Sewing Machine Feet seen from close up

Your sewing machine probably came with several different presser feet. But, how many sewing machine feet do you use? After all, your sewing machine came with an attached all-purpose foot, which means it is good for almost all purposes, right? There is some truth to it, but avoiding to use different presser feet puts some limitations to both your creativity as well as to the quality of your work. If you are just entering the world of sewing, you might be overwhelmed with many things you have to learn. And it is perfectly fine. But, sooner or later you will yearn to upgrade your skills and take on more elaborate projects. Sometimes, all you need to do is to change your presser foot. Specific presser feet would allow you to open whole new chapters of your sewing adventures.

Have you ever wondered why you love sewing? Well, it is a topic that I could talk or write about all day long. So, I’ll leave it for another occasion. But, if I have to choose one thing only, it would be a limitless space for creativity and improvement. In sewing, you can’t beat the game. There are always possibilities for new chapters, new ways, and new ideas. So, if you are at the beginning of your journey, you should consider using different presser feet. Chances are you will soon think about purchasing additional presser feet. Regardless of your skillset, an adequate sewing machine feet for a specific project will make a world of difference. But, first, you need to know how to identify different presser feet and learn what are their specific purposes.

Presser Feet Basic Facts

Different kinds of presser feet have different specific purposes, but all of them have a basic function of holding the fabric flat while it is fed through the machine. It prevents the fabric from puckering while it is stitched. When it comes to specific purposes I will come back to it later. It is important to know that not every presser foot will fit your machine. You should always check out compatibility before you purchase one. However, there are some helpful guidelines.

There are three basic types of presser feet: high shank, low shank, and slant shank presser feet. Actually, slant shank type can be found exclusively on some Singer models. It is easy to recognize each type. A high shank presser foot is one inch long from the bottom to the center of the screw. A low shank presser foot will measure half an inch from the bottom to the center of the screw. And slant shank is slanted. 

Most of the home machines are low shank, except for some high-end embroidery machines. Older machines have screw-on sewing machine feet and you could only use the type that matches your machine. Modern machines have snap-on presser feet. Most of the snap-on feet will fit both high shank and low shank machines. However, some manufacturers like Bernina have specific shank technology so you will need an adapter to be able to snap on and off sewing machine feet.

How to Choose

With so many offers, so many manufacturers, and the difference in age of sewing machines, it can be confusing. So, you need to check out your machine first, before you consider purchasing new sewing machine feet. Then, it comes down to your skillset and your projects. Sewing machines of today always come with several basic presser feet. It is only natural to figure out what is their best use before moving to more specific feet. So, let’s begin with the basics.

All-Purpose Presser Foot

It is also dubbed a zigzag, standard or universal foot. I guess that even beginners are familiar with this presser foot as it always comes with a machine. It is the most versatile presser foot suitable for straight, zigzag, and some decorative stitching, hence the name. It is used for general sewing. You will use this foot the most even when you master a variety of useful specific presser feet.

Usually, it is 5mm wide, but some models have this foot up to 9mm wide for even more versatility. It is also common for these feet to have markings to help you sew as straight as possible. Modern machines have a lot of built-in decorative stitches and you can use this foot for most of them.

Blind Hem Presser Foot

If you want to create a blind stitch you can’t use a standard foot. You can do it by hand or you can use a blind hem presser foot. Guess which way is faster! It is a great presser foot that makes hemming a breeze. Whenever you want to create invisible stitches it is a presser foot to go to. It can also allow you to make easy and fast alterations on your pants or skirts. But, it is not just about speed.

This foot will allow you to produce beautiful professional looking hems. This foot has a convenient metal guide in the center for precision. So, use your blind hem presser foot for joining two pieces of fabric together, hemming, and edge stitching. 

Zipper Foot

Zipper feet come in different styles and sizes but they all do the same thing – allow you to insert the zipper. Actually, it is possible to insert the zipper using an all-purpose foot. However, it is hard to stitch close to the teeth of the zipper without catching the teeth. It’s easy to lose control or break the needle.

So, forget about these problems and use a zipper foot. This foot has notches on both sides to allow you to get very close to the zipper teeth. You just need to move the needle to the right or left edge and stitch easily. You can use this foot whenever you need to get really close to the cord when sewing piping or for decorative pillows.

Buttonhole Foot

Novice sewists are always a little bit fearful of sewing buttonholes. However, modern machines always come with a buttonhole foot and have a more or less automated process of making buttonholes.

Be it a 4-step function or fully automated 1-step, this foot allows you to make professional-looking buttonholes. All you have to do is prepare the fabric and choose the size.

Walking Foot

I mentioned earlier that the all-purpose presser foot is the most versatile one. Well, the walking foot is used for more specific tasks but it is very versatile as well. It is the best choice when it comes to sewing multiple layers. This foot has an extra pair of feed dogs to provide even feed of the top, batting, and backing of the quilt.

It is also called even feed or quilting foot. It works great for quilt binding as well as sewing plaids. Some machines might struggle with knits and stretchy fabrics. The walking foot comes to your rescue. When it comes to quilting, this is the foot to go to.

Darning Foot

It is also called a free-motion quilting foot, and a stippling foot.  This funny-looking foot with a spring requires feed dogs to be covered or lowered. With no contact between the machine and your quilt, it is up to you to guide the quilt as you wish.

There are several different styles of these feet, but they all work best for free-motion quilting.

¼” Foot

Also called a patchwork foot, it is another must-have presser foot for quilting. It is a great choice for baby clothes, doll clothes, and quilt tops. Make sure that you use straight stitch only with this foot.

It provides consistent accuracy with ¼ inch seam allowance. Therefore you can use it for some other small projects or curved edges.

Roller Foot

It sounds funny and it even looks funny. With three rollers it looks like some kind of miniature vehicle, but this foot will save you the trouble. When you work with tricky fabrics like vinyl, velvet, denim or leather you may struggle to avoid puckering or slipping.

This specialized foot will provide pressure and traction to allow smooth feeding.

Final Thoughts

This is only the beginning of the list, not to mention that most of these presser feet have different styles, widths, and varieties. But, this is enough to get you started. Different presser feet make your work easier and offer countless new possibilities.

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There is also a question where to find them, but today it’s pretty easy to find anything. On Amazon, you can find almost any presser foot that you can think of. There are also great sets of presser feet available to get all that you need at once. MadamSew Ultimate Presser Foot Set is a great example of that.

So, check out your sewing machine, assess your own skills and ambitions, and start using different presser feet. In no time you will wonder how you could ever sew without them.