Ruffles. Bet you can't use them just once. We've added ruffles to a number of recent projects, and so thought we'd take the time to talk about the accessory that makes our ruffling easier and faster: the Ultimate Ruffler from Janome. This attachment is designed to work with any machine that can accept a snap-on presser foot, which means you don't have to have a Janome. Other machine manufacturers make similar attachments, which work in the same way. It's time to go from flat to frilly.
You can certainly ruffle a single layer of fabric, in fact, some people like to ruffle raw-edged fabric to create a chic frayed look. But for our purposes, we're going to work with the most common fabric treatment for ruffling: the folded strip.
- The rule of thumb for how long your flat strip of fabric should be is approximately 2½ times the length of the edge to which you're applying the ruffle. For example, if you have a 20" x 20" pillow that you want to have a ruffle all around the edge, you would multiple 20" x 4 to get the perimeter measurement (80"), then multiply that measurement by 2.5 (80" x 2.5 = 200"). You will cut all the way across the width of your fabric to get your length. If the fabric has a width of 44" (don't count the selvedges; you want to trim these off), you need to divide the finished length by the width of the fabric to figure out how many WOF (width of fabric) strips to cut. In our sample, 140" divided by 44" = 3.18. Always round UP, so cut 4 strips. That will be plenty.
- The width of the strip is simply the finished width you want plus your seam allowance multiplied by two, because you will fold the strip in half. Let's say we want a 2½" ruffle on our pillow. Our equation would be 2½" plus a ½" seam allowance times 2 = 6".
- In our example, we would cut FOUR 6" x WOF strips.
- Stitch your strips together end-to-end to create one long strip. Press all short seams open.
- Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press.
- Attach the ruffler to your sewing machine. You'll need to remove the machine's regular presser foot, slide the ruffler under the now-empty presser foot ankle, with the black 'c-hook' OVER the needle screw, then snap the ruffler into place.
- Select a straight stitch, and test your needle drop to make sure it goes in and out of the needle hole in the ruffler easily. There are adjusting screws on the ruffler to move the opening to best match your needle drop.
- Set the number of stitches between the ruffles by selecting one of the slots on the front of the ruffler. The '1 slot' is a ruffle every stitch. The '6 slot' is every six stitches, and the '12 slot' is every twelve stitches. The six and twelve options are really pleats rather than ruffles.
- Then, set the depth with the screw on the side of the ruffler. The standard ratio is 2 to 1. Tighten to deepen, loosen for a shallower fold. It's important to test gather some practice strips to get the look you want. There really isn't a chart of exactly what settings to use for which applications. It's all about your taste and the finished look you're going for.
- Insert the raw edges of your folded strip into the slit at the front of the ruffler.
- Drop your needle, and start gathering. Keep your fabric moving smoothly and make sure you have enough room at the back of your machine for the gathered strip to accumulate.
- You do not back tack at the beginning or the end of your gathering, because you want the gathers to be able to be adjusted slightly to best fit the edge to which they will be applied.
- Move the front arm into the '6 slot' and tighten the depth screw to create pleats every six stitches.
- Move the front arm into the '12 slot' and tighten the depth screw a bit more to create pleats every twelve stitches.
- You now have beautiful, long strips of ruffles or pleats to add to your project.
- Janome has two good video tutorials on their Ultimate Ruffler on their website. One shows basic gathering and pleating and the other explains how to use the ruffler to attach lace while gathering.