How To Use A Ruffler Foot 10

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How To Use A Ruffler Sewing Machine Foot

Sewing machine ruffler foot guide

Many people are scared off from using the ruffler foot because it looks much more intimidating than clip on sewing machine feet, but let me assure you, not only is it easy to use, but it's great fun!

sewing machine feet ruffler sewing foot large 5

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.

Attaching the ruffler

From the other side:

Side view of ruffler attached

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

Putting the screw in to the ruffler foot to secure

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.

Ruffler foot how to change ruffle frequency

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.

Free ruffler tutorial ruffle depth

Free ruffler sewing machine foot tutorial adjusting ruffle depth

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.

Ruffler tutorial bringing the fabric through to position

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.

Free sewing machine tutorial bringing fabric back

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.

Ruffler ideal starting position

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 machine ruffler tutorial mid ruffle

This 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.

differences in ruffles depending on ruffle depth setting

And this gives you an idea of how different it can come out depending on how often you ruffle - and how that can vary even more just by changing the stitch length. So I really can't say enough - experiment first then go for it!

differences in ruffles depending on stitch frequency setting

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.

How to set up the ruffler free tutorial

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.

Sewing ruffles directly to flat fabric

Example of how to sew ruffles onto flat cotton

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

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment or send me an email to

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10 thoughts on “How To Use A Ruffler Foot

  • Debra--Ann Brown

    Thank you for your great explanation about the Ruffler foot. It does look a little intimidating when you remove it from the box. Looking forward to trying it. Keep up the good work.

  • Yvonne Almon

    Dear Linda and Team,
    I was looking for a guide book on sewing threads, needles and presser feet and came accross your website. I am very excited to find easy to understand guidance from yourselves.
    As a child my nan taught me to sew by hand and how to sew on he vintage Singer hand machine . She would help me to make dolls clothes and I loved to watch whilst she made bras, shirts for my granddad and all sorts. My primary school form teacher taught me to do embroidery and to crochet in the early 60’s prior to me coming to join my mum in London.
    When I came to England aged 12 and started at my secondary school, my class had sewing lessons one afternoon a week. I learnt a bit of dressmaking using sewing patterns but did not get the chance to do much as I had to leave school at 15 (1969) to start working.
    I taught myself to knit and bought a sewing machine in the 70’s. I made a few outfits using sewing patterns and following the step-by-step instructions. I think did fairly well and even got some nice compliments.
    I’ve always had a sewing machine and would use it occassionally until quite recently. I suddenly got the urge to sew again and to learn to do it properly so I bought a new, more up-to-date sewing machine, (not too technical) and some easy sewing patterns.
    I am always buying fabrics so I have a good selection in my storage box. I started, made many mistakes, had to unpick and fix, sometimes several times before I got it right. I spent a while night not so long ago trying to put a zip in the back of a dress but I enjoyed every minute of lost sleep. I am having the most fun.
    I found a fantastic fabric store in Luton where I now live, I am addicted to the place. The fabrics are awesome and cheap. I am like a child in a sweet shop when I go there, which is often.
    I have bought almost every presser feet for my sewing machine, the latest being the Ruffler foot. I have just read your instructions on how to set up and use it and found them really easy to understand. I just had to let you know how pleased I am to have found you, hence my email
    I want to find a sewing class in Luton but so far I have had no luck. I want to learn to draft patterns and everything else pertaining to dressmaking which I am now very passionate about. I only wish I did this earlier in life. (I am 64years next month)
    I was forced to give up work (nursing) over ten years ago because of ill-health but I have discovered I have talents I did not know about, also, I have become very inventive, curious about how things work, making things and to think about alternatives to running to the shop to spend, spend,spend.
    I even re-upholstered some old dining chairs by just stripping one down to the bare wood to see how it was put together and with a little help from “Teacher” Utube. I surprised myself at the result, never mind my friends and family. I find I am more confident now to try doing things and not bothered about not getting things right but will keep going until I do. I am patient and do not give up easily. I am never bored.
    Why am I telling you my life story? Well, when I was reading and watching some of your tutorials I felt your passion for sewing and it’s made me more determined to learn more. I guess I just wanted to say a big thank you and your team of Sewing Bees” for this wonderful website and to let you know you have a new novice fan.
    I am off now to watch a few more tutorials before going to sleep.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my email.
    All the best to everyone and happy sewing!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely message, that has absolutely made my evening. I am a self taught sewist too, and I have worn in my seam ripper well too! Mistakes only make you get more inventive on how to hide them and that can only improve sewing skills more!!! I really am so pleased you have caught the sewing and crafting bug! It’s so much fun!

  • Janet

    Hi there Linda and all at Sewing Bee Fabrics for all of you help through out the and not forgetting the fantastic insperation you give too all of us @ the Sewing Bee Fabrics here’s wishing everyone at Sewing Bee a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy sewing New year.
    From Janet Cozens.

  • Lenore

    Ok , you have by far surpassed any other info site on this subject. I have a ruffler….But we do not have the best relationship. Maybe now that I have a clearer understanding things will be better. Your pictures are close up enough for me to see what’s going on. No one else ever really talked about that orange dial and I wasn’t sure what I should be doing with that. Now I feel better informed- thank you! I do seem to have one problem that seems to be common. For some reason my needle gets loose and I have actually had them break because I didn’t expect it and know to watch for that. Unfortunately I have to keep checking that it’s tight during my sewing projects with my ruffler. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a solution?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Lenore, I am so glad you’ve found it so helpful, and hopefully you’ll get more fun out of playing with it now you understand it better. The needle problem that your having seems to be a common one with both the ruffler foot and the walking foot on all different designs of feet and different sewing machines. To time the movement properly it has to attach to the needle bar. The vibration from those 2 feet seem to have a loosening effect, especially if there is a slight underlying problem that wouldn’t normally be an issue with less vibration from other feet. There are a few things you can do to reduce how often it happens though – it is usually linked to the screw hole or the needle. Things you can try:

      – Check the threading on your screw that holds the needle in – if the threading is worn (most common reason), it will not be able tighten as effectively and so will loosen at a faster rate. If you have a replacement screw in, check you have the right size – not long enough and it wont hold it properly, but too long may catch on the thread and cause more thread breakage problems. Some sewing machines will allow you to screw the needle in from either side. If this is the case, you can try the other side. If this helps then chances are it is a threading problem with your screw and it’s on it’s way out.

      – Make sure when you insert your needle that you have the flat side of the needle correctly lined up and the screw sufficiently undone. If it’s not quite undone enough then the needle will go most of the way up, but then will get blocked by the screw tip so wont be all the way up into the hole, and so will fall out easier as it’s not being fully gripped when you tighten the screw back up.

      – Although most of the time the screw holding the needle can be hand tightened, there is a line for a screw driver there on purpose. Once hand screwed, very gently tighten it a little further with the little screwdriver that came with the machine before you start.

      – Sometimes “burrs” can occur – rough irregular edges usually with tiny little metal splinters left inside from when edges have roughened with use. Try screwing the screw all the way out, all the way in with no needle there then all the way out again to help clear any bits out before trying to insert your needle again.

      – Bent needles are more likely to snag and pull loose – make sure your using the right type for the job, and avoiding sewing over pins or sequins etc to reduce that happening

      Hopefully one of those should fix it for you!

  • Marie Cartwright

    I am currently trying new ideas and would like to know if the ruffle foot can be used to completely smock a piece of fabric?
    I would need to buy one so need to know before ordering one.
    Many Thanks

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      As far as I am aware, the main point of smocking is to add more elasticity within the gathers, either by hand stitching gathers in to a criss cross pattern so there is thread movement which allows the fabric to move. Or, it is often done by sewing with elastic thread hand wound onto a bobbin so that the elastic gathers the fabric but can also flatten back out. If you use standard thread with the ruffler foot, you could make a close gather / pleat effect which could look similar but there would be no stretch.
      Hope that helps.