A rather unusual request arrived in my inbox last week from an upholsterer in Surrey. He was working on refurbishing a four poster bed which had a centrally pleated, tented ceiling and wanted me to make the choux rosette for the centre for him. I was pleased to help as I’ve made quite a few of them over the years; small ones for tiebacks, pelmets or cushions; medium sized ones to embellish swags and tails and large ones, as in this case, to act as a focal point in a tented ceiling.
This one, in a silver-blue fine silk dupion, needed to be 25.5cm (10 inches) in diameter, would be secured in position through a hole in the wooden canopy of the bed and would serve to cover the fixings which attach the pleating to the frame as well as look beautiful, of course.
It can be tricky to create enough volume when ruching fabrics like this but there are a couple of things that can help.
Here’s how to make a choux rosette:
2 circles of pelmet/hessian buckram, 25.5cm diameter
1 circle of 6oz wadding, 25.5cm diameter
1 circle of face fabric (in this case, a silk dupion, approximately 140gsm), 75cm diameter
1 circle of stiff tulle (as used in the underskirts of bridal and ball gowns), 75cm diameter
1 circle of suitable lining fabric, 30cm diameter
Here’s what you do:
Stitch the face fabric and tulle circles together around the perimeter with a running stitch of doubled thread. Draw up the gathering thread to create a silk bag with an opening approximately 20cm in diameter. Fasten off securely.
Next, place the circle of wadding on top of one of the circles of buckram and tack the two together.
The wadding and buckram circle now goes inside the silk bag and you can either pin or clip the layers together around the perimeter ensuring the gathers are distributed evenly.
Now the fun begins – I really love this next bit…
Take a very long, doubled thread and begin stab stitching into the buckram and wadding layers and out through the tulle lined silk bag, making tiny stitches at regular intervals. This pulls the silk into ruches and gathers. It is important to stab stitch evenly but in a fairly random way for best results. You will notice that the wadding and tulle layers, now acting as interlinings help to plump the silk nicely.
You can vary the effect with the density of your stab stitches. Fewer stitches will produce a rather bouncy, marshmallow effect whereas more stitches will give a flatter but more ruched choux. This one, according to the picture I was asked to copy, needed to have about three quarters of the maximum ruche possible – around 200 stab stitches.
Although the back of the choux will never be seen, I like everything to be neat and tidy, so now on to the lining.
Take the remaining circle of lining fabric and run a row of gathering stitches around the perimeter. draw this up to create another bag (this one will look more like a mop cap!) and, with the remaining circle of buckram inside, draw up the gathers and fasten off.
Now slip or hem stitch the two parts of the choux together and attach as you wish. This one had tabs sewn between the two buckram circles for the upholsterer to use to fix it to the top side of the bed canopy.
Mini choux rosettes for cushions and tiebacks can be made with only one circle (I recommend using a softer buckram or even felt for these) and slip or hem stitched all the way around into place.
Of course, this ruching technique isn’t only for choux rosettes – it can be adapted for use in a panel in a curtain or on a pelmet for example and beads, pearls or sequins can be added for extra wow factor!