how to use a ruffler foot

Do you know how to use a ruffler foot? A ruffler foot looks like a strange contraption, straight from the medieval ages. However, it is a tool that will still serve you well in this day and age, especially when you want to create DIY apparel that goes beyond straight stitches. This article will not only explore the tool’s importance, but it will also provide some tips on how to use a ruffler foot.

Why use a ruffler foot

As suggested by its name, a ruffler foot can create the ruffles that you will need in some pieces of clothing. It is a time-saving tool that can provide you with the neatest pleats and gathers. This is a plus over traditional gathering, which will take a more extended period and does not have the benefit of added pleats. However, a gathering foot is smaller and gentler than a ruffler foot, and may still be used for thinner fabrics.

Where to go to buy a ruffler foot

You can buy a ruffler foot at places where you usually buy your sewing machines. This means you can buy this from a local fabric store, or from your all-around online haunts such as Amazon.

How to pick the right ruffler foot for your machine

Buying any ruffler foot will not do. You have to think of at least a couple of factors, aside from the cost of the attachment itself. These factors are the shank size and the ruffler type.

Based on shank height

The shank height is either low or high. Most machines have a height of low or high.

So, how do you know how high or low your shank is? The shank is the measurement from the screw hole’s center to the machine’s needle bed, while the machine is set in the foot down position. A low shank ruffler foot has a distance of ½” from the needle bed, while a high shank has double that distance. The higher shank can take more bulk in the fabric because of the greater distance.

Ultimate or Regular

The differences in the ultimate and regular rufflers are mostly cosmetic. The only added difference is that the Ultimate rufflers contain extra adjustment. This will let you loosen the screw/dial for you to slide a whole foot to either side. However, this is not always necessary. It is only crucial when you have an unusual needle position because of how different your machine is. Functionally, both types are very similar.

How to attach the ruffler foot to your machine

To attach the ruffler foot to your machine, the only tool you need is a screwdriver. This is usually the one that comes with your sewing machine. Using this special screwdriver, loosen the standard pressure foot and screw to altogether remove it. Leave the needle in its current position. Take the ruffler foot that you bought and angle it so that you can insert it from the right side of the needle. This will place the top clasp on the needle bar. The bottom clasp will be placed around the shank. Finally, screw the ruffler foot and tighten with the screwdriver.

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Settings to use for a ruffler foot

Before you insert your fabric, take a look at the ruffler foot settings. You will find numbers and possibly a star. The numbers signify the number of stitches between each pleat. The star sets the machine to make straight stitches only, with no ruffles and pleats.

  • A setting of 1 is used for gathering fabric. The ruffling depth screw should be set at 1 or less.
  • A setting of 6 is for small tucks.
  • A setting of 12 is for larger pleats.

Use a notebook to record your combinations in terms of ratchet gear plate, ruffling depth screw, and stitch length settings.

How to insert the fabric

Because you are going to make pleats and gathers, the insertion is a little less than typical. You put the fabric over the first bump, under the other, and then over the third. Then, pull the fabric gently until it reaches the position under the claws.

If you are inserting a straight fabric and then the fabric that has to be sewn, there are a couple of points that you have to remember. The straight fabric has to be inserted first and must be pulled under the bumps. There is no alternate over and under positioning for this fabric. The fabric that has to be ruffled will be inserted the same way as the fabric that went on its own earlier. The problem here is that it is more challenging to pull it in with another fabric already inserted under the bumps. Do so carefully and patiently. The two fabrics should be lined up before you can start stitching.

Some tips on how to use a ruffler foot

  1. You can use a ruffler foot for finishing. You don’t need backstitching. Instead, you just tie off the ends. You can finish the seams by straight stitching from beginning to end. This will result in each end having long tails of thread. Pull these threads with the end of your seam ripper to the wrong side. Knot them off before cutting shorter.
  2. Testing the ruffler foot is vital in getting the exact effect in gathering and pleats that you want.
  3. Make sure that your ruffle length is cut longer than necessary. You just need to trim at the end. Don’t tighten the ruffles too much or else you will have a hard time adjusting the stitches.Example: You have a scrap fabric of 9 inches. Then, you gathered it. If the resulting length is 2 inches, then you have a 3:1 gather.
  4. When making hem ruffles, start hemming at the bottom. This is done when you attach a ruffle to a skirt or a waistband’s hem.
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How to use a ruffler foot to create styles

There are some styles that a ruffler foot can produce that will undoubtedly make your DIY clothes look more appealing.

Cuff or Sleeve

If you are bored with the same cuff or sleeve styles, you may need to use a ruffler foot attachment. You may make use of soft fabrics to create soft pleats. An example of such a fabric is chiffon. On the other hand, a crisper fabric will provide you with crisper and more defined pleats. Hem the fabric’s bottom edge first before you start making your pleats. It is easier this way.

French Puffing

Using a ruffler foot attachment will cut the steps to making French puffing. This heirloom sewing technique requires you to make use of a gathered strip. This strip is inserted between two flat pieces of material. The ruffler foot enables you to gather that strip and sew it to the flat fabrics simultaneously. After you are done with one side, you simply flip the strip. Then, perform the gathering and attaching of the other flat piece of material.

Gathering lace or ribbon

Lace or ribbon can be very delicate materials. You need at least an inch of width for either one so that you can pleat or gather them. To avoid snagging, make use of 1 inch wide strips that can work as stabilizers for the lace. Sew the strips to the lace before you start ruffling.


Another time-consuming project is the creation of petticoats or underskirts. The ruffler foot attachment makes it easy for you to gather and sew the base fabric. Use netting or tulle with small holes, or else you risk getting the material snagged on the attachment.

Pillow corner

Place your chosen fabric the wrong side up under the ruffling blade. Place the middle of a pillow side the right side up under the Ruffler attachment. This should be next to the feed dogs. Your stitch length should be at 5.0. Sew until you reach about an inch from the pillow corner. The needle should be in the down position when you stop. As you are sewing around the corner, you should have turned both the ruffle and base fabrics a little. Gently move the fabrics while you sew on them. Sew up to the next corner and follow the same guidelines as before. Shorten your stitch length if you want the corners to be fuller. The 5.0 recommendation is for sewing straight.

Pleat embellishments

Embellishments cover all kinds of possible designs that you can come up with. You can go through this by experimenting with your ruffler foot’s numerous settings. Try it on some scrap fabric first so that you can get an idea as to what setting results to what. You can copy designs from the Internet, or you can make up your own based on your experiments.

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Other considerations when using a ruffling foot

  1. Use a test strip when determining fabric length needed. A strip should be at least 18″ long and 2″ wide.
  2. If your thread breaks while you are performing ruffling, place the ruffle back under the tool’s blade. Do it as close to where the thread broke as possible. Pull at the piece of fabric, and you will see the formation of a little pleat. Finish the process, as usual.

Safety tips when using a ruffler foot

  1. Check the needle position: you have to make sure that the needle goes through the hole. It should not graze the metal. When constantly encountering positioning problems, you may need to shift the needle to the left or to the right. This is not just a matter of safety, but also a means to save your needles. If you are going to start sewing with the needle positioned over the wrong place, you may end up breaking several needles.
  2. Check the foot down: your presser foot should be down. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the foot is large enough to make it difficult to see if it is up or down. If you stitch with the foot up, you may risk causing a thread jam.
  3. Keep your fingers away from the needle: This may be very obvious. However, it should be restated.
  4. Be gentle with handling fabrics. Do not just pull at each fabric. This may not be dangerous to you, but pulling can destroy the fabric.

The ruffle foot attachment can save you a lot of time when creating gathers and pleats. You get results at chosen distances after you have learned how to set the attachment up. Just remember the settings that work for you and take note of them in a journal. Testing with scrap may also provide you with a cost-effective means of trying some new styles.

This attachment is worth the buy because it can provide you with a wide variety of styles. It can create free-style embellishments, or it can produce some well-crafted puffings, pleats, and gathers on various types of material. It can embellish your collars, hems, sleeves, pillow corners, lace trappings, and more.

So, yes, it is a worthy addition to your sewing room. You may attempt to use your regular sewing machine or even use a gathering tool, but the ruffler foot attachment provides you with more options at a shorter period of sewing time. The first few times that you use it may be a little challenging, especially if you are sewing ruffles over another fabric, but with time and practice, you will produce some rewarding projects. Now that you know how to use a ruffler foot, you can create pleats and gathers with less effort.


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