Gathering Foot VS. Ruffler Foot

October 20, 2023
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What was once a tedious and often frustrating technique of manually gathering and pleating fabric can now be achieved effortlessly with either a Gathering Foot or a Ruffler Foot. Both are great accessories to make your sewing life a little easier and faster. There are, however, a few differences between the two. The fabric is gathered differently with a Ruffler than with a Gathering Foot, so the end result looks slightly different. The way I see it, the Gathering Foot is great for normal, generic gathers, whereas the Ruffler Foot is more customizable and more versatile. The Ruffler foot takes a little more thought, whereas with the gathering foot you can just install and sew. 

Gathering Foot

The gathering foot is really quite simple. You just slide fabric under the foot and sew. The volume of your gathers depends mostly on your tension. A tension of 7 is going create fuller gathers than a tension of 5. Also, a stitch length of 3.0 creates a little more volume than a stitch length of 5.0. 

 Tension: 7 - Stitch Length: 3.0

 Tension: 7 - Stitch Length: 5.0

Tension: 5 - Stitch Length: 5.0 You may want even more body in your gather and thus will need to manually pull on the needle threads to bunch up the fabric. Just make sure you don't back stitch. Simply knot the ends when you're satisfied with the volume. A great feature of the Gathering Foot is the ability to gather and sew on a flat piece of a fabric at the same time. The fabric to be gathered goes under the presser foot. The fabric to remain "flat" slides into the top groove of the presser foot. So simple! This can take a little bit of practice to master, but none the less it is a total time saver and looks terrific!

Tension: 7 - Stitch Length: 5.0 I don't know about you, but about a million different apron ideas are going through my mind while looking at this!

The Ruffler

This contraption may look a little intimidating, but I promise it's totally worth taking 15 minutes to get to know this little guy. Why? Because it is AWESOME! Basically, it pleats your fabric. However, it pleats your fabric at 3 different stitch intervals, which can be customized even further by adjusting your stitch length! But, wait, there's more. You can also adjust the depth of the pleat by turning the screw on the front of the foot. Sweet! Here is what you need to know to install it. Just like any other foot, you'll attach it via the shank screw.

 Next, you slide the big 'U' shaped hook on to the needle screw. Be sure to test that your needle will go through the hole correctly. When you're ready to sew your fabric, you slide your fabric through the following the arrows.

 There are 3 things to consider when using your Ruffler. Take a look at the numbers located on the front of your Ruffler.

Star Regular straight stitch - No Pleating
12 A pleat every 12 stitches - least amount of Ruffling
6 A pleat every 6 stitches - medium amount of Ruffling
1 A pleat every 1 stitch - Maximum amount of Ruffling

 Simply lift up on the lever to select the number you want. To further adjust the fullness of your ruffles, you will need to change your stitch length. A smaller stitch length equals more ruffles. A larger stitch length equals less ruffles. Let's compare.

Ruffle Setting: 12 - Stitch Length= 3.0 / Ruffle Setting: 12 - Stitch Length: 5.0

 Ruffler Setting: 6 - Stitch Length: 3.0 / Ruffle Setting: 6 - Stitch Length: 5.0

Ruffle Setting: 1 - Stitch Length: 3.0 / Ruffle Setting: 1 - Stitch Length: 5.0 Pretty awesome, huh? Just like a Gathering Foot, you can join a 'flat' piece of fabric to the ruffled fabric. You slide the fabric in just as you do normally. Then you slide in the straight piece of fabric beneath the fabric to be ruffled. Follow the blue line for the straight piece of fabric. This may take a little bit of wiggling and maneuvering to get everything in correctly.

Pardon my Pucker. I enjoyed sewing with both feet, but I had the most fun with the Ruffler Foot. I like how much it can be customized. Remember, the Ruffler Foot creates pleats. The Gathering Foot creates traditional gathers. Both are time savers and great accessories to own.
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