How to Use a Ruffler Foot to Alter a Blouse

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How to Use a Ruffler Foot to Alter a Blouse

As you know, I posted a How To on duplicating store bought clothes by making your own pattern. One of the things I warn you about is using the same cloth to make the duplicate that was used for the original blouse.

The reason I mention this is that that was one of the mistakes I made in the learning process. I copied a knit blouse, but used a cotton plaid cloth. The hips were just a wee bit to snug and really, the whole blouse was just a bit too short.

The first thing I did when the blouse was short, was to rip out the lower seven inches of the side seams so I had 'walking room'. I hemmed the raw edges of both sides. You often do the same thing on the lower sides seams of a long skirt.

So far so good, but when I realized that it's shortness was driving me crazy, I decided to add a ruffle. All well and good but now I have a these flaps.

I needed a solid lower edge of the blouse to attach the ruffle to. So I decided to make what I call a "V-patch". I laid the side seam of the blouse out totally flat and spread the front and back flaps open in a "v" shape. Then I slipped a square patch of matching fabric underneath. I pinned the hemmed edges right on top and top-stitched through all layers. I folded the lower edge of the patch and hemmed it just the same as the blouse.

To add a ruffle to a blouse with a ruffler foot.
  • First cut off a strip that is about 2 times longer than the actual width of the lower edge of the blouse.
  •   Next hem the strip with a narrow hem.
  • Then attach the ruffler foot to the machine. You have to loosen the screw and remove your original foot completely, attach the two fingers of the ruffler foot around the post and screw that normally holds a foot to the machine, but at the same time you have to hook the claw on the right side of the ruffler foot around the post that holds the needle in place. (It's the screw you loosen to remove and change the needle.)   Pictured first is the WRONG way to attach it.
(Wrong way) To the left, the two fingers  of the arm that attaches the foot to the machine is ready to grab the post and the screw and be tightened down. However the long claw arm is not in the right position. It needs to be hooked on to the post of the screw that you turn to loosen and allow the changing and removal of the needle on the upper right side of the sewing machine post.

(Right way.)Here, they are now both headed for the right position at the same time.This is a little tricky, but can be done!

HOW THE RUFFLER FOOT WORKS:  The ruffler foot won't work without the up down action of the post that holds the needle. That claw has to be in place. It loosely holds the post of the screw that you turn to remove the needle. When the needle goes up and down, this causes a little upper plate of the ruffler foot  to scoot forwards and backwards which pushes the cloth forward each time to make a pucker.  There is a lower plate and the two meet and pinch together. Your cloth needs to be inserted between the upper and lower thin metal plates of the foot and slid between the pinch. 

The cloth should not be directly in contact with your lower feed dogs and completely under the ruffler foot.  (Actually the reason for this, is that you could put another piece of cloth completely beneath the ruffler foot and it would allow you to make the ruffle and sew it to the blouse at the same time. This requires some practice so I'm just showing you how to make the ruffle by itself!)

  • Once you have fed the ruffle strip in between the two thin plates of the ruffler foot, lower your presser foot.  It won't work if you don't do this.  (See Ruffler Foot Video Part 1) in previous post.

  • Then you also want to decide where to set the little flat plate with the holes on the back of the ruffler foot. The hole furthest to the left allows you to sew with no ruffle action at all.  
( That way, after you have made the ruffle, rather than removing the foot and putting a regular foot on, you can just sew normally by putting the two pieces of cloth that you want to sew completely underneath the foot as if it wasn't a ruffler foot at all. If that was the case you would not slip anything between the two ruffle plates. Just put everything completely under the foot and against the feed dogs like normal.)
  • Setting the pucker width.  The next hole has a 12 on it. That setting is for a very tight gathering. The next hole to the right is a 6. It gives you a pucker every half inch or so.  The hole furthest to the right #1 allows for a pucker every inch or so. It results in a gentle ruffle.
  • Once you have inserted the cloth strip for the ruffle, and you have set your pucker spacing, and lowered the presser foot, all you have to do is step on the pedal and gently feed the cloth, keeping the raw edge straight while the ruffler foot grabs and tucks the cloth under the needle allowing it to sew the tucks in place.  (See Ruffler Video Part 2)
  • Let the machine do the just keep the cloth loose and available for the foot to pull on. Take it at a nice slow speed.  (See Ruffler Video Part 3) for close up view.

Now, to add the ruffle...

Rather than cut off the blouse hem and sew the ruffle to the blouse with the right sides together, I just laid the raw edge of the hemmed ruffle, just under the finished hem of the blouse, pinned it in place and top stitched it down too.

I did zig-zag the raw edges of the ruffle first to keep the cotton from unraveling.
(This is a tight gather using the #12 setting)

I really think it turned out to be a pretty cute blouse for someone with my figure and shape. I was afraid the ruffle would add too much to the hips, but in a way, it may have 'camouflaged' them instead. My sleeves should have been puffier to make this a really balanced design..I'm serious considering re-doing them too.

Ah well..the ups and downs of designing your own clothes! But hey, I like it just fine and I love the cute ruffle. Hubby likes it too, so I would say it passed muster! Don't you?

1 comment

mickey said...

That's really cute; the ruffle works well there!

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