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How to use a ruffler

maddie964 | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello everyone. I just bought a ruffler and already am having problems. I figured out how ruffle the fabric but once I take it out, the ruffler are tight and they fall out. What am I doing wrong?? Please HELP!


  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    Are you making a separate piece of ruffled cloth, or are you adding a ruffle to something else?

    Check your thread tension, is your thread breaking? or is the bobbin tension wrong? what machine are you using?

    I would gladly help but I need more information,


    1. User avater
      maddie964 | | #2

      I'm using a Singer Protegé. My thread tension is on auto. I'm not attaching the ruffle to anything else. First I have to figure out how to make a ruffle. Then I will figure out how to attach it to something. If you figure this out...i want to say before....Thank you Thank you Thank you for helping me!

      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #5

        Since I can't see what your ruffler is doing, I'll show you mine... maybe something in these photos will help you figure out your problem.

        Hope this helps,


        PS I used the blue thread so it would show up against the pink!

        Edited 6/22/2007 5:16 pm ET by Becky-book

        1. Ralphetta | | #6

          I think that a few weeks ago someone posted a website that showed video of a ruffler being used.  Does anyone remember, or know where to find it?

        2. MaryinColorado | | #7

          Those are excellent pictures of the ruffler at work!  Mary

        3. jatman | | #19

          Hi Becky-book!  I was just reading this thread and looking at your photos and your machine looks like an old treadle machine.  I didn't realize those machines had attachments?  Did you inherit or purchase the attachments with the machine or get them after the fact?  And if you got them later, where did you get them and how many other attachments do you have?

          I have an old Singer from the early 1900's and wasn't aware that there were any attachments available for it. 

          Thank you for any info!


          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #20

            Hey, JT!

            The machine in the photo is not a treadle; it is a direct drive (no belt at all) the wheel rests on a rubber hub extension of the motor. And it works the opposite of modern machines, the wheel rotates the other way around, makes for a momentary confusion on my part when I change machines!  Its motor plate states that the model was patented in 1927 by the White Corp.  and it has "Majestic" in gold on the arm.  A box of various attachments came with it, ruffler included.  Have you ever seen a rolled hem foot that makes a 1 inch fold!  This machine has several different widths of hem feet!  Too bad the foot attachment system is totally different than my modern machine, or else I'd use "Thumper's" feet on it! (She is called Thumper because the rubber hub has a couple flat spots so she doesn't run smoothly!) My friend inherited it from her grandmother but she doesn't sew, so she gave it to me to use for sewing lessons.

            Ruffler for treadle machine... I know they exist because I once owned one! Couldn't keep that machine when we moved south so I sold it to a friend, including all the attachments.  Sorry I can't tell you where to find one except Google it! (or e-bay)

            Hope this helps,



          2. jatman | | #21

            Oh that is SO COOL!  Thank you for taking the pics and thank you for explaining it to me.  I'd send you a picture of my Singer treadle but it's in storage right now.  I bought mine at a yard sale - they wanted $45 for it but I had only $42 on me so they took that.  I had to take it apart to get it up the stairs since it weighed more than I did and I lived on the third floor.  It survived a tornado (got blown into the middle of the room and turned over) with almost no consequences to it and it still works beautifully.  I just love the old ones but they can't do the fancy stuff that the new ones can...or so I thought.  When I get mine out of storage I'm going to do some research to find out if it has any attachments.  Thank you again Becky-book!


          3. User avater
            Becky-book | | #22

            Yes the old ones had quite a charm!  I bought my treadle for $25 at a yard sale, not working.  Cleaned it up and replaced the belt and she ran fine!  Sold her for $75 and that was still a bargan.


          4. Ralphetta | | #23

            Maybe I missed this in the previous messages but is your machine sewing properly without the ruffler?  Do you only have the excess loops at that time?  I'm asking because my mother used to sell machines and anytime I would complain about my machine she would immediately ask if I had the needle in right.  If you are used to inserting the needle with the eye F to B and then get a machine that does it side to side, it's easy to forget the change.

          5. User avater
            maddie964 | | #26

            my machine doesn't sew properly ever! and i took it in today..and it worked perfrectly! just my luck!

          6. Ralphetta | | #27

            Bummer!  I hate it when that happens and get paranoid because I suspect they think I'm some kind of "crazy."  Maybe packing it up jarred something back into place.

          7. B | | #29


            Try joining the VintageSingers Yahoo group for any questions on old Singers.  Yes, you can buy lots of attachments (probably all straight stitch) for old sewing machines.  I believe a Greist brand was used for most of them and they are around (thrift shops, Ebay, members of that group, etc.).  I have a 30's treadle (not Singer) that came with a box of neat attachments-binder, ruffler.) My zz Singers from the early '60s both have rufflers, etc. so I may not even buy a ruffler for my newer machine.


            Edited 6/29/2007 2:45 pm ET by B

            Edited 6/29/2007 2:46 pm ET by B

          8. jatman | | #30

            Hi B!  Yahoo has a group for everything don't they?  I love the internet!  I will join that one today.  Thank you for the info!


  2. suesew | | #3

    This may be a stupid question, but are you using thread.? Has your bobbin run out? If you are sewing it as it goes through the ruffler I don't see how it can fall out. Perhaps you aren't feeding it far enough to the right so it goes under the needle. You can also adjust the bite by changing the stitch length and by changing how often it takes that bite so that you can do a less tight ruffle.

    1. User avater
      maddie964 | | #4

      It's not a stupid question. Both my bobbing and spool of thread are full. The fabric is in the foot because when I pull it out...the ruffles fall apart. Hmm....I still can't figure it out!

  3. sewchris703 | | #8

    Try tightening your top tension.  When I use my ruffler, I have to tighten the top tension.  If I don't, the top thread creates loops on  the underside.  If you have loops, then the bobbin thread just pulls out when you take the fabric out of the machine.


    1. User avater
      maddie964 | | #10

      That's exactly what is happening...there are loops on the bottom of the fabric and when I take out the fabric....poof..the ruffle comes out. I am pretty sure my bobbin is broken though. I bought a Singer machine from Target 6 months ago, not know I would get this involved. My dad just agreed to buy me a new machine. So now the question is..does anyone have any recommendations for a GOOD sewing machine for a newbie who wants to get serious.
      PS Thanks for the pictures!

      1. sewchris703 | | #11

        I have used a ruffler on Kenmores, Phaffs, Elnas, Whites, Brothers, and Singers.  I have always had to tighten the upper tension on all of them when using the ruffler.  I think that the action of the ruffler puts too much play in the needle thread so tightening the tension helps eliminate that.

        Out of all the brands that I have sewn on, I love the Kenmores the best.  They have lasted me for 20+ years with no trouble.  But there is no dealer service after the sale so you might want to buy from a dealer that offers after sale service in answering questions and give lessons.  A good dealer will have a relationship with you for years, not just sell you a machine.


      2. MaryinColorado | | #12

        There is lots of info here on machines and at http://www.patternreview.com  go to the left column here and do a search for new machines, sewing machines, buying machines, etc  Hope this helps

      3. ctirish | | #13

        Maddie, You can spend anywhere from $300 to 10,000. on a sewing machine. I would decide how much Dad is willing to chip in, first, Thank him for all of use who believe sewing is a great hobby to learn.  You can find a machine that does the basics for under $1000.00.  Then I would read through all of ther reviews on patternreview.com and figure out which features you want on your machine.   I wouldn't buy one thinking you are going to use it exclusively for the rest of your life. Buy one for what you want to do now and later on you can always add to your sewing machine collection as you gain experience and want to try new things.  

        Did you get your ruffler working OK?  You should be able to do that even if you are getting a new machine.


      4. User avater
        Becky-book | | #14

        Please make sure the bobbin is broken before you spend more $$$ on another machine.  If it only 6 months old, is it still under warranty?  Even a cheap machine should last longer than that!

        Does it have obvious breakage? ie 2 pieces that should be 1? or bent pieces that used to be straight?

        Does the actual bobbin (the little spool that holds the thread) fit nicely into the case or what ever devise holds it in place?  Some cheap bobbins that claim to fit this machine may not actually work well for you!

        Is the bobbin area clean, no dust balls or thread pieces?

        Are you sure you have it threaded properly? Needle and bobbin!

        If it has auto tension adjust, can you override it and set your own tension?

        Hope this helps,


        1. User avater
          maddie964 | | #15

          When I sew a regular stitch...the bobbin thread is loose even if i make the tension tighterWhen I sew with the ruffle...it looks like there are a thousand bobbin threads...and the machine eventually stops because the threads are stuckMy machine has already broken four times in the past six months...all having to do with the bobbin....Thanks for all your help though! I REALLY REALLY APPRECIATE IT!Maddie

          1. sewchris703 | | #16

            Loose loopy thread on the bottom usually means that the top thread isn't going through the top tension correctly.  So maybe it's your top tension and not the bobbin.  Anything from you're not threading it right to the tension assembly needs to be replaced/fixed.  Can you take the machine back to where you got it fixed before and ask them to watch you thread the machine to see if that corrects the problem before you spend more money?


          2. solosmocker | | #24

            I just wanted to say that this experienced sewist had something similar happen the other day. I tried all sorts of tension adjustment, etc. to fix the situation and I kept getting the bobbin nest. It turned out that as I was packing up my sewing for the day, out of frustration, a glance at one of the thread guides showed me there was no thread in it. I only picked that up by accident. Once I got the thread back in the "up and down" thread guide, I was back in business. I have been stitching happily since then. Just one more thing you might want to check. Make sure all the thread paths are engaged and threaded properly.

          3. User avater
            maddie964 | | #25

            yeh...and when i took the machine in today...it worked! just my luck!

          4. Ralphetta | | #17

            When you say the bobbin threads, do you mean the underneath thread?  If so, then the problem is not the bobbin but the upper needle/threading.  If the problem is with the bobbin, the thread on top would be messed-up.

            Edited 6/26/2007 11:22 pm ET by Ralphetta

          5. ctirish | | #18

            Maddie, Before you trade in the machine, I would try threading it several times. It does sound like you are threading it wrong or it isn't catching everywhere it should catch. I went through a phase where I could not thread my machine for anything. I would ask my daughter to thread it for me. To this day I don't know what I was doing wrong. Try getting the book out and going through it one step at a time. It is so frustrating when you are trying to sew and the machine doesn't cooperate. I do think sewing machines have their own personalities. She probably heard you talking about a new machine. Even if you get a new machine it never hurts to have a backup for emergencies or when your new one is in the shop for tuneups. I just had my old serger tuned up so I can use it just for a 4 thread overlock and then I use my newer one for coverstitching and all the other stitches that require changing the tension on the machine. The old one does a great 4 thread overlock and a great rolled hem. Changing the settings on the new one is so much easier for coverstitch, flatlock, and fancy threads. jane

            Edited 6/27/2007 9:26 pm ET by ctirish

  4. meg | | #9

    Are your top thread and bobbin thread making a loop? I wonder if your needle might be too dull to dig all the way through the many layers of fabric and the top thread cannot connect with the mechanism below to meet up with the bobbin thread.

  5. Minnie63 | | #28

    It sounds like the machine isn't threaded correctly. As far as the ruffler, you have to make sure your needle stays tight, it does come loose, and the "hook" of the ruffler has to be attached to the needle screwer thingy. Hope I haven't confused you.

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