Steph’s Ruffled Royal Flower Show Cushion Project: created using Bernina Ruffler Foot #86

Difficulty level Intermediate
Time to Complete Weekend


Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion project
Picture: Steph with ruffled cushion

Our sewing expert, Steph, brings you a fabulous and summery home décor project this month!

Steph shows you how to make (or up-cycle an existing cushion to create) a beautiful and decorative ruffled flower cushion. In this exciting project she demonstrates how to use Bernina Ruffler Foot #86 to effortlessly rufffle/pleat fabric to create a stunning flower-like may look complicated, yet it really isn't!

Read on, follow her step-by-step guide, create your own cushion and bring some summer vibrancy into your home!

You will need:

  • Bernina sewing machine
  • Ruffler Foot #86
This is a guide to a cushion insert of 32 x 52
Fabric sizing and amounts may differ depending on the cushion size used
  • Cushion insert
  • Fabric for cushion: 70 x 34 (front) - 60 x 34. This was for my insert.
Existing Cushion (if you want to upcycle)
  • Range of different colour silks for the flowers - 5 colours x 1/2 meter of silk (or similar)
Cut this into strips of 10cm across the width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge)
  • Thread to match
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Glue gun / strong fabric glue - if you do not want to hand sew flowers to cushion
  • Scissors
The Bernina Ruffler Foot #86 is June 2018’s Accessory of the Month at a 20% discount! The special offer price is £64 (regular price: £80) – this promotion will run from 5th June 2018 until 2nd July 2018.

Click here to visit the Bernina online shop.

Find out more about Ruffler Foot #86 by clicking here.

Picture: Steph’s Ruffled Royal Flower Show Cushion Project

Overview of the Ruffler Foot:

It looks complicated - yet it really isn’t!

Settings will need to be adjusted due to preference, technique and fabric type.
To set the pleating frequency, use the adjusting lever at the front of the foot, you can see this demonstrated here:

1 - Ruffles every stitch
6 - Ruffles every 6 stitches
12 - Makes a pleat every 12 stitches
0 - Does not pleat/ruffle
The length of the stitch can alter the look, only a straight stitch can be used. There is a screw at the front of the foot that can be adjusted - this determines the density of the pleat.

Would not recommend very thick layers of fabric - lengthen stitch length and test slowly on one layer of the fabric. If using one layer of fabric, think about how to edge the fabric if it frays. You could use a rolled hem, decorative stitch, binding, blind hem etc. You will want to do this before gathering.

Attach the foot similar to the walking foot - the fork has to sit around the needle bar.
Gathering is performed by the special blade, this moves with the movement of the needle - making it catch the fabric each time and push it under the needle.
Insert fabric between ruffler blade and separator blade. Pull the fabric through until the feed dogs can grip the fabric.
You can ruffle/pleat a strip of fabric effortlessly to a flat piece of fabric. Place flat piece of fabric underneath the ruffler foot complete, watch it here:

This should be right side up.

Insert the fabric that you intend to pleat into the foot between the ruffler and separator blade. This fabric needs to be right side down. I would suggest sew testing the gathering fabric to see how much it shrinks down by. You will then be able to work out how much fabric you will need.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project


There are more instructional images to guide you available in the project’s downloadable PDF.

Stage 1 - Constructing the Cushion

You may have an existing cushion that you would like to spruce up, yet here are my instructions on how to construct your own. As my cushion is a rectangle, I chose to construct the cushion cover like a pillow case. The construction and fastening of your cushion will be determined on the size. You may want to insert a zip, buttons or have the cushion cover sealed.

1. Here’s the maths that I did, which led me to cut the correct amount of fabric. My cushion insert was 52 x32. My seam allowances were 1cm, this was added to the top, bottom and sealed side on both the front and back.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

2. The front piece (70 x 34cm) on the opening side had 15cm added to it, this is the facing that the cushion will sit in. I added another 2cm for the hem. This was folded 1 cm, then another 1cm and edge stitched using Bernina Foot #10. Once hemmed, fold the fabric over by 15cm and press.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

3. The back piece (60 x 34cm). On the open edge, I hemmed the fabric by folding over 2cm and then by 5cm. I edge stitched the hem to secure.
4. Pin the fabric right sides together, sew along the three sealed edges. If you have an overlocker - you may want to overlock these edges. Alternatively, you can serpentine stitch around them. Dependent on your fabric - you may benefit using the Bernina Walking Foot, this will stop the top layer from moving faster than the bottom fabric. When you sew at the opening of the cushion, I’d recommend to strengthen this by reverse stitching a few times. This needs to be strong so that it doesn't come apart over time.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

Stage 2 - Ruffler Flower Construction

1. To create the ruffled flowers - fold the lengths of silk in half - right sides together. Using the reverse pattern foot #1. Sew a straight stitch 1cm away from the edge of each end. Turn the fabric the correct way and push corners through.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

2. Use the Serpentine stitch #4 to sew along the open side to seal. I would suggest to lengthen this stitch and to butt up the inside of the right part of the foot to the fabric. You want to stitch near to the edge. Another benefit of doing this stitch is so that the ruffler foot treats this as one layer of fabric. If you had movement between the top and bottom layer that you are trying to ruffle, they will creep. The top layer would move more than the lower layer, causing the seam at the end of the fabric to appear more on the top.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

3. Attach the ruffler foot. The fork of the foot sits around the needle bar. Attach the cone of the foot and secure. Select the pleating frequency to ruffle every one stitch by selecting the lever to 1. Select a straight stitch with a length of 3.5.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

4. Insert the fabric between the ruffler blade and separating blade, pulling the fabric through until it is in position under the needle. Don’t forget to lower the presser foot.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

5. While sewing at a steady slow speed, guide the fabric through. Help the ruffler blade by gently pushing fabric towards it so it can grab it. Have your hand to the side to help the ruffles through from the foot.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

6. Once complete, Use the natural curl within the ruffled strip to manipulate into a flower. Gently roll it around itself and pin in place. Hand sew to secure. I pinned mine onto my cushion, this helped me to see where I wanted to place them and how many I needed to do. Try to place the flowers so that the same colour is not touching. I chose to cover my whole cushion tightly. You could get creative with the placement of your flowers - try them around the edge of the cushion, or even to just one side. You could even just do a few dotted around with free motion embroidery stems.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

It is now time to attach the flowers to your cushion cover… this can be done in a couple of ways!

Stage 3 - Attatching the Flowers

1. Hand sew the flowers onto your cushion - this can take time, yet it will be worth it as they will be more secure. You can even hand sew a button into each flower.

Another option is to glue gun each flower on. This is a lot easier as the flowers can be quite thick in places and need a lot of hand sewing strength! It is also a lot quicker. Dependent on the strength of your glue and how much use the cushion gets - the flowers may come off. I would only recommend the glue gun if the cushion is for decorative use only.

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

Just how wonderful does your flower cushion look?!
It’s time for a well deserved sit down...

Picture: Steph's Ruffled Flower Cushion Project

Bild: 125 years Kleid

Bild: 125 years Kleid

Bild: 125 years Kleid

Now that you've mastered ruffling...

I am sure you're excited to find out what we'll be exploring next!

Well, make sure to check our website regularly as we will be putting out a brand new project, designed exclusively by a Bernina UK team member, EVERY MONTH!
Next month we will be broadcasting a Summer Special Webinar focused on ruler work. More details and info on how to sign up will be posted on our social media platforms and this space.

Bernina UK - Summer Webinar 2018...coming to a screen near you very soon!