How to Make an Elizabethan Ruffle Collar

green ribbon image by Alison Bowden from

Things You'll Need

  • White grosgrain ribbon, 2 inches wide
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Needle
  • White quilting thread
  • White fabric
  • Hooks and eyes

Historical re-enactors often wear ruffled collars from the Elizabethan era, as do actors who perform Shakespearean plays. Although not a project for the novice seamstress, a basic collar for a man or woman of the middle class is not that difficult to make. With some basic materials and a little effort, you can create a small, narrow ruff that pokes out from your collar to evoke that 1500's feel.

Measure around your neck. Multiply by five and add two. If your neck is 15 inches around, 15 times 5 is 75, plus 2 inches, for a total of 77 inches. Cut a piece of 2-inch-wide white grosgrain ribbon that length. Make dots on the ribbon 1/2 inch in from one side, 3/4 of an inch apart.

Gather the ruffle. Then thread the needle with as long a piece of quilting thread as you can manage. You might need to knot the thread and start new threads during the gathering process. Bring the needle up through the pencil marks on the first five ruffles as they are gathered together, and stitch through all five together twice to hold. Sew a running stitch to the next mark and repeat. Continue until you have gathered the entire length of ribbon in this manner.

Set the ruffles. With a new piece of thread, sew a running stitch 1/2 inch from the edge, overlapping your sewing. When you get to a gathered part, flatten the loops, two on the left and two on the right, and stitch down with your running stitch. Continue to the end of the ribbon.

Fit the collar. Wrap the stitched ribbon around your neck. The edges should overlap by half an inch. If the sewn ribbon is too long, cut it so there is 1/2-inch overlap.

Attach the collar to the fabric. Cut two pieces of the white fabric 3 inches wide and as long as your neck plus 1 inch. Pin the flattened, gathered edge of the ribbon to the long edge of one piece of fabric and stitch. Pin the other piece of fabric on top so that the ruffled part is between them, and stitch through all three layers, following the previous seam as a guide.

Finish the ruff. Sew the short ends of the fabric together and turn. You can now use the open edges of the fabric to attach your ruffle collar to a garment or sew the open edges together, add hooks and eyes to the short ends and wear separately.


  • The best type of fabrics are comfortable, textured and light weight, such as velvet, chiffon and fine linen.

    Spruce up your ruffled collar with some unique, decorative accents like fake jewels, sequins, rhinestones and glitter.