Ruffle Gathering Tip

I LOVE this tip from Debbie at SquigglyTwiggs. I hate having to pull threads!


I've been doing a lot of ruffling lately and wanted to find an easier/quicker way before making this skirt. I had no desire to pull miles of thread for this one.

My serger would allow me to gather by changing the tension settings. We did the same with another friends serger. That got me to thinking I might be able to gather by changing tension on my sewing machine. Sure enough it works. Now this type of gathering is not as even and beautiful as if you ran two or three rows of thread and pulled it up yourself. But, honestly, unless you are sewing an heirloom garment that requires intense attention to detail, this will work just fine.

This picture shows the fabric going under the presserfoot flat and coming out gathered. I apologize for poor lighting. I sew in the basement. It's the best I could do down there.

How to gather with this method?

Set your machine to the longest stitch. Move your top tension to a higher number. To determine the tension number that meets the ruffle ratio your wanting, measure a piece of scrap fabric (similar type) and sew. Measure again. Not gathered enough, raise the tension number. Too many gathers, lower the tension number. Make the adjustments until you get close to the ratio you want.

For example:
Your skirt is 20", your ruffle is 1.5X (30"). You want your ruffle to become 20". Use a 15" of scrap, set your tension a little higher than normal and your stitch length at it's longest, sew. Measure, close to 10? Good your ratio is at 1.5. Too short? Lower tension. Too long? Raise tension. Cut off your stitch and try again until you get close.

When you sew your ruffle, leave the beginning and ending threads long so you can adjust your ruffle some when you go to attach it to your garment.

I've used this ruffle method on sheers, t-shirt type knits, and quilter's cotton.

Make sure you reset your machine tension before sewing normally again.

Happy Sewing!!

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