What are the different feet on a sewing machine for?
There are some truly amazing presser feet that can help make all types of creative sewing projects easier. Hems, trim, many hard-to-handle processes can be made manageable with the right attachment. My goal is to acquaint you with many of the options available for you as you sew both common and unusual projects.
With such a huge variety of sewing machine feet to choose from, I find myself hard-pressed to know how best to present so much information. I decided to arrange the feet into categories. In this way, it may be easier for you to quickly find the type of presser foot you’re currently interested in, or see a clear overview of presser feet in general for future reference.
1. Essential Sewing Machine Presser Feet
Even the most basic presser feet don’t necessarily look the same for different sewing machine manufacturers. You’ll need to research your brand options to ensure you buy machine parts that will fit.
There are certain presser feet, however, that should come standard with your machine. If any of them don’t, you’re going to want to add them to your sewing accessories as soon as possible.
All Purpose, or Zigzag Foot
This should be the foot that’s on the machine when you buy it. However, there can sometimes be an alternate foot available that will allow a bit more flexibility in everyday stitches, so check your brand.
Again, most machines come with a standard zipper foot. However, your machine may have options for a super-slim version. These feet help you sew at just the right distance from the zipper teeth without touching them or allowing them to catch on the fabric later.
Inivisible Zipper Foot
If clothing is a big part of your sewing time, you’ll also want to invest in an invisible zipper foot. I have bought the universal plastic foot available in many fabric stores. I found it to be flimsy and undependable. I recommend you buy the metal foot that is designed for your own machine.
Read More: All About Zippers (And How to Install Them!)
If your machine has a one-step buttonhole option, it should have come with a sliding buttonhole foot. You place the button in one end, and the machine uses it to sew the perfect-sized buttonhole.
Machines with the option of lowering the feed dogs sometimes come with a button foot. This foot holds a button in place while it’s sewn on with the correct size zigzag stitch.
2. Hems, Tape, and Edge Presser Feet
There should never be any raw fabric edges showing on a finished piece (except for effect). Edges can be finished in a variety of ways; by hemming, decorative edging, or bias tape.
Blind Hem Foot
Hemming is the most common way to finish an edge to the exact length you need. For many garments and curtains, this hem will be invisible on the outside of the piece. Many machines have a specific stitch to accomplish this and a presser foot to help you line up and control the stitches and fabric.
Narrow Hem Foot
Some garments, such as prom dresses, have a very narrow, visible hem. These hems are difficult to do with accuracy. A special foot is a godsend if you have many edges to finish in this way. The feet may have different names, but a description should identify the foot as one that turns under a small amount of fabric and holds it in place for stitching.
Bias Tape Binder
If you’ve ever tried to attach bias tape to an edge, only to find you’ve missed the tape altogether in places on the backside, you’ll understand the value of a binder foot. Again, the foot may have a slightly different name for your brand, so read descriptions carefully until you find the right one. There are even some that are made for turning corners.
Edge Stitch Foot
Edge foot is also called the side cutter or overcast foot, depending on your machine brand. This is not a common presser foot, but if you don’t have a serger and your machine has this option, go for it. The foot is set up to use a zigzag or similar stitch along the edge and cut away excess fabric to finish any seam.
An elastic presser foot is used for attaching elastic directly to the underside of fabric instead of pulling it through a pocket. They are not available for every machine, so check your brand.
3. Heavy Duty Presser Feet
Certain types of fabric can be harder to sew with an all-purpose foot. Before you try to sew through layers of denim or other heavy fabric, make sure your machine’s motor can handle it. If you buy a heavy-duty machine, it may come with some of these presser feet. If not, you’ll want to add them along the way.
This foot has a layer of Teflon coating on the bottom to help certain types of fabric, such as leather or vinyl, move along more smoothly.
Another design for assisting denim, vinyl, leather, or velvet to move easily without dragging or catching. This foot has a small roller integrated into the underside of the foot.
This foot helps multiple layers of fabric move smoothly through the machine by actually grabbing the fabric and moving the layers along together. The foot has several different looks depending on your machine’s brand. It’s great for quilts or craft projects such as different types of carrying bags.
4. Quilting Presser Feet
You will find there are presser feet available to accommodate different quilting styles and patterns. Some are quite creative and time saving for the quilting hobbyist.
Satin Stitch Foot
For simple projects, such as quilted potholders, a clear satin stitch foot, sometimes called an embroidery foot, will help you see the placement of your stitches better.
Quarter-Inch, or Quilting Foot
This foot is designed to measure an exact 1/4 inch seam. It is ideal for sewing quilting pieces together and for some quilting patterns.
Stitch In The Ditch Foot
This foot is used for hiding stitches along seamlines or edges. This trick is often used when quilting to hide where pieces have been assembled separately.
Free Motion Quilting or Darning Foot
A free-motion foot is best used with a machine with the option of lowering or covering the feed dogs. These feet can be found in some universal forms that will fit most machines. They enable you to quilt a free-flowing pattern or darn a large area without having to turn the fabric to accommodate the feed dogs. It’s a handy accessory for creative projects.
5. Crafting and Embellishment Sewing Feet
For those who enjoy adding flair to common projects or sew more crafts than anything else, here are some of the special sewing machine feet you may look into.
- Cording or welting foot–for adding a corded edge around cushions, etc.
- Open toe foot–also called an open-toe applique, used for applique or easy viewing of other special stitches
- Gathering foot–for even gathers on crafts or garments
- Decorative cord foot–comes in a 5 or 7 cord option, and often requires two needles. It’s for attaching small decorative cording to fabric.
- Ruffler foot–similar to gathering foot, for making ruffles for pillows or other projects.
- Knit foot–great for use with knit or stretchy fabric
- Pintuck–for creating a decorative pintuck. Also requires two needles
- Decorative Daisy or Flower stitch foot–-this unusual foot allows you to use the stitches available on your machine to create flower patterns of various sizes
- Bead foot–for applying strings of small beads to crafts or clothing
- Fringe foot–this foot will create loops in the thread as your sewing that you can cut to become fringe.
I may still have missed a few, but when you check out the online site for your brand and model, and attachments that are compatible with your machine will be there for your perusal.
A must have for everyone. I can personally vouch that my own Ginghers have given me nearly 20 years of extensive service and are just now beginning to show signs of needing to be sharpened.
- High-quality construction
- Long-lasting edge
- Can easily take heavy-duty use
- Screw-together construction makes sharpening easy