K6 and turn, p6.
Row 6: Knit.
Repeat these 6 rows for your desired length.
Short-row welted ruffle.
You can add a lot of variety to this technique by making multiple welted ruffles in varying stitch counts, and then sew them together as shown in these examples below.
Layers of short-row ruffles.
Variation of short-row welted ruffle.

Hopefully this gives you a little taste of the multitude of looks that you can create by playing around with some basic ruffles. Don’t be afraid to pick up those needles and start swatching!

30 Responses to Row and Rows of Ruffles Tutorial

  1. Debra Evans says:

    Thank you for this lovely tutorial. I always wondered how you made ruffles :-)

  2. Kara Gott Warner says:

    Hi Debra,
    I'm glad I could enlighten you! I hope you have fun!
    Kara

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is almost exactly what I have been searching for for the last 24 hours! [evidently with the wrong search terms]. I have a swatch of knitted fabric I’d love to be able to show you [ I have scanned pictures of it], in the hope that you might be able to tell me how it's been done. The ruffles are worked in with the main body of the piece, and on the back, the purl side, the back of each ruffle has its own little furrow, like the back of ribbed knitting has those furrows. And to either side of the furrow are the loops of the purl stitch in the ruffle coloured wool. I need to copy this swatch, and i've already made the bottom ruffle decreasing to one panel of background or main body. Next, I need to know how to work the next ruffle into the top of my most recent row of background, in such a way that it looks like the sample i've got. I tried it myself by knitting off the two needles as you have shown, but the resultant ruffle had no furrow of its own at the purl side or back of the piece, and it behaved with too much of a nap. It was too strongly attached to lie pointing only one way; the ruffle on my sample is loose and free to flip up and down. If I turned to piece the other way, the ruffles would hang just as nicely.
    Could you put some pictures, close up, of the backs of each of these samples you've made? Then I might know which one resembles mine and, therefore, which of your methods to follow.

  4. Diana says:

    I want to put a fluted ruffle on a glove. Now, thanks to you, I have an idea of how to do it.

  5. Michelle says:

    How would I get a ruffle at both ends of a scarf?

  6. Carmen Iglesias says:

    Thank you so much. Always is better to see the results in the pictures that you show. I loved to see all the variations with ruffles.

  7. Carmen Iglesias says:

    I love this tutorial, it is easier when you can see the pictures. Thank you so much.

  8. Carmen Iglesias says:

    Thank you very much for this tutorial. It is easier when you can see the pictures.

  9. Pamela Dorman says:

    Thank you very much, this will be a great help.

  10. Diane says:

    I have already knit the scarf and would like to add a ruffle. Should I just pick up stitches and increase for a specific number of rows or should I do ruffle(s) separately and attach? If I do separately what’s the best way to attach?

  11. Carol Dunn says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful Technique*

  12. sybil wertheim says:

    Hi, I want to put ruffles on an apron strap for a doll’s apron. it’s done in garter, and I made a ruffle but I really want a looser scallopy wide ruffle, like seen in old movies that the French maid wore. It stands out from the strap, kind of exaggerated. Is this a short row ruffle – I can’t figure out how to do it in a smaller ruffle!
    Can you help me?
    ps: I can do a top down ruffle but its tighter and less scallops. I’m using a #2 needle in garter for the apron but went to a #4 for the ruffle.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Sybil,

      If you are doing a short row ruffle and want to make it shorter, (like the one in this post) you need to do a little math. Just reduce the number of cast on stitches and play the number of stitches you work until you turn. The bottom line is, it’s all about experimentation! You may work a few rows and think your ruffle is too short or not short enough and that’s OK. Just get comfortable with trying a few new things to see what works best.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  13. Angie says:

    Thanks so much for this pattern, but how do I incorporate this to a toddlers ruffled skirt?

    • Kara says:

      Hi Angie,
      The easiest approach would be to make the ruffle separately and then sew to the edge of your skirt.

      As noted above, this ruffle is worked in stockinette stitch, requiring simple K2tog and P2tog decreases over two rows. You would cast on 4 times the number of stitches required.

      For example, let’s say you bound off 40 stitches for your skirt. Then you need to do some math: 40 x 4 = Cast on 160 sts, which will give you 40 bind off stitches to match the width of your skirt.

      Single Basic Ruffle:
      Cast on XX sts; then work in St st to your desired length.
      Next row: (RS) K2tog across.
      Next row: P2tog across.
      Bind off.

      I hope this helps!

  14. Mary Lee Garrison says:

    There is one problem with these instructions. If you are creating rows of stockinette ruffles you do NOT want to join them with right sides facing (i.e., toward each other) or you will have one stockinette ruffle & one reverse stockinette ruffle. You need to join the two rows of ruffles with both sides facing UP or towards you.

    • Kara says:

      That’s a really good point Mary Lee. The instructions are correct– you of course just need to make sure you are joining them with the right sides facing. These instructions are very general since all patterns are different. It’s all about experimentation!

  15. Amy says:

    What yarn did you use for that pink, green, and white ruffle?

    • Kara says:

      Hi Amy,
      These yarns were from my stash…sorry to say I can’t recall all of them, but I can share a few:

      1. The two-color ruffle with ribbing yarns are: Berroco Weekend Worsted
      2. Basic Frill: Universal Mohair
      3. Variation of short-row welted ruffle- in Be Sweet Spice, which unfortunately is discontinued.

      I hope this info helps!

  16. Amy says:

    Also, I’m more than a little confused, honestly, as badly as I want to try the technique to make my own lovely scarf: Your first example indicates that we’re supposed to knit the length of the scarf, and then work the ruffle onto the opposite end. Obviously that only gives us one ruffled end. Is there not a way to create a ruffle on one end, then knit the scarf to desired length, finishing it by knitting a ruffle into the opposite end?

    I appreciate this tutorial, but it seems like some basic knowledge is already assumed on the part of your readers.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Amy,

      Sorry to confuse you! This post is my way of showing you how to work a few different ruffle techniques. It’s my way of showing you the different possibilities so you can explore on your own.

      The easy way to do add ruffles to both ends would be to make your scarf without the ruffles, then work your ruffle sections separately, then sew them to each end. A more detailed version, which goes beyond the scope of this tutorial would involve increasing the ruffle on the opposite end as opposed to decreasing as I explain in the basic ruffle for example.

  17. Vickie says:

    Thank you for your tutorial on the Row and Rows of Ruffles. I am a relatively new knitter and I appreciate the explanations. Keep up the great work!

  18. Lucie says:

    Thanks for your very interesting share !

  19. Noreen says:

    I would like to have the ribbing row/bottom of a sweater look like the Short Row Welted Ruffle, the only problem is the sweater is knit from the top down. Is there anyway to do that with a top down sweater?

    • Kara says:

      Hi Noreen,
      Interesting question! Since the short row ruffle in this example is knitted lengthwise, you would have to make the ruffle separately and sew it onto the bottom of your sweater.

      Hope this helps!
      Kara

      • Linda Kilgore says:

        i am also making a top down shirt and want to add a ruffled hem. Rather than sew on the ruffled piece, i could do a 3 needle bind off joining the top to the ruffle(s)…yes?

        my hope was to find a way to add a ruffle to the live stitches, but if the 3 needle bind off works then that is good too.

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