So last tutorial was all about ruffles. Now it’s time to talk about flounces!
While ruffles have to be gathered, flounces remain smooth at the seam line.
There are various ways to construct the flounce pattern and you’ll discover the how-to of each by going through this tutorial. I also added a few projects so you can see how to add the flounces in a garment pattern.
Let’s see the circular flounce pattern first. You can make a full circle or a half circle, depending on the amount of flare you’re looking for. The pattern is pretty much exactly like that of the circle skirt.
In the most simple case, the inner circle of the pattern is the flounce length.
So measure the target length for the flounce and divide it by 3,14. This gives you the radius needed for a half circle. But for a full circle you have to divide the result by 2.
For example, if I my target length was 15cm, here’s how I would calculate the radius for a full circle:
15/3,14 = 4,8/2 = 2,4cm
Use that radius to draw the first circle (=the inner one) with a compass. Then measure the flounce height and draw the outer circle. Finally, add both seam- and hem allowance by drawing two more circles around.
Slash the circle open at one point. The opening will also be the direction of the grainline.
Here’s the half circle pattern.
Choosing your circle
But like I anticipated, there’s more to drafting a circular flounce pattern. The amount of flare of the flounce is affected by the size of the inner circle. The smaller the radius, the more flare you get.
I made some examples with 3 different flounce target lengths, each with both full- and half circle pattern. The flounce height remains the same.
The inner circle radius, and the choice between full- and half circle however are not the only things affecting the amount of flare. There’s also the height of the flounce: the bigger the difference between the inner- and outer edge of the circle, the more pronounced the flare is. Then there’s of course the choice of fabric and the edge finish. Not to mention the shape of the seam line the flounce will be attached to.
So as you can see, there are quite a few things to think about. You just have to make samples if you want to be sure.
If you’re looking for a lot of flare but the flounce has to be quite long, then you just need to cut as many circles as you need and sew them together (French seam and flat-fell seam work the best).
For the vertical flounces placed at the neckline for example, you’ll probably be all set by cutting just one circle.
But here, too, the result is slightly different for shorter and longer seams. BTW, here you can also see the two options for the corner: either leave it or curve it.
I prepared a couple of variations on the normal circle flounce.
Double layer flounce
If you draft two flounces with different heights and attach them one on top of the other, you get a richer result. Maybe even use two different fabrics.
Just like with the circle skirt, you can make a high-low version of the flouce, too. This results in a flounce that starts wide and becomes narrower towards the end.
Instead of making a circle, you can make a square to get a pointy flounce. I’ve seen skirts with rows of these sewn vertically to fill the whole skirt.
The spiral is another way of making a flounce. These give you the possibility to create longer flounces. But the thing is, the amount of flare diminishes the longer the flounce gets. But that could be exactly what you’re looking for.
There are a few different ways you can draft the spiral.
Regular spiral flounce
This is the kind of spiral that results in a flounce that has the same height from start to finish.
You’ll need a ruler and a compass to draft the pattern. I hope I’ll be able to explain the procedure. It’s quite easy once you get the hang of it and then you could just go on infinitely around the spiral!
First, decide the heigth of the flounce, seam- and hem allowance included. Then draw a line and divide it by your chosen flounce heigth measurement.
Somewhere in the middle, sign point B, and then point A at half flounce height distance from it. These are the only two points you’re going to be alternating as the centre points of the circles you’ll draw next.
For the first circle, press the pointer of your compass at point A and use the distance between A and B as the radius. Actually, you’re only going to need to draw a half circle (see in the picture below).
The next circle centre will be point B and the radius is that between B and 1. Draw a half circle continuing the previous line.
Then we’re back to point A and the radius is A-2. Draw a half circle.
Go on like this, alternating between points A and B, drawing half circles that continue the spiral as long as you need to complete the flounce length.
Here’s the resulting flounce. As you can see, it starts with more flare and then becomes rather flat.
Irregular spiral flounce
This is another way of drafting the spiral. This time you do it freehand. The good news is, you get to regulate the height of the flounce and the amount of flare, too.
That is, the more curved your line is, the more flare you’ll get.
Start by measuring the target length for your flounce and then draw a spiral (1.) that will be the inner edge that has to match the target length. Leave space for the flounce heigth of course. Then draft the flounce itself (2.)
I made two examples. This one starts wide and ends narrow, the amount of flare diminishes towards the end.
And in this case, the flounce starts narrow and gets wider, while the amount of flare remains quite similar throughout the flounce.
How to hem flounces
How to finish the hemline then? We all know it’s not easy to hem a curved line and flounces certainly aren’t easy. That’s why I’d say the best ways are using a serger directly or lining the flounce.
Especially in the case of vertical flounces, where you can see the backside as well, these are good choices.
Here you can see a self-lined flounce.
And in this case I used a different fabric for the backside as an accent for the vertical flounce.
Just like with the ruffles, I prepared a few projects so that you can see how to add flounces in a pattern.
Top with full circle flounces
Starting with this top. I chose full circle flounces to get a very rich neckline. The flounces are added between seams, so to achieve this look, you simply need to divide the bodice front into slices and decide the area that will be covered in flounces.
There will be 5 rows of vertical flounces. I measured 16cm / 6,3in from the neckline and added tacks where the flounces end. Notice, that I made a little V-shape at the neckline, too.
As this was not a long distance, I went for full circle flounces. With only one circle I could cover the whole 16cm and get a nice amount of flare.
The calculation for the inner circle radius: 16 / 3,14 = 5,1 /2= ca 2,5cm.
As a flounce height I chose 8cm / 3,1in.
To attach the flounces, clip the seamline evenly.
Here’s the top:
Another great example of the use of flounces is a peplum skirt. I used the pencil skirt pattern as a base and measured the waistline to discover the target length for the flounce, which was 26cm /10,2in. This time I chose the half circle, because I wanted only a moderate amount of flare.
The calculation: 26cm/3,14 = 8,3cm radius.
The height of the flounce: 16cm / 6,3in.
It’s also true that my dressform is quite skinny, so the difference between the inner and outer edge of the circle will be bigger than in the case of a more normal body shape. So you have to test, whether the half circle is enough. You could add more volume to the half circle pattern with the slash- and spread method.
Here’s the result. You’ll probably want to draft a waistband, too.
Here’s the last example. You’ll be using the slash and spread -method for creating two layers of flounces at the neckline. That’s the only method you can use if you have particular shapes, as in the case of ruffles.
First you must create the one shoulder top. This being an asymmetrical design, you need to copy both front and back as whole pieces. Don’t worry if your basic pattern looks slightly different.
Draft the neckline and the future flounces.
It’s a good idea to tighten the neckline a bit so that it won’t gape. I added two mini-darts of 0,5cm / 0,2in each at both front and back. They are united to the existing darts so that you can rotate the volume there. If you manage to get rid of the other dart from the back, too, it’s great. Adjust the neckline after this.
Then copy the two layers of flounces and add volume using the slash and spread -method. You don’t need much volume at the underarm area. You’ll be limited by the fact that the pattern will become overlapped if you add too much volume, so look out for that.
If you managed to get rid of the left back dart earlier, now you can hide the right one under the flounces by rotating it to the shoulder. This depends on the construction of your basic bodice pattern and how long the original waist-darts are. Don’t worry if you need to leave them where they are.
Here’s the one-shoulder top with flounces at the neckline:
More on ruffles and flounces
So which ones do you prefer? Ruffles or flounces?