puffing strip tutorial

Every princess loves a full, flowing nightgown, and Jeanna Hanna’s Claire Nightgown is a classic design filled with wonderful techniques! The heirloom overlay adds a touch of magic, as the gathers of the puffing and ribbons create a lovely neckline. In our new Holiday 2022 issue of Classic Sewing magazine, Jeanna shares this project and credits her PFAFF® creative icon™ 2 sewing and embroidery machine for helping her stitch her heirlooms with perfect precision.

“When I discovered the PFAFF® machine, I fell in love with it. I have been a PFAFF® owner since 1990 and have enjoyed years of sewing pleasure. My love is heirloom sewing which demands precision, and my PFAFF®s have always stitched my laces and fabrics with perfection. My creative icon™ 2 offers top-of-the-line capabilities for every sewing need. The large embroidery hoop and touch screen technology allows for so many creative opportunities. The wireless device integration is a godsend—no more plugs and wires to navigate across my countertop! The projector is one of my favorite features of the creative icon™ 2. The projection of grids, guidelines, stitches, and embroidery designs directly on my fabric means no more guesswork for placement. What a time-saver! I’m a PFAFF® girl for life!” —Jeanna Hanna

claire nightgown

Get the complete pattern and instructions for the Claire Nightgown (sizes 2–16) in the downloads included with our Holiday 2022 issue, and enjoy Jeanna’s tutorial for creating the heirloom collar overlay in both the magazine and below.



  • Claire Nightgown


  • Heirloom Batiste

Lace and Trims

  • 5/8″ lace insertion
  • 5/8″ lace edging
  • Entredeux


  • 50wt. thread to match fabric
  • 60wt. thread to match lace and trim
  • Glass head pins
  • Water-soluble fabric marker
  • Steam iron

Refer to Claire Heirloom Nightgown Adaptations in the download for yardages, additional supplies, and length and width of overlay strips.

Creating the Puffing Strip

1. Join the ends of the overlay strips with a tiny French seam to create one long strip as follows:

a. Place the short ends of two strips wrong sides together matching the raw edges.

b. Stitch a 1/4″ seam. Trim seam close to stitching (fig. 1).

puffing strip tutorial

c. Open strip and press seam to one side.

d. Fold the strip right sides together and stitch a narrow seam (1/8“) encasing the seam from step b (fig. 2). Total seam allowance used for the French seam should be 38“.

puffing strip tutoriale. Press the seam to one side.

2. For the featured garment, I chose to gather each long edge of the strip using a ruffler. If you do not have a ruffler or prefer, you may sew gathering rows to gather the edges.

Ruffler Method

a. Attach the ruffler to your machine and adjust the ruffler to make a gather with every stitch (fig. 3).

puffing strip tutorialb. Increase the machine stitch length to a 5.5 length. This will allow you to adjust the gathers after sewing.

c. With the strip right side up, begin gathering at one end of the strip leaving a 12–14″ tail. Position the strip to achieve a 1/4″ seam allowance (lining the raw edge of the strip to the slot on the ruffler will give you an approximate 1/4″ seam allowance) (fig. 4).

puffing strip tutoriald. Gather across the entire strip taking care as you cross over the French seam. When you reach the opposite end, leave a 12–14″ tail and clip the thread.

e. Repeat steps c and d to gather the opposite long side of the strip. This will create a puffing strip.

Gathering Row Method

With the strip right side up, sew 3 gathering rows (L=3.5-4.0) along each long edge of the strip. Space rows 1/8“, 3/8” and 5/8” from the long raw edge. Leave a thread tail at each end for pulling up gathers (fig. 5). This will create a puffing strip.

puffing strip tutorial3. Make a tissue pattern template of the yoke front and yoke back pattern pieces. Cut these pieces on the fold of the tissue so you have a full front and full back template.

4. Fold the 3/8” seam allowance under on matching sides of one front and back shoulder. Butt the folds together and tape across “seam” to join. Leave the remaining shoulder seam open (fig. 6).

puffing strip tutorial5. Pin the tissue pattern to a padded surface. Measure the neckline of the tissue pattern and adjust the ruffler gathers or pull up the sewn gathering rows to match the tissue pattern neckline measurement. Gathers on the opposite long edge will be adjusted to fit the outer edge of the yoke. Each end of the puffing strip should match the remaining open shoulder.

6. Place the puffing strip right side up, aligning the French seam on the strip to the taped shoulder seam of the tissue pattern.

7. Pin the strip to the pattern along the neckline and adjust gathers as needed so it lies fairly flat.

8. Adjust the gathers on the opposite side of the strip to fit the lower edge of the yoke. Pull on the bottom of the strip to “straighten” the gathers around the curve of the yoke (fig. 7). Pin this edge in place.

puffing strip tutorialDESIGNER’S NOTE: The pattern piece may be wider than the strip in places due to the curve of the pattern.

9. When you are pleased with the strip, lightly mist with water and then spray starch. Steam the strip in place. Do not press the strip, only steam above the strip. Let the strip dry completely before proceeding.

10. When the strip is completely dry, mark a dot at the center back (lower edge). You may then remove the pins and carefully move the strip from the template to your cutting table. At this point, you may trim the long gathering thread tails but leave about 6″ in case you need to make any adjustments.

11. Pin and sew the remaining shoulder seam using a French seam. Be very careful and gentle with the strip so that it is not stretched out of shape. Try to leave the gathering thread tails in case you need to adjust the gathers when attaching the overlay to the yoke (fig. 8).

puffing strip tutorial

Embellishing the Lower Edge of Overlay

1. Measure around the lower edge of the puffing strip and add 1/2″. Measure a strip of entredeux and mark the length needed. Do not cut the entredeux at this time just in case your measurement was off by a bit. Trim the waste fabric on ONE side of the entredeux to 1/4″ stopping at the mark (fig. 9).

heirloom collar overlay2. Attach entredeux to the lower edge of the gathered strip using the technique Entredeux to Gathered Fabric as follows:

a. Starting 1/4″ past the center back (lower edge) of the gathered strip, pin the entredeux (trimmed seam edge) to the strip right sides together matching the raw edges. Clip the waste fabric every 1/4″ or so where needed to allow the curve to lie flat.

b. When you reach the beginning, overlap the entredeux 1/4″ and cut the remaining entredeux away (fig. 10). It is okay if you don’t hit the mark made in step 1. The mark was just an approximation.

heirloom collar overlayc. Stitch in the ditch of the entredeux. Stitch again 18” from first stitching. Trim puffing strip and entredeux waste fabric close to second stitching (fig. 11).

heirloom collar overlayd. Set machine for a narrow zigzag (L=2.0, W= 2.0-3.0) and sew from the first stitching line off the edge of the trimmed seam (fig. 12). Adjust width of stitch as needed.

heirloom collar overlay3. Carefully press the entredeux away from the puffing strip and the seam allowance toward the puffing strip. If needed, clip the remaining waste fabric every 1/4″ so it lies flat along the more curved areas. Optional: On the right side, stitch a tiny zigzag from the holes of the entredeux slightly over the seam line (fig. 13). This will hold the seam in place toward the puffing strip.

heirloom collar overlay4. Trim the waste fabric from the remaining side of the entredeux (fig. 14).

heirloom collar overlay5. Measure around the lower edge of the entredeux and add 6″. Measure a strip of lace insertion to this measurement and mark the length needed. Do not cut the lace at this time just in case your measurement was off by a bit. It is important to work in enough ease at the top of the lace insertion to prevent “cupping.”

6. Pull the uppermost thread in the lace insertion out 38” past the end of the lace. Pull this lace header thread slightly gathering the edge of the lace until the header thread measures approximately 6″. Turn under the beginning of the lace 1/4″ (fig. 15). Start at the center back of the overlay in the middle of the entredeux overlap.

heirloom collar overlay7. Using the technique Lace to Entredeux, zigzag (L=2.0-2.5, W= 2.5-3.5) the lace to the entredeux (fig. 16). The zigzag should hit every hole or almost every hole and cover the lace header. Adjust zigzag as needed. Only work in enough ease along the top of the lace insertion so the outer edge of the lace lies flat. If desired, you may pin the lace header to the holes of the entredeux until you have the lace eased around the overlay. As you zigzag, remove a pin and slide the edge of the lace so it butts up to the edge of the entredeux.

heirloom collar overlay8. When you reach the center back, cut the lace . ” past the fold of the beginning lace, turn the end under 1/4″ (fig. 17). Hand whip the center back lace edges together. It is okay if you don’t hit the mark made in step 5. The mark was just an approximation.

heirloom collar overlay9. Mark dots on the outer edge of the lace insertion in line with the French seams on the puffing strip. Fold the overlay in half, matching the dots, and mark the center front at the edge of the lace insertion. These marks will be needed when attaching the gathered lace.

10. Measure around the lower edge of the lace insertion. Cut a strip of lace edging twice this measurement. Fold the strip of lace edging in half and then into quarters and mark a dot on the lace header at the folds.

11. Pull the uppermost thread on the lace edging to slightly gather the lace to fit the lace insertion edge. As you adjust the gathers, match the corresponding dots.

12. Begin at the center back by turning under 1/4″ on the lace edging strip. Zigzag (L=2.0-2.5, W=2.5-3.5) the gathered lace edging to the fl at lace insertion (fig. 18). Adjust zigzag as needed.

heirloom collar overlay13. When you reach the end of the gathered lace, turn the end under 1/4″ and hand whip the center back lace edges together (fig. 19).

heirloom collar overlayRefer to download for attaching overlay to yoke and finishing neck edge.

Jeanna Hanna is the designer, creative director, and business woman behind Blue Ribbon Heirloom Designs along with her husband, Mark. She offers online classes and vintage-inspired patterns. Visit blueribbonheirloomdesigns.com and thesewingcollection.com for classes and kits. You can also find Blue Ribbon Heirloom Designs on Facebook and Instagram.

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