How to Make a Quick Elizabethan Ruff for a Costume

red ribbon v image by Mykola Velychko from

Things You'll Need

  • White wire-free ribbon
  • White wire-edged ribbon
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Needle and thread

A woman's Elizabethan-era costume is incomplete without a ruff. Elizabethans wore the ruff all the way around the neck or left it open in the front for low-cut dresses. Make a basic ruff for a costume using a width of ribbon that has wire sewn into the edge and is pleated and then attached to a wire-free ribbon to maintain the shape. Stack several ruffs to create a fancier look.

Cut a length of wire-free ribbon that is 6 inches longer than the circumference of the neck so that you have enough ribbon left over to tie the ends of the ruff together after you've completed it.

Leave the wire ribbon on the spool while you work so you do not run out of ribbon while you are pleating. Fold the edge of the loose end under so that the wire doesn't poke you when you're wearing the ruff. Make folds in the ribbon at 1-inch intervals in an accordion pattern. Don't crease the wire, just bend it into a curve. Shape the curves around a pencil as you go.

Sew one side of the pleated length of wired ribbon to your wire-free ribbon starting about 3 inches from the end of the wire-free ribbon. Use a whip stitch and make sure that each stitch goes around the wired edge of the pleat and through the edge of the fabric of both the pleated, wired ribbon and the wire-free ribbon. You should end up with 3 extra inches of the wire-free ribbon at the other end.

Tie the ruff around your neck using the ends of the wire-free ribbon to test it for length and fit. Cut the wire ribbon off the spool and fold the cut edge under to hide the wire.


  • If you are attaching the ruff to a low-cut dress, add a button to each side of the loose edge of ribbon and affix the ends to the base of the neckline. For a wider ruff, sew strong wire into the edges of a wide piece of fabric and pleat it just like the ribbon.