Let’s Make A Gathered Dust Ruffle


Gathered Dust Ruffle Tutorial from Black Fox Homestead.com

…a detailed tutorial in 10 easy steps with lots of pictures including two of my dogs.

I’ve had my bed for 10 years.  I bought it before we were married, back when I was living in Honduras.  It is a solid wood sleigh bed hand made over there, and brought over here shortly after our wedding (a process much easier said than done).

It is an heirloom and a treasure but it has been without a dust ruffle from day 1.  Since we just moved , and I have taken to using underneath the bed for storage, I decided it was finally time for a fresh start.  It was time to make a dust ruffle.

Dust ruffles aren’t difficult, but you will need some basic sewing skills, and a basic sewing machine.  Use of a serger is optional.


This is Bingley.  This is what he does when I try to sew.

This is Bingley. This is what he does when I try to sew.

You will also need:

*Fabric both for the ruffle and the “deck”  (we’ll calculate the yardage in a minute)

*Thread to match

*Tape measure and small ruler

*Straight pins


*Iron and Ironing board

You will need to know how to: run a straight stitch on a sewing machine,  make gathers with a basting stitch,  measure using a fabric or retractable tape measure; and figure yardage, although that will be listed in detail below.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, here are a few terms that I use throughout the directions and what I mean by them:

Cut length: the length at which the fabric widths are cut including the extra amount needed for a hem and seam allowance.

Deck: the fabric to which the ruffle is sewn.  It is that part that is sandwiched in between the mattress and box springs; typically made of muslin or other inexpensive fabric.

Face fabric: the “pretty” fabric you are using for your dust ruffle.

Finished length: the finished length of the dust ruffle when all is said and done.

Finished width: the width of the dust ruffle when all is said and done.

Fullness: amount of gathers desired.  It can be anywhere from 1 1/2 times the finished width to 3 times.

Working width: the width of the fabric that includes the fullness ~ basically the width before it has been gathered.

Let’s get started!

1. Figure your yardage

If you have not figured yardage for a project like this before, it can be a bit tricky, but stick with me.  Once you get the hang of it, it isn’t too difficult.  I will start by giving the very basic formula.  If you know how to do this sort of thing,  you can take that and skip on down to step 2.  If you aren’t comfortable read on, and I will walk you through the formula step by step using my queen sized bed as an example.

Formula for figuring yardage for  three sided dust ruffle:

*Length of the bed(x2) + width  of the bed x desired fullness = working width

*Working width/fabric width = number of fabric widths you will need to cut

*Finished length + 2″ hem + 1/2″ seam allowance = cut length

*Number of fabric widths x cut length/ 36 = yardage

That will give you the yardage for the ruffle.  Add to that:

* Enough face fabric equal to the length of the bed + 2 1/2″ for hem and seam allowance/36″   (this is for a band that will run around the edge of the deck)

* 90″ muslin or lining equal to the length of the bed + 2 1/2″ for hem and seam allowance/36″   for the deck.

Alrighty then.  If you have it, move on to step 2.  If  you still need some help here’s some further detail:

*Determine the number of fabric widths needed.  Unless you have a custom made bed, mattress sizes are standard.  You can google this information or, if you want, measure the length and width of your bed.   I prefer to work with in smaller increments, figuring the widths needed for the side; and then the widths needed for the foot.

I have a queen size bed and the standard sizes for a queen size mattress are 60″ x 80″.  Because I don’t really want a frou-frou look with lots of gathers, I’m just going to go with a fullness of  2x; but you can choose whatever you’d like.  So take 80″ and multiply it by 2 = 160″.  Now we’re going to divide that by our fabric width.  I chose a cotton quilting fabric that was about 44″ wide.   160/44 = 3.6;  I rounded it down to 3. I rounded down because again, I want fewer gathers.   Three widths are needed for each side of the dust ruffle.  The foot is figured the same way.  60″x2 =120  120/44 = 2.7 ; I rounded it down to 2.    The total number of widths needed for my dust ruffle then are 8; three for each side, and two for the foot.

*Determine your finished length.  The finished length simply refers to the length you want the ruffle to be.  Just take  your tape measure and measure from the top of your box springs to where you want the hem to hit.  I like everything to look crisp and clean, so I had mine hit just 1″ off the floor.  My finished length was 15″.

*Determine your cut length.  Your cut length is the length at which you are going to cut each one of those widths.  In order to figure it, we’re going to take the finished length, and add enough extra for the hem and a seam allowance.  To give this a nice professional look, I recommend using a 1″ double hem, I also use 1/2″ seam allowance when joining it to the deck.  The cut length then is 15″ (finished length) + 2″ double hem + 1/2″ = 17 1/2 “.  Each width will be cut at 17 1/2″.

Note: When I operated a professional window treatment workroom extra yardage would be added here for matching patterns.  To keep this project simple and straightforward I am eliminating that step.  I hope the reader will forgive me.

Lydia says "Hang in there!"

Lydia says “Hang in there!”

*Multiply the cut length by the number of widths then divide by 36″ to get the number of yards needed.  We have 8 widths, we’re cutting them each at 17 1/2.  8 x 17 1/2 =  140/36 =  3.8 round that up to 4 yards.  But we’re not quite finished…

Again, in order to get a nice professional result we’re going to run a band of face fabric around the outer edge of the “deck”.   In the event that the ruffle should slip, this will eliminate a jarring effect caused by the deck peeping out from the mattress.  I recommend that this band be 4″ wide, and to that we’re adding 1/2″ seam allowance on both sides making that a total of 5″ wide.  The mattress is 80″ long.  We’re going to add 2″ for a double hem at the top, and 1/2″ seam allowance at the foot.  82 1/2″ / 36″ in a yard = 2.3 yards   An additional 2.3 yards is needed for three bands.  I didn’t forget about the 60″ at the foot of the bed but since your fabric is 44″ wide, you can easily cut 3, 5″ bands from 2.3 yards.

Are you still with me?  After figuring the yardage it is all pretty straightforward from here on out…

4  yards for the ruffle + 2.3 yards for the bands around the deck = 6.3 yards of face fabric.  This is the number you will take with you to the fabric store. If you want to order a little extra for wast and ravel allowance that would be wise.   While you are there, look for muslin that is 90″ wide.  This is what you will use for the deck.  It shouldn’t be too expensive, and a wide fabric will eliminate the  need for seams.  Again, since the bed is 80″ long, add 2″ for a double hem at the head of the bed, 1/2″ seam allowance at the foot of the bed = 82 1/2″.  This equals 2.3 yards.  You will need 2.3 yards of 90″ wide muslin for the deck. If no 90″ wide fabric is available, you will need twice that amount to piece together the deck.

2. Prepare your fabric for sewing.

If  you wish to pre-wash your fabric, now would be the time.  After washing, iron it well as wrinkles will prevent an accurate cut.  Now you will need to straighten the grain.  If this is new to  you: make a clip at the selvedge edge.  Pull a single thread to create a snag across the width.  Cut along the snag.  You now have a nice, straight edge.  From this edge you will cut your fabric.

3. Cut your fabric

All of it.  The fabric for the ruffle, the bands, and the deck, using the cut measurements taken in step 1.

4. Sew the widths together

You will have three separate pieces.  Two for the sides, and one for the foot, so remember to keep track of how many widths you have going down the side, and how many you have going across the foot of the bed.   Sew with right sides together, using  1/2″ seam allowance.  If you have a serger, serge the edges.  Press all seam allowances to one side.

Press seam allowance to side

Press seam allowance to side

5. Sew the side hems

On either side of each ruffle press and sew a 2″ double hem.  If you want to press 1″ up twice that is one way of doing it.  An easier way is to press 2″.  Open up the hem, and fold up 1″ making sure the raw edge meets your previous crease.  Press, and then fold and press again as shown in the photos.

Dust Ruffle Tutorial from Black Fox Homestead

Using a straight stitch, stitch as close to the fold as possible.

Stitch as close to the edge as possible

Stitch as close to the edge as possible

6. Sew the bottom hem

All along the bottom, in the same manner as the side hem.

Dust ruffle tutorial from Black Fox Homestead

7. Gather the ruffle

Run a basting stitch along the top raw edge of the dust ruffle.  Make sure to run it within the seam allowance so it doesn’t show later on.  I recommend breaking the stitching at the seams.  This will make it much easier to adjust the gathers later on when attaching to the deck.  Knot one end of the seam, and pull from the other to create the gathers.

8. Prepare the deck

If you haven’t already cut the deck as directed in step 3, do so now.  This would also be a good time to try it on the box springs to make sure you have measured correctly.  Remember however, that 2 1/2″  extra have been allowed for the hem and seam allowance.

Press  1/2″ seam allowance on one side of the band as shown:

Dust Ruffle Tutorial Black Fox Homestead

Pin to the deck, having the wrong side of the fabric, facing the right side of the deck and the raw edge of the band even with the raw edge of the deck.

Dust Ruffle Tutorial from Black Fox Homestead

At the bottom, where the side meets the foot of the bed, simply allow the ends of the band to overlap.  Stitch as close to the edge as possible.

Dust Ruffle Tutorial from Black Fox Homestead

Press and sew a 1″ double hem across the top of the deck in the same manner as the side and bottom hems.  If you wish, the bottom corners of the deck can be rounded to fit your mattress.  I simply used a cereal bowl  as a template and it worked just fine.

Dust Ruffle tutorial from Black Fox Homestead

9. Sew the ruffle to the deck

The easiest way to adjust the gathers is to divide each portion of the the deck into the same number of fabric widths used for each side of the dust ruffle.  For example, the side of my queen size bed required three widths, so I divided the deck into three equal parts and marked them with a pin.  Then I gathered and adjusted each width to fit.  This is why I recommend breaking the basting stitches at the seams.  It will make this step much easier and will go much more quickly.

With right sides together, pin each gathered ruffle to the sides of the deck.  At the center of each rounded corner, overlap the side hems, one over the other, the width of the hem .

Stitch, using 1/2″ seam allowance.  If you have a serger, serge the edge.

Stitch the ruffle to the deck using 1/2" seam allowance.  Serge to finish off raw edges if  you wish

Stitch the ruffle to the deck using 1/2″ seam allowance. Serge to finish off raw edges if you wish

10. Complete ruffle

If necessary (and it most likely is necessary at this point) press the ruffle and trim any loose threads; then have your husband, significant other, roomie, whomever help you remove the mattress and spread your finished product over the box springs.



Make your bed, and use this new addition to your room as incentive to clean up and dust, if  your room, like mine, tends to be neglected.

Then sit back and enjoy your lovely dust ruffle!


DIY Curtain Pattern Now Available!

If this tutorial was helpful to you and has sparked the desire to create something further, I’m happy to announce that today I’ve released the first in a series of curtain patterns available on Etsy!  This informal muslin swag would be perfect for a bedroom,bathroom, or kitchen, and is appropriate for any intermediate level seamstress.  The materials are easy to find and the project could be completed in a few short afternoons. 

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions concerning this tutorial please feel free to get in touch by leaving a comment or emailing me directly.




Find this post and others like it linked to: The Homestead Barn Hop, Homemade Mondays, Cowgirl Up, The Backyard Farming Connection, Teach Me Tuesday, Tutorials Tips and Tidbits, Favorite Things Blog Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, Back Yard Farming Connection Home Skills Link Up, Farm Girl Blog Fest, Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop, The Ole Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, The Creative Homeacre Hop, Creative Blog Hop, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Eat Make Grow, Tuesday Greens

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Let’s Make A Gathered Dust Ruffle — 22 Comments

  1. Jen- Did you do all the pictures, diagrams, etc.? They’re great! Looks like Southern Living.


  2. I haven’t seen a tutorial for a dust ruffle before, what a great find!! I’m visiting today from Thursday’s Favorite Things, and I am your latest follower. ;)

  3. Great tutorial. When doing big gathering I use string and zig zag stitch big over the string. Pulling the string will gather up the frill

  4. What a great tutorial and I really appreciate that it is so detailed because I plan to follow your tutorial to make my own. Love it Love it Love it! Thanks so much for linking up this week at “The Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post” blog hop!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Karen! Good luck with making your own and let me know how it turns out.

    • Mary for a queen size dust ruffle like this one my price would start at $150 plus shipping and materials.

  5. I love sewing! Finding easier ways to sew an amazing piece is a fun puzzle for me. When I make a bed skirt, I use a fitted bed sheet that will fit onto the box springs, sew Velcro tape to the fitted sheet just under the box springs piping (I pin the tape to the sheet while on the bed, then remove and sew.) I then create the skirt and sew the other part of the Velcro tape to the top of the skirt. This creates a base that doesn’t shift around nor need to come off (along with the mattress) to wash the skirt. Just pull off the skirt with its Velcro, toss into the wash, iron if needed, then zip it back onto the fitted sheet which was never removed. It can even dry on the bed! This is a life saver with kids and pets!