Creative ways with historical techniques
Create the Mood

crazy patchwork ruff
currently under consturction

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I used the same techniques to make this ruff as were used in Elizabethan times. Instead of using one long piece of fabric and then starching and pleating it, I made a long piece of crazy patchwork and mounted this onto marquisite net before pleating. This net gives stiffness and flexibility.

Elizabethan ruffs have between 5 and 19 yards of fabric in them. I have collected fabric offcuts in blue, black, bronze and gold, mainly nets, lace and metallic fabrics. I am currently making this ruff and will add photographs as I go.

Elizabethan ruff made from marquisite net,
for easy laundering

1. prepare the patchwork pieces

54 pieces of fabric were prepared, all slightly different. Also a large pile of different fabrics that could be used 'as is', including leather were gathered together.

More lightly-weight net was backed with silky samples that were the right colours but too flimsy to be used on their own. The layering was done using bond-a-web; this is paper with glue on both sides that is ironed onto fabric. Two examples of the method:

net sample
bond-a-web ironed (over paper) onto back of net

paper is peeled off the back

net with layer of bond-a-web on back

close-up of glue on net

net placed over backing fabric

paper placed on top before ironing
glue on back of net has melted in heat of iron
net with backing
now cut out

back of fabric ironed


ironing over paper (such as baking parchment) prevents the iron becoming sticky with glue. Keep the iron moving all the time.

after ironing with a gentle heat the glue has transferred; the glue makes the fabric net opaque.

check particularly the corners before removing covering paper completely

peel net from backing paper

place net over fabric

cover with paper before ironing

the heat melts the glue

cut out the backing fabric out when all glue has melted

iron back of fabric.
2. crazy patchwork

Marquisiete is a firm net with square holes.

It was cut into strips 4 inches wide (10 cm).

crazy patchwork method
The fabric patches are sewn onto the marquisiete backing, one by one.


Start with a 5-sided piece. Sew it down. One edge of the next fabric piece is lined up with the previous piece, right sides together, and sewn down. After being ironed then folded back the piece is pinned.  

the edges are sewn down

then trimmed.

Blue and gold/brown fabrics were used randomly.

As each length of marquisite is worked along the ends were rolled and clipped to keep it under control.

[There are many photograph and video tutorials on the internet with more detailed instructions.]


First roll of patchwork
A few pieces were embroidered with Elizabethan blackwork designs


3. construct the ruff


4. decoratethe ruff



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last updated 23 October, 2012