Monday, October 21, 2013

Sewing 101: Ruffler Foot Guide

It's Monday! You know Monday's never meant anything to me until my kids started school. Now they are known as the day I No Longer Get To Sleep In. Huh ...? Have I digressed? I'm fairly certain I did my time. All 13 years of it.

On a blog related note, Ucreate posted a funny thing on Facebook this morning: determine your sewing name. Mine is Sassy Machine Master! I dig it. Why is this blog related? Because we're talking about sewing today. I'm sure the pinnable image was a dead giveaway. If you recall our Presser Feet Guide, you may remember discussing the Ruffler Foot, a presser foot designed to create perfectly pleated ruffles. It is hands down one of my favorite sewing attachments, and I thought it would be great to give you instructions on how to use it. 

I wanted to do a video tutorial, but it appears my camera bag, which contained my video camera, has gone missing. Err... At first I thought, No big deal, I can record on the laptop. Then the hard drive on that crashed. Well now! So ... we needed to settle for pictures. My apologies. But I will do my best to describe everything. The ruffler foot looks a little intimidating, but it's really not. In fact, it's fascinating to see it work. And I promise it will make your life so much easier.

Note, when purchasing a ruffler foot, it is best to buy one that is by the same brand as your sewing machine. Some say they're universal, but that is not always true.

Remove any current presser foot you may have in place and unscrew your shank.

Angle your foot so that the fork arm hooks under your needle holder, hook it around your shank holder, then screw it in. Be careful to hold it in place while you screw it in, as it will give a small amount. 

To ensure it is properly installed, slowly hand crank your needle. It should go directly down into the small hole designated for it. If it doesn't go smoothly, or feels like it sticks somewhat, unscrew it and readjust. If you try sewing immediately and it is off ever the slightest mm, your needle will snap. 

There are three main parts to this foot you are going to be working with in order to create your ruffles: the ratchet gear feed plate, the cloth guide, and the depth adjustment screw. You may also use your machine's stitch length.

In the picture to the left, we have the ratchet gear feed plate. This determines the number of ruffles you get. The star on the far left gives a straight stitch (no gather), the "12" gathers once every 12 stitches, the "6" every 6 stitches, and the "1" will gather with every stitch. For ruffles I like mine set at "6" and for gathering I use the "1" setting. 

In the right photo we have the cloth guide (the snake-like piece) and the depth adjustment screw. The cloth guide guides your fabric, holding it securely to create those perfect pleats. The adjustment screw works in sync with the ratchet gear feed plate to create custom pleats. The depth screw will determine the depth of your pleat, smaller taking small bits of fabric and larger taking bigger sections of fabric.

There are two cloth guides, one on the right and one in the front. We're going to work with the larger one on the front. This step is very important to ensuring your fabric is pulled properly through the ruffling blade. Place your fabric over the first part of the cloth guide as shown in the second photo, under the middle piece (photo 3), then up and through to the needle. You are basically just weaving it through the cloth guide, starting on top. It is a little difficult to get down at first. I use my screw driver to help guide and push it through.

As I mentioned before your stitch length will also determine the size of your ruffles. The shorter your stitch length is the tighter your ruffle will be  and vice versa. In this photo I have my stitch length set to "3" and am gathering every 6 stitches. (Before pressing your pedal, be sure your top and bobbin thread are pulled to the back. Also, do let the loose threads get caught in your sewing or they will cause the ruffles to curl considerably.) Begin sewing and watch the magic happen as that ruffling blade (the piece with the teeth on the front) pulls and tucks your fabric!

Now that we know how to use the ruffler foot, this Anthro-hack will be coming soon!
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