Creative articles about sewing

How To Use The Ruffler Foot

A while ago, I received the new presser-foot set for my bernette 38. I love that the feet come in a neat little box, and every foot has its place.

I love the box as a storage for my presser feet. I discarded the foam and store now all my sewing machine feet in the box. This way, they are all in one neat, space-saving place.

One of the feet in the set is the ruffler foot. I haven’t used this foot until I received the box, and wanted to test it thoroughly to tell you all the tips for using the ruffler foot. It’s perfect for romantic styles and embellishments both on home decor and clothing. Blouses with ruffles are on trend right now – and of course, the ruffler foot comes in handy for that!

The Ruffler Foot: Usage

The ruffler foot doesn’t look very spectacular when viewed from above. On the bottom, it has a notch where the fabric gathers – the feeding of the fabric gets delayed, and this creates the ruffles.

I jumped right in and wanted to use the ruffler foot on a specific project: a blouse with gathered sleeves. I cut the sleeve wider than the cuff that I would attach to the end of the sleeve.

The difference of the sleeve and the cuff is the amount of fabric that will be gathered in ruffles.

I chose a long stitch length and left the threads long, so I could adjust the gathers if needed. Then, I sewed along the edge of the sleeve, all around. As I sewed along, the fabric got gathered. It went pretty smoothly, just sometimes I had to slightly pull the fabric along because too much of it got gathered in the notch. You’ll notice when your machine needs a little help along the way.

As I sewed all around the edge, I reached my starting point again. I left the threads long again for adjusting.
The length my gathered sleeve was after the ruffler foot treatment was almost perfect; I gathered it a little more with the help of the long threads so it was the same length as the cuff. I then sewed the sleeve to the cuff and admired my work.

The ruffler foot created neat, even ruffles. Perfect for elegant and playful styles.

Comparison: The Ruffler Foot, Stitch Length and Material

A very, very important factor for a successful usage of the ruffler foot is the choice of the right material. The ruffler foot works best with fine materials: chiffon, crêpe, fine tulle, batiste, organza, woven viscose/rayon, and fine woven silk works best. The fabrics should be fluid and drape-y – the the ruffles will be especially beautiful when using these fabrics.
Without having tried it, I can imagine that lightweight knits could work well, too.

To demonstrate the correlation of material and stitch length, I took pictures of a comparative study of sorts:
I used fabric strips with the same length, and used the ruffler foot on them. Two different materials – a drape-y poly crêpe and a woven cotton fabric in patchwork quality – and different stitch lengths.

The stitch lengths are 2,4, 3,5 and 5, from left to right. As you can see, the ruffler foot gathers more fabric with a longer stitch lengths – or, differently put: the longer the stitch length, the tighter the ruffles will be.

The ruffler foot created ruffles on the poly crêpe even at a relatively small stitch length. On the cotton, however…

As you can see, there is almost no difference between the different stitch lenghts. Even at the longest stitch length, you can’t speak of ruffles or fabric gathering. On stiffer fabrics, I’d gather the fabric manually.


Difficulty level: Beginner
Used Products:
bernette 38
bernette 38

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  • Vikki Howard EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I’m a beginning sewer and have enjoyed my new B38 for several weeks. I want to try gathering, but I can’t seem to figure out the secret to attaching the gathering foot. It doesn’t click on as easily as the other feet I’ve tried. What am I doing wrong?

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