I have had a number of requests for a tutorial on the different presser feet and when you should use them. In our corresponding YouTube tutorial (The Guide: Sewing Machine Presser Feet) and this blog post I aim to cover the basic presser feet that may come with your sewing machine as well as a couple of recommendations for future purchases. Let’s start by looking at the basic universal foot, this is the presser foot you will use on your sewing machine most of the time.
Standard Presser Foot
The generic presser foot that came with your sewing machine can vary tremendously between different makes and models. The two central presser feet (image below) are standard presser feet sold with a Husqvarna Viking (left) and Brother (right). I am personally fond of the Husqvarna standard foot (centre left), this presser foot has a number of edges that you can use for accurate stitching (the outside edge of both sides, the inside edge of both sides and two smaller inside edges); it pretty much covers edge-stitching and topstitching from 1/8″ (3mm) to 1/4″ (6mm).
If your foot doesn’t look like this please don’t despair, your standard foot will work for most uses. You may find you have a second standard foot or a monogram / appliqué foot (two feet on the right) you can use when accurate stitching is required.
Alternatively the standard foot you have with your sewing machine may look like the design on the far left. This foot is a straight stitch foot as there is only a small hole for the needle to enter. Something to remember, if you are planning on using a stitch that has width, this could be a zigzag, a decorative stitch or you could be moving the needle placement on a straight stitch. You MUST use a foot with a wide area for the needle to enter and move, otherwise you will break the needle.
The zipper foot is quite a standard design and doesn’t differ too much between models, here are two zipper feet (below image). If I had to choose my preference between the two below I prefer the design on the right where the front edge of the foot is equal to the back edge.
The buttonhole foot you receive with your sewing machine will depend on the buttonhole function your sewing machine offers. The two large buttonhole feet in the image below are designed for an automatic buttonhole. An automatic buttonhole is where you position the button onto the foot so that the foot can automatically create a buttonhole the perfect size for the button.
If your sewing machine doesn’t offer this function you should have a foot for a manual buttonhole. A manual buttonhole will mean that you have to create the size of the buttonhole and change the stitch on the sewing machine to create the two sizes and bottom / top of the buttonhole. To complete this you may have a foot similar to the metal foot (below) with red markings for help with sizing. You could also have a plastic white foot (smaller size than the large automatic buttonhole feet below) with red markings.
Some sewing machines provide you with a foot for sewing buttons. The below feet are what you might have in your accessories pack, however I personally prefer to stitch buttons by hand.
Non Stick Glide Foot
A lot of sewing machines will come with a variation of the following non stick glide foot, this is a useful foot to have in your collection. Perfect for use on fabrics where the metal foot would otherwise stick, these include: leather, PU, oil cloth etc.
If you don’t have a non stick glide foot in your collection try using a walking foot instead. Alternatively tape some masking tape to the bottom of the metal foot to stop the metal from sticking to the fabric. Make sure you remove the masking tape and clean the foot after use.
Blind Hem Foot
If your sewing machine has a setting to complete a blind hem you may have a blind hem foot included in the accessories pack. The three feet below look very different but they are all blind hem feet. The two feet on the left are adjustable, allowing you to adjust the foot so that the blind hem stitch only catches a few threads of the fabric.
Although these are useful accessories I generally recommend completing the blind hem by hand rather than on the sewing machine for a more accurate invisible finish.
If your sewing machine can complete an overcast stitch you may have received an overcast / edging foot to make the process accurate and help to prevent the fabric from curling under. If you don’t have an overlocker or serger you can use the overcast stitch on your sewing machine to finish the raw edge of fabric.
I have now covered the majority of basic feet that your sewing machine may have included as accessories, obviously this can change between the different makes and models and you may have been lucky enough to receive extras! I also wanted to cover a couple of presser feet that I use on a regular basis, feet that I would personally recommend purchasing to improve the ease and professionalism of your sewing.
Let’s start by looking at the walking foot. If you haven’t heard about the walking foot before I have a specific blog post and YouTube tutorial (What Is… A Walking Foot) that discusses the walking foot in greater detail. The walking foot has feed dogs on the bottom of the foot, these work with the feed dogs on the bed of the sewing machine to move the fabric (layers of fabric) through the sewing machine at the same rate, providing an even feed. The walking foot is great to use with difficult fabrics, anything lightweight / slippy / heavyweight as well as layers of fabric such as wadding for quilting. I personally leave the walking foot on the basic sewing machines I use for classes most of the time, as I believe it helps them to create a better all round stitch.
Invisible Zipper Foot
If you are interested in dressmaking I would recommend purchasing the invisible zipper foot for your sewing machine. Although you can use the standard zipper foot to introduce an invisible zipper into a garment you will find the process easier and more accurate using the invisible zipper foot. Please bear in mind that you will still need a standard zipper foot to finish inserting an invisible zipper.
If you are new to sewing invisible zippers check out our tutorial on YouTube: How To: Sewing Invisible Zipper.
Although this foot isn’t a necessity it is different to the other feet available and I thought it would be worth a mention.
Known as the darning foot and suitable for darning this foot is more commonly use for free motion embroidery. The foot has a built in spring, meaning that it will raise and lower with the needle on the sewing machine. To complete free motion embroidery you will need to lower the feed dogs on the sewing machine, enabling you to move the fabric feely through the machine.
Remember when purchasing any presser feet for your sewing machine that you need to purchase feet to fit your individual machine. Unfortunately different makes and models have unique attachments and therefore feet designed for a different make or model may not fit your sewing machine. This doesn’t mean that you need to purchase a branded foot, you can still purchase a cheaper generic model but make sure it is designed to fit your sewing machine.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and feel more confident with the presser feet that came with your sewing machine. Why not check out our corresponding YouTube tutorial: The Guide: Sewing Machine Presser Feet!