Everyone Should Learn How to Sew a Ruffled Bedskirt


Learning to sew a ruffled bedskirt teaches you how to gather fabric, sew hems, and save money by sewing decorative items yourself! 

A bed skirt can be ruffled or tailored, depending on the style of the bedroom. Also referred to as duster, dust ruffle or bed valance, bed skirts serve to finish off the bed so that the springs and underside are not visible. Of course Matt says they exist to hide everything that you kick under the bed!

Materials List:

  • Fabric for ruffle
  • Inexpensive lining fabric for bed skirt top
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board

Some bed skirts have an elastic edge around the ruffle to hold them in place on top the box spring, but these tend to slip and slide. Attaching the ruffle to a flat piece of fabric that fits on top of the box springs under the mattress provides a secure anchor for the ruffle and helps hold it in place.

1. To be sure that the flat section that makes up the top of the bed skirt will not be seen from the side, it needs to be cut slightly smaller than the top of the box spring. Measure the length of the box spring and add 1 1/2 inch for the hem and seam allowance. Measure the width of the box spring and add 1/2 inch for the seam allowance. Cut the top of the bed skirt to these measurements, piecing fabric if necessary.

2. To determine the length of the bed skirt, measure the distance from the top of the box springs to the floor and add 21/2 for the seam allowance and hem.

3. To determine the circumference of the bed skirt, multiply the length of the box spring times two, add the width of the box spring and multiply this number times 2.5 to allow for gathering.

4. To determine the number of widths of fabric you will need, divide the number obtained in step 3 by the width of the fabric (54 inches, for example) and round up to the nearest whole number.

To accommodate beds with footboards, the bed skirt should have two sides and a separate bottom.  These three pieces are not attached to each other. Measure the length of the box spring and multiply by 2.5. Divide this number by the width of fabric and round up to the next whole number. Do this twice, once for each side of the bed. Then measure the width of the box spring and multiply by 2.5. Divide this number by the width of the fabric and round up to the next whole number. Add this all together for the fabric required for a bed with a footboard.

5. For a professional look, patterns in printed fabric should be matched. To determine the pattern match, lay the fabric right side up on the work surface. Mark the top of the first complete pattern repeat in the fabric with a pin. Measure from the top of the pattern to the end of the repeat. If this measurement is longer than the length of the cuts of fabric needed for the ruffle, (this is the measurement achieved in step 2), make your cuts the length of the repeat.  If your repeat is shorter than the measurement from step 2, you will need to use two full repeats for each cut so the pattern will match.

6. Stitch the pieces together. If the bed does not have a footboard, the ruffle should be stitched together in one continuous piece. If the bed does have a footboard, create two sides and a bottom piece.

7. When ruffle piece(s) are complete, fold the short side ends 1/2 inch twice and sew to create side hems. Fold up the bottom edge 1/2 inch twice for bottom hem and sew.

8. Gather the ruffle piece(s) to fit the flat top piece. The easiest way to gather such large pieces of fabric is to zigzag stitch a piece of strong string or thin cord along the raw top edge of the piece (being careful to not catch the string or cord in the stitching). Anchor the string at one end with a pin and gently pull on the other end, adjusting the gathers as you go.

OR, you can stitch two lines of basting stitches, one at 3/8 inch from the top edge and one at 6/8 inch from the top edge.  Then, grab the bobbin threads and gently gather up the fabric to the correct lengths needed.

9. Attach one side of the bed skirt, or the entire skirt to the top with right sides facing. Pin in place, making sure the gathers are evenly spaced. Machine stitch the side of the skirt to the top using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. To strengthen the seam and give a neater appearance, zigzag a second seam next to the first straight seam and trim the excess fabric. Repeat for the second side and the bottom piece if needed.

10. Place the bed skirt on the box spring and smooth the sides and bottom into position. Place the mattress over the box spring and make the bed.

Lightweight fabrics can be completely doubled to give the skirt more body, or use additional ribbons or co-coordinating fabrics pieced together to give the skirt a more custom look.

For one of my bed skirt projects, I used an old bed skirt as the base for my new one and just sewed the new skirting over the top of the old one. This gave the new skirt more weight and a richer appearance.  At the same time, I didn’t waste the old dust ruffle!



  1. Candy Johnson says

    Thank you for all this information. Intellectually, I understand basically how to make this bed skirt, but having a bit of trouble piecing the process together. I have enough fabric to double the skirt fabric, so as to give it more body, as you’ve suggested. I had thought I’d just double the width of the length of the skirt…press in half and then attach to the flat piece that goes under the mattress….but I’m having trouble figuring out how get the gathers in and then attaching…..Perhaps you’ll say “my dear, you really don’t get it….” In which case you would be so right (: Do you have any pictures or help to offer (: Thanks! Candy

    • Shari Hiller says

      HI Candy, thank you for your question! First, if I’m explaining something that you already understand, I apologize, but here goes. To create fullness for the bed skirt, you need to measure from the headboard to the footboard (of the mattress) and double that length. All of that extra fabric will gather up to the length of the mattress when you are done.

      To put gathers in a bed skirt, (or anything you want to gather), you must sew two lines of basting stitches, one at 3/8″ down from the top edge and one 7/8″ down from the top edge. Then, you hold onto both of the bobbin, or underneath threads with one hand while you pull on the threads and push the fabric along the threads in the opposite direction to create gathers. You might want to practice this on a scrap piece of fabric to get the system down before going to your bed skirt.

      Once you do the gathering on the bed skirt, sew it to the flat piece that goes under the mattress at 5/8″ down from the top edge. Then, you will need to remove the basting stitches to clean up the front.

      In any way does this explanation make it clearer?

      • Candice Johnson says

        Can’t tell you how many questions I’ve entered on Internet sites, with no response. I PROFOUNDLY THANK YOU FOR RESPONDING. I think I have it…..I may re-post in a few days, with tears of joy (: or more questions!

      • Candice Johnson says

        Got side tracked before. Now ready to go on this bedskirt. I want to line it. Do you have a separate set of instructions for that? Again, I thank you!

  2. Jinny Yachabach says

    Do you have instructions for a ruffled pillow sham? I love your instructions for making a ruffled bed skirt, but now I need instructions for a regular sized pillow sham.

  3. Gail Escue says

    My skirt is connected to the top of the bed cover on top of the bed. Thus it is approximately 29″ long. Would the method of cross-stitching a thin cord work better for gathering this full length skirt? I’ve never done that particular gathering method before; only the two gathering lines at the top and gathering it up evening.

    • Shari Hiller says

      Gail, I have always wanted to try that system but haven’t as of yet. Where do you sew when you use that cross stitch and cord? Below it and it stays hidden in the seam? The idea of the two lines of stitching is that between the two lines, you have the gathers secured at both the top and bottom making the gathers more even. With the other method, you might be sewing in gathers that lay on an angle or get flattened?

  4. Saundra Hucker says

    Thank you for the fabulous instructions. I made my bed skirt out of unbleached muslin ( on sale YEAH!) and it looks fantastic. I used and old top sheet for under the mattress piece of material. I figured if anyone lifted the mattress to see the print sheet they were too nosy. My suggestion to others is to mark the mattress piece and the ruffle in same measured distances before you gather it. When gathering you can do short sections and end up with an evenly gathered ruffle. Thank you again !!!!

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