Ruffled Wrap from Improv Sewing

on August 15 | in Products, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 68 Comments

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks!

Nicole Blum from One Golden Apple is back! Nicole also posts regularly at Improv Diary, the site she shares with Debra Immergut, co-author of their recent (and fabulous) Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fearless Projects. Nicole shared the lovely Reverse-AppliquΓ© Skirt and this fabulous Hooded Tunic Tutorial with us this year. The skirt, hooded tunic and today’s ruffled wrap give you a great look at the style and approach to the many quality projects in Improv Sewing. Nicole and Debra give you the confidence you need to create an entire wardrobe, complete with beautiful accessories (plus home decor items + furnishings); the projects are easy, flattering and the clear instruction makes each effort a success. Just what you want out of a sewing book, right?!

Enjoy today’s free Ruffled Wrap tutorial from Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fearless Projects and comment below to win a free copy of the book! Tell us how you improvise when you sew (or not!), or tell us how much you love the projects in Improv Sewing

The uneven hemline of this sophisticated little number looks lovely when the front is left open, and adds interest to a plain top or dress when it is tied at the waist.

The simple ruffle is left with a raw edge for a more laid-back touch.

What You’ll Need:

  • Torso pattern piece to trace
  • 1 yard 58/60″-wide jersey fabric
  • 1 spool of coordinating thread

Make your Torso Pattern Piece:
Cut a sheet of kraft paper, or the plain side of wrapping paper, a few inches larger all around than each of the two pieces — you can also cut open and flatten a paper grocery bag or two. Iron the paper gently to remove any creases. To make the torso pattern piece, fold the front panel of your original shirt* in half lengthwise and align the fold with the edge of the paper. Pat out any wrinkles until the panel is flat and aligned. Trace around it, adding Β½” for the seam allowance along the armhole, shoulder, and side (don’t add seam allowance to the neckline, since it will be finished in a variety of ways). Cut along the marked lines with paper scissors, and label the edges “center” and “side seam” to help you remember which is the pattern piece’s center line and which is the side seam.

* Your original shirt is a shirt that fits you well, used to trace your new pattern.

Tip: If you’re an experienced sewist and know a lot about shirt construction, you can probably make the pattern just by tracing the shirt carefully rather than cutting it apart; if so, go for it.

To make the sleeve pattern piece, fold the original sleeve piece in half lengthwise and align the fold along one edge of the paper. Trace around it, adding Β½” for the seam allowance along the cap (the bell-shaped curve along the top edge of the sleeve) and down the length of the sleeve. Cut along the marked lines with paper scissors, and label the pattern piece along the sides with the words “seam” and “fold.” Note the sleeve style (short, cap, long, and so on) directly on the pattern too, since you may accumulate a bunch of sleeve patterns.

Create the Ruffled Wrap:
1. Measure, mark, and cut the back panel: Lay the fabric right side up with the straight grain running vertically. Fold one edge toward the center so that you can fit the panel pattern piece positioned along the fabric fold.

Trace the pattern piece onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut along the marked lines through both layers of fabric. Don’t cut through the fold, because that’s the center of the back panel. Simply unfold your fabric after cutting and it’s ready to go.2. Measure, mark, and cut two front panels.

Fold the remaining fabric in half with the right sides together and position the panel pattern piece so the side seam is close to, but not on, the fabric fold. This will allow for ample room to draw a new shape for the center opening.

Trace the shoulder line, the armholes, and the side seam. To make the swooping design line of the front, mark a point on the fabric 5″ from the bottom of the pattern piece and 7″ to the right of the original center line as shown. Use a French curve or your eye to draw lines to connect this mark with the side and shoulder seams as shown. Cut along the lines through both layers of fabric.

3. Assemble the wrap: With the right sides together, pin the back to the two front pieces so the shoulder and sides are aligned. Using a straight stretch stitch, sew a 1/2″ seam at the shoulders and sides.

4. Add the ruffles: Fold the remaining yardage in half with the straight grain running vertically and the right sides together. Cut two 1″-wide strips from fabric edge to fabric edge across the grain.

Baste 1/4″ from one long edge of each strip. On each strip, grasp the top thread and gently slide the fabric along the thread to make loose gathers.

Pin a ruffled strip along each edge of the front panel so that the panel overlaps the ruffle’s sewn edge by 1/4″, extending the ruffles as desired to fit the front edge. From the right side of the panel, topstitch with a straight stitch about 1/8″ from the edge. This leaves the front panel’s raw edges exposed to add even more fullness and texture.

Cutting Tip: Don’t worry if your lines aren’t perfect. As long as the curves are gradual and gentle, the end result will be just fine.

Stitching Tip: When you’re done stitching the seams, snip the corners of the seam allowances so they don’t show.

Excerpted from Improv Sewing, copyright Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut with illustration by Ryan McMenamy. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Pin It

Related Posts

68 Responses to Ruffled Wrap from Improv Sewing

  1. Janet says:

    I just happened to run across your website and am sooo excited!! Now I don’t want to get up from the computer!! I want to get started on halloween costumes for grandbabies and make some Barbie doll clothes!!! I am going to attempt using some barbie clothes I have already to use as patterns. Wish me luck!! πŸ˜‰

  2. Melissa Nowlan says:

    I improvise my quilts all the time; blending patterns or just wanting to try out something new, sometimes it works and other times I improvise on my mistakes LOL.

  3. Jane says:

    I like to sew like this for clothing, but try to be conventional for patchwork. It looks like a terrific book!

  4. Stephanie C says:

    I try not to improvise that much, but when I do, its for things that are because I am still new to sewing and I dont know how to do certain things yet.

  5. Lucy Schramm says:

    I improvise maybe too much – not always with the best results! I would love this book.

  6. Nyla-Jean says:

    My daughters and I improvise at sewing all the time. It’s so nice to put your own stamp on things! The book looks amazing!

  7. LM says:

    I’m a just beginning sewing, so I don’t yet improvise.

  8. Hettie says:

    I improvise on little girls clothes, but have just started sewing grown-up things, so I stick to the pattern. Neat looking book.

  9. Dandi D says:

    I’ve just recently started sewing and it’d be great to have some easy projects!

  10. sangeetha says:


  11. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous, thankyou. I have just ordered this book :

  12. Jem-FL says:

    Yes, I always look to see what I can change on a pattern!
    Some work some don’t, always learn something!

  13. Karen says:

    I often improvise when sewing a commercial pattern, changing things up a little, either by choice or when it doesn’t turn out quite right. The end result almost always seems to work!

  14. Tanja says:

    I started sewing less than a year ago….and often I find myself at a point where I don’t understand the instructions anymore..or there were no instructions to begin…then…I just try to “wing” it to “sew” myself out of my corner πŸ™‚ Thanks πŸ™‚ Have fun!

  15. Ramona says:

    I improvise a little but could really uses some insight to do more. would love to win this book.

  16. Marty L says:

    What a fun looking wrap!

  17. Beezus says:

    This is just the thing to wear over a t-shirt to dress it up. Perfect! I’ve only recently started to improvise, mostly in bags and that sort of thing. I just decided that if I mess something up, I’ll try again rather than worry about wasting fabric and notions.

  18. Gunilla says:

    Think I improvised more when I was sewing as a teenager. I am trying to get back to that more nowadays… The book seems to inspire!

  19. MollyP says:

    Fabulous! I improv a lot when I garment sew. I usually have to plan a quilt, but occasionally I’ll let my hair down. Thanks!

  20. Veronica says:

    I love this book! I’d really love to win it. Sometimes I improvise if things aren’t going the way I planned and sometimes things turn out better than I envisioned.

  21. M says:

    I improvise most of the times to make my projects look cuter:) well i sure hope they become cute after the improvisations!

  22. becky says:

    i checked this book out from the library and i love it sooooo much i must have my very own copy!!!! amazing book!!

  23. Debbie H says:

    I’m jist a beginner so I haven’t improvsed anything yet, so I need this book!

  24. Vera says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. My daughter and I get clothing from thrift stores to redesign/recycle…Would love this book for her.

  25. christina says:

    Wow. This is interesting. I NEVER improvise. I really need to learn to take some risks!

  26. Leena says:

    Love the ruffles. Hope I win the book.

  27. Margy says:

    When you’re 5’3″ everything has to be improvised. I need to shorten every pattern and when your husband is 6’3″, I need to lengthen everything. I also have to improvise on my Singer. I have tenosynovitis in my hands so gripping is hard (and sewing sometimes) but I wrap a rubberband around the handwheel so I can get a better grip. The list can go on ….

  28. Ashley says:

    I improvise here and there. Some times it works and sometimes it is a hot mess. LOL Live and learn though, eh. πŸ™‚ This book looks lik eit could improve my improvising skilss. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for a chance to win!!

  29. Vicki says:

    I totally improvise! I’m all about making things easy on yourself. However, sometimes you just can’t skimp on details, and pays off in the long run.

  30. Penny says:

    I checked this book out of the library once and was very sad to have to return it. It’s a great would, I’d love to own it.

  31. Kay says:

    I love the ruffles on the wrap. I am sure this book will do wonders for my sewing, it just looks fun. I always like to change a little something when I sew so whatever I make is not the same as anybody eles’, it could be a different colour or add an embellishment.

  32. wendy says:

    I generally start following a pattern, then I mess it up and have to improvise!

  33. MelodyJ says:

    I love that this book is showing us to sew creatively.


  34. Natalie says:

    I love it! You are helping sewers evolve from cautious to creative and within a short time have something new & fun to show for it. Now that’s powerful! πŸ™‚

  35. I like to use a pattern as a guide, following the basic techniques but sometimes tweaking the project to make it the way I want it to be!

  36. jen says:

    i improvise in that I usually adjust the patterns slightly as I go.. or add details.

  37. BarbaraC says:

    Oh, I am too scared to improv much yet…just learning!

  38. Ginger says:

    What a neat idea to add something extra to an outfit.

  39. kathyh says:

    I constantly improvise when I sew. From badly written directions to having a bee in my inspirational bonnet, following directions is not my thing.
    I just placed this book in my library queue, it looks very interesting.

  40. Hueisei says:

    Thanks for the clear instructions.

  41. Deanna says:

    I improv in refashions more than anything–just going with the flow of the existing fabric.

  42. I can only improvise on something that I’m already confident with. When sewing a bag ,for example, I can manipulate the pattern to my liking easily and improvise all I want.
    But with clothes I’m a novice. I need tips and at least basic instructions to get the job done.

    Great give-away!

  43. Jill A says:

    Yeah, I’m not skilled enough yet to improvise.

  44. Stephanie Wehrman says:

    I am not at the point where I improvise much! Still learning the basics!

  45. Cindy G. says:

    I tend to improvise in my sewing by making my own patterns for non-clothing items. For some reason, modifying a pattern for clothes terrifies me, even if it’s something simple like changing the shape (or length) of a hem. I need a little push to get me to try it, and this book could be thing that makes me more comfortable so I can either A) dare to modify a pattern, or B) make my own pattern (because right now, even using an existing shirt to make a pattern frightens me!).

  46. Taysha Riggs says:

    Would love to win!!!

  47. Heidi Anderson says:

    wow, what a great tutorial. I like to improvise with simple projects. I think it helps me learn as I go and be more creative. Thanks for the great give away. I am excited to explore this book!

  48. Christine M says:

    The wrap is lovely. If I don’t have something, I’ll improvise with something else to get the job done.

  49. Amy says:

    I try to use what supplies I have on hand, so that sometimes means improvising when I run out or don’t have the exact thing.

  50. Mama Rachael says:

    I improvise often. About have the time it works out, the other half… well, I have a few half finished UFOs that weren’t going where I wanted them to (started out as improvised projects). Looks like a ton of fun, and I might have to try the wrap!

  51. Faye Nettles says:

    I love a challange. That is why I need this book!

  52. lynaeve says:

    I usually mess up on tutorials, and realize it way later, then I have to figure out my own way of doing it.

  53. cliodana says:

    wow beautiful book and great tutorial. thank’s. usully follow pattern but always improvise when i create a new things with my pencil and note journal

  54. ~Heather says:

    I just got this book out from the library and would love to own a copy – there are too many beautiful things in there to try before it’s due back!

  55. Eva Kasapi says:


  56. Erin Palmer says:

    Very Cute!

  57. Seanna Lea says:

    I haven’t done any improvisation since I made a pillow last year. Other than that, it was college and a lack of marking implements that led to improvisation. I’ve never done it just to try.

  58. Serena says:

    Very cute! I love long layers.

  59. Genevieve says:

    I improvise with piecing my quilts but I’d love to try more with clothing. The book looks great!

    Love the tutorial as well! Thanks!!

  60. Norma says:

    I improvise by combining patterns to create something else. Thanks for chance to win.

  61. April Bryant says:

    This looks lovely!! Would love the chance to win. Usually my improvisational end up because I am out of something.

  62. Liz says:


  63. Catherine Eddleman says:

    I constantly improvise when I sew. I always start with an idea, but in one way or another it turns into I either don’t have a particular item or I just get impatient. =)So I just go with it and try something that I think might work. lol Results vary… This book looks like an absolute find! I hope that I win this fantastic give-away, but this little gem of a book is going on my wishlist just in case.

  64. Diana says:

    Great ideas! I’m always looking for projects such as these. Thank you for the chance to win!

  65. Christy Coy says:

    I’m still a bit afraid to improvise. That is why I really need this book!! I need to be set free! πŸ™‚

  66. carole says:

    Excellent tutorial!

  67. Jerri says:

    I borrowed this book from the library and I love it. What I have been doing lately is trace my own pattern from ready made cloths. This book further encourages it. I found tracing patterns from cloths already made has saved me so much time and money. And inspires more creativity…love it

  68. Kristin says:

    I improvise all the time. If I’m sewing something and I see a better way to do it I’ll take the shortcut πŸ™‚

« »

Subscribe to the newsletter

Sewing inspiration, projects, events and offers delivered conveniently to your email.


Get the latest news via