Tips and Tricks: Steam-blocking a Ruffle

The Problem: Ruffled Edges

Recently I was finishing up a sample knit for a girl’s tank top.  I designed the shoulder straps with a ruffled edging … which is a little challenging to block, as it turns out.  Today I’ll share the method I used to get the ruffle to be “pretty” without flattening it into submission. Here’s a quick “before and after” shot, using both straps.  The lower strap hasn’t been blocked at all, while the upper strap has — observe the nice square ends of the blocked strap, and the pleasing curves of the blocked ruffle:

1465 ruffled strap (steam-blocked and un-blocked)

Step #1: Pin it out

You didn’t think you’d be able to get away without pins, did you? I used pins to hold the strap squarely on the proper measurements (in this case, 1″ x 7″).  Leave the ruffled edge un-pinned.  The strap is NOT washed beforehand — it’s dry.  Angle the pins away from the piece, to make it easier to get the iron in on the next step.  I’m using a sewer’s ironing board, with padding over a cardboard base (at least I think that’s what it is).

1455 ruffled strap (pinned)

Step #2: Steam it up

With a full iron on steam, hover over the pinned piece, flooding the entire strap with heat and moisture.  Move the iron slowly back and forth over the strap, without touching it. 

1457 ruffled strap (steaming)

Note the space between the iron and the knitting! Don’t let the iron touch the knitting.

1459 ruffled strap (iron clearance)

Step #3: Mold the ruffle

After steaming, the ruffled edge opens up considerably.  It’s no longer curled it a tight roll.  However, it still isn’t exactly right.

1460 ruffled strap (steamed)

Use your fingers to pinch the ruffled edge, molding it into a sinuous curve while it is warm and moist from the steaming.

1462 ruffled strap (shape ruffles)

Step #4: Cool it

Allow the strap to cool completely.  Keep the pins in place and do not disturb the ruffle.  Cooling will “set” the curve you’ve made.  Unsatisfied?  Fire up the iron and give it another go.

1463 ruffled strap (cooled)

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