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Stylish Baby Nursery: Bloomin' Dust Ruffle

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A dust ruffle catches the eye and brings top-to-bottom cohesion to your nursery décor. It's as functional as it is decorative - especially when it hangs all the way to the floor. It does really help keep dust from beneath the crib, but it also allows for secret storage space. My daughter's crib came with a rolling storage trundle, and the dust ruffle keeps it stylishly hidden from view. Dust ruffles look especially cute with a softly gathered edge.

Gathering is fairly easy to do. In this project, you'll find instructions for how to do this with a straight stitch. You can also use a sewing machine attachment called a Ruffler foot or a Gathering foot. For more tips, read our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy.

Our sample was made for a baby girl's nursery, using the stunning Patty Young Andalucia collection. For information on where to buy, read Stylish Baby Nursery: Designing Bold Colors & Patterns. This article also includes suggestions for creating an alternate fabric palette that would work well for a boy's nursery.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Jem Gold 3)

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 7/8 yard 90" wide Muslin (for center platform of crib)
  • Fabric for 8 dust ruffle panels - 5¼ yards of 45” wide fabric: we used Patty Young's Andalucia in Fire Mod Blooms
  • All purpose thread
  • See through ruler or yardstick
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

You'll notice our fabric, Fire Mod Blooms, is directional, which means the pattern of the fabric runs in a specific direction. Because of this, we're going to cut the panels for our dust ruffles along the 45" edge of the fabric (so the bloom print will run up and down; cutting it in the other direction would make the bloom print run sideways ... not so pretty).

Our instructions use 90"wide muslin. When purchasing, pay attention to the writing on the side of the fabric bolt. There it will list the width of the fabric. Muslin comes in 36", 38", 44", 45", 90", 108" and 120" widths (there may even be more, I got tired at 120"). You can buy bleached and unbleached muslin in different thread counts and qualities. This fabric is going to sit under the mattress of the crib, and is just hold the ruffles in place, so buy the cheapest you find. In a lot of instances, the quality of the fabric is of importance, but this is not one of those instances.

Getting Started

In order to calculate the length of the dust ruffle, you'll need to measure your crib. We think it looks best when the ruffle reaches all the way to the floor. Most cribs have 4-5 height options, so you can adjust the height of the bars of the crib as your child gets older (ie., lower the mattress).

You can tackle these instructions with two options in mind. One, you can measure the distance of the bottom of the mattress to the floor from the lowest height setting and make the ruffle to this height. This way, the ruffle will never be too long. However, when the mattress is at its highest point, the ruffle will look kinda short and skimpy.

The second option is to measure the distance from the top-most setting, and then adjust the bottom hem (shorten it) as your child grows and you lower the mattress in the crib. If you're making a nursery for a brand new baby, we suggest going with this highest setting. This is where you set the crib for a newborn, and since you spend the most time showing off your nursery while you're pregnant or just after the baby is born, it will look the prettiest with a long, beautiful ruffle. Once you lower the settings, you'll probably have a toddler to chase around, so you'll be really tired and you won't worry so much about how the dust ruffle looks! You can just take a pair of pinking shears to it at that point.

Here's how to figure it out:

  1. Measure the length you would like for the dust ruffle: adjust your crib to your preferred height setting and measure from the bottom of the mattress to the floor. (You may want to create a pattern piece for testing a ruffle. To do this, you can purchase extra muslin for testing lengths (buy one more yard) or you can use a large piece of fabric you have in your stash. Take the pattern testing piece into the nursery, and test it at different lengths to the floor to see which you like best. Once you find a length you like, measure it, and then follow the steps below).
  2. Add 1" to this measurement for your top seam and hem allowances. For our sample, we wanted a finished length of 22", so our final length needed to be 23".
  3. Cut one panel to this height, cutting parallel to the 45" edge of the fabric. Repeat to cut a total of eight panels.
    Diagram
  4. Trim the muslin to create one piece that measures 54" x 29½". We will call this the 'platform piece' below. (This is the size of the center of the mattress platform. A platform size of 53" x 28½" is fairly standard, but you may want to measure your crib before you cut, just in case. You add 1" to the length and width measurements to account for seam allowances.)

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Note: all measurements listed below are for our sample.

Join side panels

  1. Each long side is made up of three panels. First sew two panels, right sides together and using a ½" seam, along the short sides (the 23" side). Then, sew the third panel to the end in the same manner. You now have one long strip that is 23" x 133". If your fabric is directional like ours, make sure you have everything going the right way before you stitch the panels together. It would be sad to have one panel upside down.
    Diagram
  2. Make the opposite side in the same manner.
  3. Your remaining two panels are for each end (the head and the foot of the crib).

Hem the edges of the ruffles

  1. For each of the FOUR Dust Ruffle panels, you need to finish the two sides and bottom edge with a simple double-turn hem. For each piece, turn under the right side of the fabric ¼" along ONE long edge. Press.
  2. Turn under all three edges again another ¼" and edgestitch all around to create your double-turn ¼" hemmed edges.
    Diagram

Create the gathers

  1. Set your sewing machine's straight stitch length to long. On my machine this is anywhere from 6 to 8.
  2. Locate one three-piece 133" side panel. Stitch along the top edge of the fabric ½" in from the edge (½" being the standard seam allowance for home dec). Leave at least 4" tails when you snip your top and bobbin thread. To make it easier to gather, we suggest making THREE gathering segments. Start and stop your stitching within each panel. Remember, do not back tack at the beginning or the end of your gathering stitch.
    Diagram
  3. Now, stitch another row about ¼" in from the same unfinished fabric edge. Again, leave long tails when you snip your thread. Again, stitch in three segments (no back-tacking). Now you have two parallel rows of a long straight stitch. (When gathering, we like to make two rows of gathering stitches in case one thread breaks.)
    Diagram
  4. For each panel segment, at the head of your stitching, tie the upper and lower threads together (by upper and lower, I mean the thread from the bobbin and the thread from the needle). This will keep your upper thread from pulling through.
  5. Then, at the end of your stitching, GENTLY tug on the two TOP threads. Your fabric will slide along these threads like a curtain on a curtain rod, forming ruffles. Gently pull and adjust the gathers as you go until the gathers are even and your panel is approximately 18". Tie a knot in your loose ends. After you're done with all three panels, your overall length should be 54" (down from the original 133").
    Diagram
  6. Repeat the steps above to finish the other 133" side panel, gathering it down to 54".
  7. The two end panels can be finished in exactly the same manner, but since they are only one panel each, you'll have just one segment of gathering along the top of each. You will be starting with a 45" wide panel and gathering it down to 29½".

Attach the ruffle

  1. Locate one 54" gathered side panel. If necessary, adjust the gathers again so they are evenly distributed across the top.
  2. With right sides together, pin this piece along one long (54") side of the 54" x 29½" muslin platform piece.
  3. Making sure to include the stitches used for gathering in the seam allowance, stitch in place.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 on the other long (54") side.
  5. Locate one 29½" gathered end panel. If necessary, adjust the gathers again so that they are evenly distributed across the top.
  6. With right sides together, pin this piece along one short (29½") side of the 54" x 29½" muslin platform piece.
  7. Making sure to include the stitches used for gathering in the seam allowance, stitch in place.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 on the other short (29½") side.
  9. Now it's all ready for the new crib - too bad getting the baby to put inside the crib wasn't this painless!

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Contributors
Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation: Aimee McGaffey 
Instructional Editing: Alison Newman

Other machines suitable for this project include the Singer Fashion Mate 7256 and the Viking E20.

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Comments (53)

Mari Mezzatesta said:
Mari Mezzatesta's picture

If anyone has a ruffler foot for there machine, its not the gathering foot its a large ruffler foot. viking sells them so does inspiria for singer and i am sure every other brand has them as well. but any way. I just used that to gather my fabric, i found that 138" of fabric and useing the setting on the ruffler foot for number 1 ( thats how many stitches the machine makes before it ruffles, so 1 is every stitch and theres a 6 and a 12) It ruffled it beautifully into a 59" long piece perfect size for the dust ruffle. 

RachelM said:
RachelM's picture

I'm trying to pull the thread to create the ruffles and the thread keeps breaking, do you have any suggestions to prevent this from happening?  I starting puling the thread on the sides where we left 4 inches of thread and then moving them to the center (resembling a wave),  but it's a large length to continue to keep pulling the thread.  

Sew Beautiful said:
Sew Beautiful's picture

Try using a zigzag stitch over a heavy thread being careful not to catch the heavy thread as you stitch across. Two rows will work but with heavy thread you may get by with just one row of gathering.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ RachelM - for super long lengths of ruffling, we usually have two suggestions:

One) use a ruffler foot: http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/accessories-we...

Two) Do your machine basting in segments rather than one long length. Start and stop your seam about every 10-12" (but don't lock the seam). Keep the start and end points close together and when the ruffles are in place, you'll never be able to tell you did it in sections.

Here's more about ruffles and gathers: http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/happy-holidays...

Lori said:
Lori's picture

Great tutorial! If I'm using a ruffler foot, is there a particular setting on it that I should use so the ruffle is equal to manually ruffling?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Lori - I don't know exactly which foot you are using or your machine make and model, and I'm not an expert on them all. We do have a tutorial on our favorite: the Ultimate Ruffler by Janome. If this is your foot or similar, perhaps this article will help. What's nice about gathers is that they are adjustable, so concentrate more on getting your panel gathered down to the proper width and then you can always slightly tighten or loosen them by pulling or releasing the threads. Here's the tutorial link: http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/accessories-we...

lJK said:
lJK's picture

This looks like great website.  Thanks for the sewing tips.  How do you make the dust ruffle adjust to the differing heights of the crib mattress?  You start out with the mattress pretty high, but then lower it as the child gets older.  What do you do with the dust ruffle?  Also

 

 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ IJK - we address that very subject in the Getting Starting section above.

IJK said:
IJK's picture

Thanks!  Sorry I missed it when I first read the instructions.  This looks great!

IJK said:
IJK's picture

Thanks!  Sorry I missed it when I first read the instructions.  This looks great!

Debbie said:
Debbie 's picture

I read all comments.  I am making this for my new grandaughter.  I understand how to make it but how do I attach it to the crib?  am I sewing it to a flat peice of material that would end up looking just like a normal bed ruffle that slides between the matress and the springs? or am I tying it to the railings?  I just can't seem to figure this part out.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Debbie - The steps you are looking for are in the Attach The Ruffle section. Yes, you are attaching the four pieces to what we call the "Muslin Platform Piece" then sliding this under the mattress, like a standard bed dust ruffle.

Attach the ruffle

  1. Locate one 54" gathered side panel. If necessary, adjust the gathers again so they are evenly distributed across the top.
  2. With right sides together, pin this piece along one long (54") side of the 54" x 29½" muslin platform piece.
  3. Making sure to include the stitches used for gathering in the seam allowance, stitch in place.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 on the other long (54") side.
  5. Locate one 29½" gathered end panel. If necessary, adjust the gathers again so that they are evenly distributed across the top.
  6. With right sides together, pin this piece along one short (29½") side of the 54" x 29½" muslin platform piece.
  7. Making sure to include the stitches used for gathering in the seam allowance, stitch in place.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 on the other short (29½") side.
Theresa Colbert said:
Theresa Colbert's picture

This is cute but I just would like to point out that according the American Academy of Pediatrics crib bumpers should not be used and are against "safe sleep" guidelines for reducing the risk of SIDS in babies.  It is recommended that soft objects or loose bedding should be kept out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads! Sorry but the nurse in me just had to speak up!  The dust ruffle is adorable and could safely be used it seems.

BTC said:
BTC's picture

I plan on making this Dust Ruffle for my daugther's nursey.  I was wondering if you are just ading 2 1/2 times the widith for the fabric to gather.  How are you coming up with the side panel widths.   Any assitance would be greatly appreciated.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ BTC - the key step in Getting Started is shown below. We wanted a soft gather and we wanted to make the best use of our fabric, so our gathers are a bit less than the standard 2 to 2-1/2 times rule of thumb ( times 53" in this case). If you'd prefer a denser gather, you can simply add more panels. 

A platform size of 53" x 28½" is fairly standard, but you may want to measure your crib before you cut, just in case. You add 1" to the length and width measurements to account for seam allowances.)

mawright said:
mawright's picture

This tutorial worked great. This was the most advanced sewing project I tackled for my baby's room and it was really a breeze. I worked on it three seperate days for a few hours at a time. If I had to do it again, the only thing I would change is that it a bit too bunched together. My fabiric design was wide horizantal stripes, so I think less gathering would have looked better, but it still looks great. My mother-in-law was impressed, and she is tough critic. 

Lauren A. said:
Lauren A.'s picture

I'm not familiar with edge stitching. Does it require a different presser foot? Or does the term simply refer to turning the corners? Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Lauren A - Edgestitching is a seam made very close to a folded edge, generally 1/4-1/8" or less. You don't have to have a specialty presser foot, but they do make them. In general, you can use a guide on your standard foot or a mark on your machines needle plate. 

Cheryl N said:
Cheryl N's picture

I am a little short on fabric to match the baby quilt so I was wondering if we could only make 3 sides since one is always against the wall?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Cheryl N -- you know what's the coolest thing about sewing things for yourself? You can do whatever you want. If you only want to make three sides, then you should. I won't tell a soul!

Donna Lea said:
Donna Lea's picture

One question.  When you sew the pieces on (leaving the corners open) do you overlap the shorter pieces over the longer pieces at the corners?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Donna Lea - you hold the power in the length with your gathering, so your pieces should simply meet at the corners. However, if you are having trouble, don't stress. Just do what you need to do to get them in place. You can also futz a bit with the drape of the corners once it is in place under the mattress. You really don't see the corners much becuase of the crib frame.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Knotty Chic - We don't usually include a "length of time to finish" estimate unless the project is a super fast and easy one. There are so many variables in skill level and with machine features that can make things go more slowly or more quickly. I would consider this a project that could be done in an afternoon. The hardest part is that you are working with rather large pieces of fabric, which can make things go more slowly. Have fun!
Knotty Chic said:
Knotty Chic's picture
Hello! How long would you estimate this project to take? Thanks!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Kim @ Cheap Chic Home -- Wow -- I know many things, but standard crib height adjustments are not on the listsmilies/grin.gif. You might try Googling cribs online and see if they list setting heights to determine if there is a standardization. That's about my best suggestion, I'm afraid.
Kim @ Cheap Chic Home said:
Kim @ Cheap Chic Home's picture
Hello Liz, I'm making this for my first grandchild and my daughter has not gotten her crib yet. Do you know if there is a standard height for the highest setting of the mattress? I'd like to make a lush, long skirt. Thank you
http://cheapchichome.blogspot.com
Erica said:
Erica's picture

I don't know if this will help but why not just look online @ the different lengths of skirts sold @ stores. I'm sure that will give you an idea of how long would work for you.

Mama-to-be said:
Mama-to-be's picture
Thanks a bunch for this tutorial! I have very limited sewing skills (but a very handy mom as back-up). But, these instructions were awesome, and I can't believe that I could actually finish this without any help. I am attempting the bumper pads next before this baby arrives!
BeeMelissa said:
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Great and easy tutorial! I can't wait to put this to use this week! smilies/grin.gif
alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture
Hi Cary Dainton, Thanks for letting us know the nursery projects are easy to understand and give you just what you need to sew for your new niece. We really loved the fabric too smilies/wink.gif
Cary Dainton said:
Cary Dainton's picture
I don't need to use pattern I bought to sew the baby bedding for my new neice since I found your website. It's so well explained. Perhaps you should work for the pattern companies I think they could use some help. Thanks.

P.S. Love the fabric
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Jan R - As shown in the hemming steps above, we do recommend leaving all the corners open. In most cribs, there is hardware at the corners to attach the mattress, you want the ruffle to be able to be open so you can work around these obstacles.
Jan R. said:
Jan R.'s picture
Is it necessary for the corner seams to be left open? Or are all the seams closed? Thanks.
HeleneA said:
HeleneA's picture
I am so lucky I found your tutorial. Your instructions are just the best.The hard part will be deciding on the fabric. I will be making this for my first grandchild and can't wait to start! Thank you so much.smilies/cheesy.gif
quinlans_mamma said:
quinlans_mamma's picture
You have the clearest insturctions! Thanks!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Raina -- we made our dust ruffle from regular quilt weight fabric.
Raina said:
Raina's picture
My mother is going to make this for my little boy, the 1st grandchild! My question is do I need to order a home decor fabric weight or would I be fine with something lighter. Thanks for the tutorial.
Carly said:
Carly's picture
I am looking for a pattern for a box pleat crib skirt. In the crib bumper pad tutorial (which I will be starting tomorrow...YAY!), it looks like some of the crib skirts in the submitted pictures are the box pleat, not ruffle style. Any suggestions on where to find something like this?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi anatasia715 - That is so great to hear. We love it when can inspire someone to branch out and try a new project... even if you only occasionally sew. Making something yourself when you can't find it in the store is so rewarding. Have fun!
anastasia715 said:
anastasia715's picture
LOVE this! I am a "recreational" sewer, which means I can make pillows, basic curtains, anything that really only requires a few straight lines. I can't find a commercially-made skirt that I like, so I've been considering making my own, but have been intimidated by the project. These instructions are so clear and simple that I know I'll be able to pull it off now. Thanks so much!
future gramma said:
future gramma's picture
Can anyone tell me how long to make a dust ruffle for a DaVinci Meagan crib. None of the stores here in town have one on display to measure and I am trying to surprise the new parents so I don't want to ask them. I would want it to touch the ground at the lowest setting. Thanks in advance for your help!!
Stella Hall said:
Stella Hall's picture
Excellent instructions, so clear! I'm actually making a box pleat one for a friend but just want to say how impressive the tutorial is. I was going to make mine short for mattress adjustment but after reading your advice about it's appearance meanwhile, I am going to make it full length. Yours looks beautiful.
CamilleH said:
CamilleH's picture
I am almost done with this project. I thought I'd just add that a queen size flat sheet works quite nicely (plus another something for the 'platform piece' - there wasn't quite enough for that. There would be if you did a short ruffle though - for the lowest crib setting).

Thanks for the tutorial!
Marla said:
Marla's picture
Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I made a quilt for my daughter's crib, but had no idea how to do the dust ruffle! I think this will add so much to the room!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Meagan -- of course you can use whatever width you'd like. I always write the instructions with the list of exactly what I ended up using. As I mentioned above, muslin comes in many, many widths, so you can choose what is best for you -- you can even create the platform piece from two or more pieces sewn together if you have scraps to use up -- you don't ever see it. Our platform piece measures 54" x 29½", because we found a platform size of 53" x 28½ was pretty standard. Have fun; so glad you like the tutorial. Let us know how it turns out for you. smilies/cheesy.gif

Also -- we have a handy width conversion chart in this article:

http://sew4home.com/tips-resources/buying-guide/294-know-how-much-fabric...
Meagan said:
Meagan's picture
Could you tell me why the muslin must be so wide at purchase? Couldn't I just buy a 45" width piece and just get it longer? It just seems like a waste of muslin, even if it is cheap. Otherwise, love the tutorial!!
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home's picture
Hi there "1st time expecting mom" -- congrats on a successful project! Hope it's the first of many. We love to hear our instructions and photos made it easy for someone new to sewing.smilies/cheesy.gif

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