I know what you are asking? What is that medieval contraption in the photo below? Well, it is a Ruffler foot! This amazing foot can gather and pleat all at once with only one row of stitching. This tutorial will teach you how to use a ruffler foot to cut down on your gathering time substantially.
I have a love-hate relationship with my Ruffler foot. If it is a small project it is not worth all the effort to set it up, but if I have a large amount of gathering in my project, it is AMAZING!!!!!
Rufflers are available for most makes of machine. You can purchase an after-market model from Ebay or Amazon fairly inexpensively. Just check whether your machine has a high shank or low shank so you purchase the correct one.
WHEN SHOULD I USE A RUFFLER?
If you only have a small section to gather then this is probably not the best method. But if you have lots of gathering or pleating to do you will be amazed how quickly you can complete your project.
HOW TO USE A RUFFLER FOOT
Attach it to your machine as per the instructions. Set your machine on a straight stitch with a length of 4.0.
SUPER IMPORTANT – Don’t sew a stitch until you have checked the following:
- That the needle goes through the hole without touching any metal. When I first started using my Ruffler I broke a lot of needles by forgetting to check. You may have to adjust your needle position slightly to the left or right. If the needle is hitting the side metal of the Ruffler you should also check that your needle is not bent. Try replacing it.
- That your presser foot is down. This foot is so large it is not always easy to tell if it is down or not. If you try and stitch with the foot up you will cause a thread jam.
Once you have checked the above, grab some scrap fabric and do a test row of stitching.
HOW TO ADJUST THE GATHERS ON A RUFFLER FOOT
Your Ruffler has 2 points where you can make adjustments.
The first is in the front where you will see the lever shown in the photo below.
You will see there are 4 settings for the Ruffler here – star, 12,6,1. This tells you how many stitches there are between each gather or pleat. The larger the number, the further away each pleat.
- Star – no gathers
- 1 – gathers
- 6 – small tucks
- 12 – larger pleats
The second point of adjustment comes from the black knob attached to a long scew at the back. This adjusts the depth of the gathering by adjusting stitch length. A smaller number gives larger ruffles and a larger number gives fewer ruffles.
How to Use a Ruffler Foot | TIPS:
- You don’t need to back stitch at the ends. I’m not sure about all brands, but my foot did not like going backward. Instead of backstitching, just tie off the ends. (Learn how to tie ends)
- Like a gathering foot, you will need to play around a little to get the look you want.
- I always cut the length of my ruffle longer than I need and then trim any excess at the end. Just make sure you don’t ruffle too tightly as it is almost impossible to adjust the stitches. If you need to be more accurate with your gathering, then cut a strip of scrap fabric 10 inches (25cm) long and gather. Then measure its final length. If it measures 5 inches then you have a 2:1 gather. If it is 3 inches then it is 3:1. Make some notes so you remember next time.
You can also stitch your ruffle to a straight piece of fabric at the same time. For example when you need to join a ruffle to a hem or a skirt to a waistband.
Now you know how to use a ruffler foot, what will you use it for? Share your comments below.
MORE IN THE HOW TO GATHER SERIES
- How to gather fabric – simple machine gathering techniques
- How to gather fabric with a gathering foot
- How to gather fabric with a ruffler
- How to gather fabric with cord and a zig-zag stitch
- How to gather tulle
- How to gather with clear elastic
- Sewing with elastic thread: How to sew shirring