Learn French Beading >> Intermediate Course Lesson Six: Ruffles

Intermediate Course

Lesson Six: Ruffles

This lesson is now available as a free downloadable PDF in the shop! 

Ruffles are an add-on technique that can be built onto any of the base techniques. You will need to know the Basic Frame technique before beginning this tutorial. 

In French Beading, loops of beads can be sewn around the edges of a petal to make Ruffled edges.

I’m going to show you two ways to make ruffles: the traditional method, and a new method I developed which I have suitably named “ruffle-as-you-go”. Both methods work just as well, so pick whichever way is easiest for you to work with. 

Traditional Ruffle Method

For this exercise, use 24 gauge (.5 mm) wire for the petal, 28 gauge (.315 mm) wire for the ruffles, with <5 grams of size 11/0 seed beads. Usually I choose 28 gauge wire that matches either the ruffle or the petal beads. I will be using different colors in this tutorial so you can make sense of the pictures a little easier. 

The traditional way to make French Beaded ruffles involves cutting a long length of thin wire (usually 28 gauge) and sewing ruffles around the edges of a petal after you’ve wrapped and completed all the regular rows in a petal. 

A pattern that uses ruffles will look something like this: 

Make 1: 9 row BF, 10 bead BR, RB RT.

  • Reduce to two bottom wires.
  • Add 7-bead ruffles around the petal, skipping 4 beads between.
  1. Use 24 gauge (.5 mm) wire to construct a Basic Frame using 10 beads for the Basic Row, and 9 rows total. The shape is Round Bottom, Round Top. After completing the rows, tie off the working wire and remove it from the petal. 
  2. Cut a length of 28 gauge wire approximately 1 1/2″ ft long (~ 45 cm). Attach this wire to the petal by wrapping it around the Bottom Wire. 
  3. Move the 28 gauge ruffle wire into the starting position by inserting the end into the back of the petal, between the two outer rows of beads. (Photo 1)
  4. Pull the wire all the way through and secure it between the bottom wire and the first bead on the outer row. (Photo 2)
PHOTO 1
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 2

5. Add 7 beads to the ruffle wire.  (Photo 3)

6. Count 4 beads on the outer row and insert the end of the ruffle wire into the back of the petal between the two outer rows. (Photo 4)

7. Pull the wire all the way through, securing it between the 4th and 5th beads. (Photo 5

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 3
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 4
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 5

8. Add 7 more beads to the ruffle wire. Count 4 more beads along the outer row and secure the second ruffle by looping the wire around. (Photo 6)

9. Continue adding more 7-bead ruffles along the outer edge of the petal, skipping 4 beads between them. Every two to three ruffles, wrap the wire around twice for extra security. 

NOTE: As you go along, you may notice that it gets harder and harder to get the wire between beads. Or you may notice that your outer row on the petal is starting to bulge outward. This happens because there’s only so much extra space between beads for the wire to take up. To make more space for more wire wraps, we need to crush a bead. Use some type of flat-nosed pliers to carefully pinch one of the beads in the outer row of the petal (Photo 7). Please do this carefully so bits of glass don’t fly everywhere, and so you don’t accidentally nick the wire. This will remove the bead and give more space in the row between beads. Only do this if you absolutely have to. Another way is to plan ahead while making the petal and simply reduce the number of beads in that row, leaving bare wire space in the row. This method is best for large leaves and petals, when you know for certain that you will need extra space. (Example shown in Photo 8.) You may or may not need extra space in smaller petals – like the one from this sample pattern – so I usually use the first method with them. 

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 6
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 7
PHOTO 8

10. A few ruffles away from the end, count the number of beads you have left. You may not have a number that is divisible by 4. To fix that issue, simply adjust the bead count between ruffles. For example: I had 10 beads left in my row, so I skipped 5 beads between instead of 4. (Photo 9) Try to keep the adjusted number near the original count so the difference in ruffle size won’t be very obvious. 

11. After securing the last ruffle between the last bead and the bottom wire, tie off the ruffle wire by wrapping it around the petal stem wire. The finished ruffled petal is shown in Photo 10.

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 9
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 10

There is a large variety of of ruffles that can be made this way simply by altering the bead count between ruffles, and the number of beads per ruffle.

Photo 11 shows a petal with 7-bead ruffles spaced every 5 beads. 

Photo 12 shows a petal that begins with short 5-bead ruffles spaced every 2 beads that grow incrementally up to 11-bead ruffles as you get to the top of the petal, then back down to 5-bead ruffles at the bottom. 

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 11
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 12

Sometimes you may need to start the ruffles somewhere other than the bottom of the petal. 

In this case, you will lace the ruffle tail wire in a few rows at the starting position to secure the end of the wire (Photo 13), then make the ruffles and lace the ending tail wire in a couple rows to secure the other end (Photo 14). 

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 13
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 14

Ruffle-as-you-go

If you completed my Beginner Course, you probably remember Lace-as-you-go. Now I’m going to show you Ruffle-as-you-go. As the name implies, you’ll be making the ruffles along the outer row before wrapping the row onto the frame wires. With this method you will not have to cut any long lengths of wire. You will also not have to leave off beads while making rows in order to leave room for wire wraps between them, or crush beads if there isn’t enough space. But it is a little awkward, especially the first few times you do it. 

We’ll work with a new sample pattern, using the same materials as before. 

Make 1: 9 row Basic Frame, 6 bead Basic Row, Round Bottom – Pointed Top. 

  • Add 5-bead ruffles every 2 beads along the outer row. 
  • Reduce to two bottom wires.
  1. On 24 gauge wire, construct a Basic Frame petal using 6 beads for the Basic Row. Wrap rows 2-7 with a round bottom and round top. 
  2. Estimate the beads needed for the last two rows by looping a beaded wire around the petal (Photo 15). After the beads and wire for the last two rows, measure around 4 inches (10 cm) of extra working wire, then cut from the spool. Make a small loop in the end of the working wire to prevent the beads from sliding off. 
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 15

3. String the ruffle beads onto the spool of 28 gauge wire. For this exercise you’ll need around 5 1/2 inches (14 cm) of bead strung. Leave the wire attached to the spool. 

4. Wrap the starting tail of the ruffle wire around the petal stem wire, then move the ruffle wire into the starting position by wrapping it once around the petal working wire in front of the beads. (Photo 16)

5. Count out 2 beads on the petal working wire, and 5 beads on the ruffle wire. Slide the rest of the beads further down their wires and out of the way. Loop the ruffle wire once around the working wire just after the 2 spacer beads. Move 2 more beads down the working wire, and 5 more beads down the ruffle wire. Make sure you are looping tightly. (Photo 17)

6. If spaces form between beads, just push them together as you move along making more ruffles. (Photo 18)

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
Photo 16
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 17
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 18

7. Continue making 5-bead ruffles, remembering to wrap twice every two or three ruffles for extra security. (Photo 19)

8. Measure the row carefully, making sure you’ve pushed all the beads and ruffles as close together as you can. Then wrap just the petal working wire around the top wire. (Photo 20)

9. Continue making ruffles around the last row of beads. As you get close to the end of the row, check carefully to see if you’ll need to alter the bead count. For mine I needed to have 3 beads between and 6 beads in the ruffle to make a ruffle of the same height that also reached the bottom wire. 

10. After the last ruffle, wrap both the petal working wire and the ruffle wire around the bottom wire then clip and remove them from the petal. Clip and fold the top wire. The finished petal is shown in Photo 21.

french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 19
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 20
french beading technique tutorial - Ruffles - by Lauren Harpster
PHOTO 21

© 2018 Lauren Harpster / Bead & Blossom. The images and written instructions are copyright protected. This tutorial may not be printed and distributed for personal gain or teaching classes, but feel free to print a copy for personal use. The images may not be uploaded onto other websites. If you would like to share the tutorial, please do so with a link! 

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