The glorious excess of the ruffle

I’ve been having a fashion epiphany, and it’s all about the ruffle. The simple, lowly ruffle. Used to be that when I thought of ruffles, I pictured flouncy, little girl dresses and a design detail that can quickly become saccharine if not handled well.

But then, I had an epiphany.

Truthfully, it all began with the bow, and an article I read (in Vogue?), discussing the nature of the bow in fashion and how women are socially expected to wrap up their beauty and “present” it to the world. Fascinating!

And then, I began to work on a ruffle scarf with some new yarn I had bought last month. I kept trying to force my yarn into a shawl, but the shawl pattern kept getting messed up. After ripping it apart 3 times, I figured the yarn didn’t want to be a shawl, and so instead I found a pattern for this scarf.

And that’s when I began to understand the nature of the ruffle. The ruffle is a statement of excess. Of glorious, luxurious, even ludicrous excess!

To create the spiral ruffle, the pattern is worked length wise. You cast on 200+ stitches, and every four rows, you basically double your stitches with “yarn-overs”. By the end of the scarf, you’ve added over 800 stitches.

But, I wanted a long scarf that could be doubled up, if necessary. So I cast on about 260 stitches, and modified the pattern to the yarn I had to work with. The final rows were over 2000 stitches. 2000 stitches in one row! The very thought boggles my mind, the very excess of 2000 stitches, which take me a day or more to finish, in a single row!

An entire ball of yarn, 450 yards in length, would create 3 rows. That means 150 feet of yarn create only one 1/4″ row along the length of the scarf. Overall, a half an inch was created, and for nearly $8 per ball.

And that’s when the true nature of the ruffle dawned on me. The ruffle is a statement of excess, of luxury. To create a ruffle, in yarn or in fabric, you have to be able to use more (far more!) of your materials than you need. Layers of ruffles are like cascades of excess, and a statement to the viewer, “Not only do I have enough money to buy this fabric, I have enough to make it into ruffles, which serve no purpose beyond adorning me.”

Historically, the ruffle comes in and out of fashion regularly, and in today’s buyer’s market no one really considers the extra fabric that was needed to create the ruffles on your skirt or shirt sleeves. The ruffle’s true nature of glorious excess has been lost on bargain racks of clearance items.

But, my darling ruffle, I understand you now… and I every time I wear my scarf (which I should finish binding off today!) I will remember how the true nature of the ruffle in fashion was revealed to me.

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Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 7:41 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

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