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How to use a Ruffler Foot

How to use a ruffler foot

This tutorial on how to use a ruffler foot is written by Linda from Sewing Bee Fabrics, online stockists of haberdashery, fabrics and sewing accessories. The image above was provided by Janome

The ruffler foot looks daunting compared to other clip on sewing machine feet, but let me assure you,  not only is it easy to use, but it’s great fun! 

How to attach a ruffler foot

To attach it to the machine, you will need to remove not just your standard foot, but also the part it clips to so you are just left with the pole. You will need to unscrew the current foot to remove it. The bottom claw like part slides around the pole, and the upper part on the ruffler that looks like a lobster claw attaches around the part you would unscrew to change needles. This lets the ruffler foot ‘count’ your stitches allowing you to set pleats/ruffles at different intervals.

Fitting a ruffler foot to a sewing machine

Line the screw hole up and use your screw driver to secure the ruffler in place.

How to change sewing machine feet

This is a really adjustable foot, so your likely to want some scrap fabric to pay with before going straight onto your project. You have 2 dials. On the top setting facing you are these options – *, 1, 6, 12.

* = Straight running stitch as if you have no fancy foot attached
1 = Every stitch is a ruffle
6 = Every 6th stitch is a ruffle
12 = Every 12th stitch is a ruffle.

Don’t forget your stitch length with affect how far apart your ruffles will be too.

Adjustments to ruffles with a ruffler foot

The other dial is for adjusting the depth of the ruffle. This allows you to make anything from a slight ruffle to a pleat. I find that in general, the narrower the piece of fabric, the smaller the pleat depth I prefer. However on wider strips of fabric the small depth ruffle can look a little lost, so you would need to plan how to use it best. For example it would look good for a subtle wave on a skirt but not so much for a decorative edge.

Sew perfect ruffles
Adjusting ruffles

How to use a ruffler foot

To make a ruffle to add to your project, take a strip of fabric. If your fabric is prone to fraying, you will find it much easier to hem before ruffling (either hemmed top and bottom or folded along the long edge and the raw edge hemmed at the top or bound with bias binding). The length you need will vary depending on the settings you choose, but on average you will need 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 times the length you want to fill. You might want to measure a small piece of fabric, pass it through on your desired settings then measure the resulting ruffled piece to find out what percentage you loose so you know how much fabric you will need for your project.

Pass the fabric through the ruffler foot being careful not to snag any delicate fabrics on the serrated edge. You may find it helps to pull it through diagonally then adjust it.

Tutorials by Sewing Bee Fabrics

You may need to gently lift the serrated part of the foot to position your fabric more easily but be careful not to force it. You can very gently use your sewing machine screw driver. You are only looking to lift the tip away from the material edge and no higher.

Using a ruffler foot

Make sure the edge of the fabric is just passed the needle as you would with any other foot, then your ready to start sewing.  Begin sewing with your desired settings! Watch your fingers as you need to keep in mind every ruffle will involve the foot quickly pulling through extra fabric. You can see how the part with the serrated edge moves forwards and pushes the fabric forwards under the foot to create the ruffle.

Sewing with a ruffler foot

The image below gives you an example of how different your fabric can turn out just by changing the ruffle depth – everything from a light ripple to a heavy pleat.

Settings on a ruffler foot
Using a ruffler foot attachment

Now here’s the bit where this foot gets really clever! You can ruffle and sew onto flat fabric at the same time! Simply set the foot up as before ready to ruffle, but this time, put the piece of fabric you want to attach it to underneath the entire foot first.

Sewing with additional feet for a sewing machine

The ruffler will pull the top section through as the feed dogs pull the bottom through letting you fix your ruffles directly to your fabric. Just be careful how many layers or how thick a fabric you use. I would recommend having a practice first. I would also go at a slow speed otherwise the force of the ruffler pulling the top fabric through can pull it out of alignment with the bottom fabric.

Then all you need to do is decide which project needs ruffling next!

 For more guides to help you use your sewing machine feet do visit The Sewing Bee Fabrics website or browse our techniques section.