UtahGmah99 posted a fantastic question on my Tutu Tutorial video on YouTube and I thought that it would be pretty informative to post the question and answer here.  You know, so that I could elaborate (and use urls, and symbols, and more than 250 words, or risk having to give YouTube my first born).

She asked:

“Have you ever used a gathering foot? It also does pleats. If so how did it work?  My granddaughter wants a tutu for her dance class. Thanks.”

And the answer?  Yes!  I have!  But, if you know me by now, which I think you do, well…I kinddddddd of like to do things the old fashioned way.  Which means hours of seemingly endless hand-pleating and gathering.  I blame it on the fact that the first sewing how-to book I read was Couture Sewing Techniques and that I was taught by my mom who was taught by my depression-era, feedsack-sewin’ grandmother.

Gathered Skirt

I find that with a great –> excellent sewing machine and a medium-weight fabric, a gathering foot or ruffler is a lightening quick way to gather and/or make small pleats (and pretty dang mesmerizing to watch!).  With tulle or fabrics of extreme weight, + or – an okay machine, you get a considerable amount of bobbin tangling, needle breaking, and fabric clumping.  BUT it is completely possible!  Once you master the ins and outs of your machine and the particular ruffler or gathering foot that you use, you can be on your way to shaving hours off your sewing day.

Here are some of the best videos on youtube that show you how to use both a ruffler and a simple gathering foot.  Note that only the ruffler can be used for pleating, and even then they are very small pleats (practically gathers).


On ruffling:

And gathering!:



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