Ella Week 10: The Skirt Ruffle & Front Plackets

You have have already decided how many ruffles and flourishes you want . . .


I think most of you have already finished the skirt ruffle, but if you have not, please feel free to do that. For those who are following me, here is the picot ruffle again. . . Work to desired skirt length – about 1/2 – 3/4 inch, ending with a WS row.

RS: Kfb across the row.

WS: Purl.

RS: *Kfb, k1; repeat from * across row.

WS: Execute a picot bind off as follows: *Using a cable cast on, CO 2 stitches, BO 3, placing the stitch that remains on the right needle back onto the left needle; repeat from * until all stitches are bound off.



For simple, minimalist plackets, follow the instructions in either the original Ella pattern or the Ella Rediscovered for the button band plackets. These are folded plackets with ruffles. You will want to put button holes on one side (if using buttons) and leave the other side without the buttons.

For the more simple ruffle you see on the pattern cover, please follow the ruffle instructions for sleeves.

For my picot ruffle, please follow the instructions for my ruffle meets ruffle tweak below.

1. A Tale of Two Ellas:

In both original Ella patterns, I have a button band on one side and a ruffly placket on the other.

In my newest Red striped and Pewter Ellas, I have ruffled plackets on both sides and am still debating about different closure methods (more about this in next week’s Week 11 post!).

In both Ella patterns, the front plackets are accomplished before the collar and neck ruffle. We have not done things this way. Thus, the plackets will begin at the top of the collar and neck ruffle and proceed all the way to the bottom of the skirt ruffle.

In order for this to look as though the ruffle was made all in one piece we have to join the ruffly-ness of the placket to the neck and skirt. Best way to do this is to use the technique of short rows.

2. What You Need to Know

Short Rows: If you’ve ever made a sock, and I bet most of you have, you have used short rows. Here is a great tutorial by Cat Bordhi on how to wrap and turn in exactly the manner I want you to do for the plackets. You will see, as you watch the video, that she works through the process by looking at her stitches rather than counting. Because the number of stitches you will be picking up along the front edges varies from coat to coat (but is 3 stitches for every 4 rows), I will not count stitches, nor do you need to.


3. Ruffle Meets Ruffle Tweek: After picking up stitches on the right side per the instructions in the pattern and those above, you will purl the first row.

Row 2 (RS): Work to last stitch, w&t.

Row 3 (WS): Work to last stitch, w&t.

Row 4: Work to last stitch before wrapped stitch, w&t.

Repeat row 4 on both knit and purl sides until 1 inch (2.5cm) before desired placket width, ending with a WS row.

RS: Knit to end, working the wrapped stitches as Cat Bordhi instructs in the video so they will be invisible.

WS: Purl to end, working the wrapped stitches as Cat Bordhi instructs in the video so they will be invisible.

RS: Kfb (knit in the front and back) in each stitch.

WS: Purl.

RS: Kfb, k1 across, with no worries about whether you end with Kfb or k1.

WS: Employ the ruffle bind off of your choice. If you would like to do my favorite picot bind off, here it is again: *Using a cable cast on, CO 2 stitches, BO 3, placing the stitch that remains on the right needle back onto the left needle; repeat from * until all stitches are bound off.

Weave in ends at the end and beginning of the ruffles so that the plackets ruffles are joined seamlessly to the neck and hem ruffles.


Final Weeks of Ella Previewed!

Next Week (Week 11): More About Plackets  Here, I will segue into ideas for decorations, as ways to close the coat should be considered decorative

Week 12: Decorating Ella

At the same time we will begin preparing for some of the knit-a-longs that are associated with the Noni Flowers book. I think we should have a good, old-fashioned VOTE for your favorite project and whichever one wins, wins. . . or should I just pull rank and say we’re going to make the Gossamer Fuchsia Wrap first? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “Ella Week 10: The Skirt Ruffle & Front Plackets

  1. You have my brain working and now I have questions:

    1. I’m not quite at the ruffle, but am on row 10 or the “knit 24 rows” before the ruffle. Do I really need that many rows? I’m making the striped coat and was just curious (read, anxious to get to the ruffle).

    2. For the placket–I’m trying to understand the directions:

    Repeat row 4 on both knit and purl sides until 1 inch (2.5cm) before desired placket length, ending with a WS row.

    By placket length, you sorta mean width right? i.e. if I want a placket of 3 inches, I would work the short rows up and down the placket length until the band measured 3 inches and then proceed to the ruffle. Yes?

    What would you consider a good placket size? That is, big enough to function properly, but not so big as to be floppy. I planned my coat with the ease you suggested.

    I assume the point of the short rows is to taper the placket so it sorta melts into the ruffles on the hem and collar. That’s a nice feature.

    3. Now suppose I’m not sure if I want a ruffled placket? (I must confess this coat has 100% more ruffles than I’ve ever knit for someone over 5 years of age.) Do you have any suggestions for that? I’m considering folded facings or even a ribbed placket to mirror the collar. Or I might be daring (for me and at the behest of my 13 year old) and just go ruffley!


    • Hi Dr. Steph,
      Thank you for your good questions. I’ll answer in order:
      1. Re. knit 24 rows. Working this many rows will give you a ruffle that is approximately the width of the ruffle you see pictured on the pattern. I worked a wider ruffle for both Red Striped Ella and Pewter Ella. But the answers to your question is work as many rows as you desire. How to decide? I would try on your coat and stop when you like the way the one side looks. For the pictured Ellas (that is, pictured on the pattern covers) there is one ruffled side and one folded placket side. For a coat that is a lot less ruffley, you could just go with 2 folded plackets, but the front width in the pattern does not meet without the plackets, so you would want to make sure that you work about 12 rows on each side before the fold row.
      Some might need to make up extra width in the front–I do, for example, for my latest ski-hat-inspired Ella.
      2. Yes, by placket length, I mean width. I’ll tweek the blog to standardize that language.
      I think a good placket size (ruffled) is anywhere from 1 – 3 inches. Beyond that, I think you might get into floppy territory.
      Yes, the point of the short rows is to taper, melt. Great descriptions of what I was going for.
      3. Because the ruffle on this coat happens all in the last 3 or so rows, there is more structure to these plackets, less drape in the placket itself.
      Not sure how to advise you about going for the ruffly ruffles or going with something a little more low-key. I guess I would say if you’ve gone for the ruffles up to this point, then just go for it.
      Some warnings about only ruffling one side: the ruffle side will be heavier and will weight that side down more. My blue striped Ella has developed this over time (as has my turquoise one with the Mermaid beaded ruffles) but I have to say I don’t care so much. So, if this will not bother you, then consider a folded placket on one side for buttons. . . going to use other sorts of closures than buttons? not as important to have that turn row, so you could do a 1 x 1 rib for each placket either followed or not with a ruffle.

  2. I am going to do the ruffle on both sides because I expect to wear it open some. And, I am inclined to just skip buttons (and buttonholes). Do you see any issues with this? If I want to close it, I’ll just use some kind of shawl pin thing.

    • Dear Judy, What you are describing is that I do with my two latest Ellas. I have variously used a pretty wooden cable needle, a flower clip, a hair clip, and will be looking at other closures. . . So, yes, using a shawl pin is probably a great solution.

  3. Hi,
    I’m concerned that if I put a ruffle on both sides the front of the coat will appear lumpy when it is closed. Have you had any problem with the underneath ruffle?


    • Hi Patricia,
      I have not had this experience. What I mean is, I don’t find the overlap to b bothersome, partly because the Shepherd’s Wool is so soft and with a lot of drape. The more structured, pewter coat has more bulk there, so I do tend to make the ruffles meet in the center and take up any extra width with a clip in the back that makes the line very pretty and adds dramatic interest to the back.

  4. Hi Nora,
    I just finished my skirt ruffle . . . a true labour of love!!! And now I am ready to move on to the plackets. Am I correct in thinking that the stitches I pick up for the plackets should begin and end as close as possible to where the ruffle starts but not pick up in the ruffle? It doesn’t look to me like the “melting” of the ruffles will occur if I pick up a stitch or two in the ruffle.
    I knit my Ella with the recommended 1-2” of ease. I am thinking that if I knit the plackets about 1” and then add the ruffle it may work out best. I love the “tweaked” ruffle but I don’t what it to be too floppy or take over the front of the coat. I am thinking it may be best to knit both plackets before knitting the ruffle on either side to see how much overlap there is. Do you think that may be a good way to go about it?


    • Hi Jill,
      I think your suggestion to knit both plackets and then take stock (before adding ruffles) is a good approach. I wish I had made that suggestion myself! But I knit them one-at-a-time because I knew what I was going to do. This is a great way to “check” what you think you want to do.

      I agree with you about your first point: I did pick up close to the end of the ruffle but I left enough room for those extra rows I knew I would be working. I didn’t want the placket ruffles to be longer than those of the neck or skirt and so look odd. Still ways to fudge things if they do end up looking a little long. Weave in ends so you bring the ruffles together and the ruffly-ness itself disguises any jog.

      Let me know if I have not answered your questions and I try again!

  5. Hi Nora,

    As I continue to happily work at a snail’s pace, it occurred to me that I probably don’t have enough yarn to do the picot ruffle. I purchased my second color according to the original pattern (size 36: 2 skeins), before I knew about all the tweaks. I’m making my Ella in a solid color with the second color for the new collar, a one inch placket and the picot ruffle all around. The length will be similar to your eggplant and green Ella on the cover of your original pattern. So my question is, how much yarn should I get for the second color? I have no idea how to judge how much yarn I would need. Thanks!

    • O, goodness me. The picot bind off takes a lot more yarn than a conventional ruffled bind off. I would get more than enough (mho) and figure I’ll use the extra for a cute matching bag and flowers. . . At least 2 more skeins. Maybe more like 3, because it’s always wise to purchase knitting insurance. I’ve also seen folks in the Rav forum who are layering colors only in the ruffles and plackets. That’s something to try, too. Gives it more of a custom look.

      • Thanks! I’ll be sure to get plenty more. I think I want to do the same ruffle on my handbag.

  6. Nora,

    I really love the w&t , its a nice, neat finished between ruffles!
    Thank you for sharing, now I’m ready for decorations !

  7. I have finally finished my coat…after setting it aside several times out of confusion…finding your tweaks and the KAL was just the info I needed to finally finish. This coat has two names. It began as my Technicolor Dream Coat, then became The Coat of Many Calamities when I discovered we have a cat with a yarn eating problem.🤦🏻‍♀️. I knew I needed to learn how to darn, just didn’t know it would be on THIS particular (striped) garment.

    And, it’s worth the wait! I love the fit. Thank you for the very helpful extra guidance in the blog.

    • O my goodness, Heather, I saw your coat in your Ravelry projects! It looks AMAZING AMAZING! And one would never know that there was a cat with a yarn-eating problem somewhere in the mix! I am so glad you found the blog material on the Ella Coat helpful. There is lots of info there (here), for sure! I hope I can entice you to sign up for my emails on the bottom left of my website homepage: https://store.nonipatterns.com/

      I will be offering a Perfect Fit class this coming fall that will use the Ella Coat as the jumping off point for learning how to make a garment that fits perfectly. It’s more or less a masterclass on fit. Perhaps you might like to join us?

      Thank you for sharing your comments and for the link to your project page. I am delighted that you made such a lovely garment using my pattern. All the best! Nora

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s