Sewing Tutorial: Faux-Ruched Headband

4 Jan

What is a ruche, really? A seamstress once told me that ruching is always done with elastic, either sewing with elastic thread or by sewing in elastic to create a gather. Is this correct? I really don’t know. I own no elastic thread to speak of and am really not fond of sewing with elastic, but I wanted to create the illusion of a fancy, ruched headband. This piece is made, quite simply, with two long gathers. But ‘faux-ruched’ sounds way cooler than ‘gathered’, (you know, being French and all), doesn’t it?


For this tutorial I’ve tried to combine images so that this doesn’t seem like such a lengthy process because it’s really not. You should be able to whip a couple of these out in just 30 minutes. If you need to see any of the images larger you can click on them and it will pull it up in flickr where you can zoom in.

fabric scrap, at least 24″x1 1/2″
bias tape, about 1 1/2 yds of 1/2″ single fold would be best
thread, scissors, iron, etc.


Cut a strip of fabric about 1.5″ wide by a suitable length of your choosing. The best way to determine how long this should be is by measuring your own head in the area the headband would sit. I’m making this for my daughter whose head measures a little over 19″. I added some inches to account for the gathers and cut my strip 24″ long. It’s fine to cut it as short as 18″ (even for an adult head), it just means you will have to cut more length for the ties in the back. After cutting this strip, press it in half lengthwise, but this is only really necessary for the tips, about 6″ or so.


Now you’re going to cut a diagonal so that the ends of your headband come to a point, but it’s best if it’s not too pointy. I held my ruler so that it was about 1/8″ from the fold near the ends and at a diagonal to about 5″ from the ends. (Excuse the green glow, but I wanted to be sure you could see the text in the photo.) Be sure that you are not cutting off the fold and that it remains intact. You’re cutting the other side. When you’ve cut both ends it should look like the image on the right. At this point you can press the ends flat again or just start sewing.


When making gathers, you should turn the tension knob or dial on your machine all the way to one end or the other. I generally set mine at zero. This isn’t necessary, but it will make pulling the gathers a lot easier.


Starting and finishing 5″ from the end, sew a gather on each side. I made mine at 1/8″ because of the width of my bias tape and if you are using 1/2″ single-fold you should sew yours at 1/8″ too. If you want the fabric gathered the entire length of the strip, you can do that too.


When you’ve sewn a gather on each side, BE SURE YOU RESET THE TENSION DIAL ON YOUR MACHINE! Or you’ll be ripping stitches and cursing.


Start gathering the fabric. It might be hard to see, but I put a pin halfway lengthwise so I could fold it in half and check that it was gathered the same on both sides. The bottom image is what yours should look like. Did you reset your tension dial? Better double check.


Now you’re going to start sewing bias tape onto one side of the headband. I’ve gotten out of the habit of pinning things as you will see in my photos, but that’s really just because I needed to break the habit of putting pins in my mouth. I read somewhere that a lady inhaled a pin and it punctured her lung. I don’t know if it’s true, but it scared me a little and I’ve decided I should try not to put pins in my mouth. Apparently, it didn’t scare me enough to stop doing it because I still catch myself cramming three or four in just before I need to use them. So if I don’t pin, they don’t end up there. Simple. Your tape should overhang the end just a little (it will get snipped off later, but you don’t want to accidentally sew it just short of the end). My seam here was 1/4″.


Flip the headband over and now you’re going to sew the reverse side of the bias tape. All of these photos are just to show you my fold, hold and feed method but you could alternately pin the tape in place and sew with either side face up.


Now you’re going to sew bias tape to the other side of the headband but you will need to add some tape to make a tie. For this particular headband, I started 10″ from the end of my bias tape and started sewing to the tip of the headband. If you’re looking at the photo on the left, imagine 10″ of bias tape hanging from the top. You will sew this on like the first time, except you should hold/pin it at a slight angle so that a little triangle of the raw ends of bias and headband are to your right. You’ll see why later. You also need to do this at the end of the headband as the middle photo shows. Then cut your tape 10″ from the end of the headband.


This next photo shows you why I hold the tape at an angle. When you flip everything over and flatten the bias tape you can see that those raw ends will be neatly encased in the new piece of bias tape you are adding.


Those little ends should be trimmed before you start sewing the back side of the bias tape. Just cut so there is no overhang or you’ll end up with some bulk under the bias tape.


Before you start sewing, you need to fold the tips of the tie so that no raw edges will be seen when you’re finished. I do this but folding and finger-pressing down about 1/4″, then folding the sides in toward the middle, then folding in half. See how nice and neat it turns out? Repeat with the other end of the tie and sew this length of bias tape in place starting at the tip of one tie and ending at the other. Be sure you backstitch at both ends and that all of the raw edges are tucked in.


I’m still using my fold, hold and sew method.


Trim all of the excess thread and you’re done!


The wrong side of the fabric is visible on what would be the ‘inside’ of the headband, but this doesn’t matter. You could make the whole thing with another strip of fabric facing out so that the headband is reversible.


Tie it onto your sweetie (or yourself) and snap a few photos! This next photo shows the first headband I made and you can tell my daughter wasn’t too keen on being a model this day.


There are so many ways you can customize this headband. Make it reversible? Add a rosette? I would love to see what you’ve made, so please upload photos of your projects to the flickr photo group for this tutorial.

If you’re not a sewer (sewist?) or you don’t have the time to make your own, you can buy some in my shop! Visit Bebe Bijou Boutique on I encourage you to make your own to sell in your home-based business (but please notify me if you do). If you would like to share the tutorial please refer (or link) directly to this post. Thanks for looking!

Also, I’m new to the idea of link parties, but I’m trying to increase my fan-base. So I’ve linked up with this group:
five days five ways | because every day is different


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