What is a Presser Foot? What is its function in a sewing machine?
Other than being a life savior of the sewist, a Presser foot is an attachment used with sewing machines to hold the fabric down under the needle as it is sewn.
Besides the basic presser foot for sewing straight stitching lines, you can fit most of the sewing machines with a number of different presser feet that do a lot of other functions.
Presser feet add different functionalities to your sewing machine, so that it can accomplish much more than mere straight stitching. The additional benefit given by the presser feet can add a lot of ease to your sewing and save you a lot of time.
So more presser feet are always welcome for a sewist. Let us see which are the presser feet that you probably have and the ones you should buy and ones you may not.
How to find the correct presser feet for your machine?
According to how they are fitted on the sewing machine, there are two types of presser feet – the snap-on presser feet and the screw-on presser feet. This is dependent on the make of your sewing machine.
You will find that some presser feet are low shank and others high shank. Low/high shank refers to the height of the shank. Most of the sewing machines are low shank (like about 90%). But then only you will know whether you have a low shank or high shank machine.
I have a snap-on one, and I have not seen a lot of high shank machines other than in vintage models and high-end machines. Changing the snap-on presser feet is a child’s play for a regular sewist and needs no instruction. You take it to the groove in the machine, and it magically snaps on.
Do check your sewing machine manual before purchasing any feet – some feet are not meant to be used with some machines, some feet would not work with some machines – A vendor near you can clear the confusion.
Sewing Machine Presser Feet guide
The basic presser feet you (most probably) have
Most of the sewing machines come with some basic presser feet. These are the ones you need in your everyday sewing. There is basically no way out other than use these ones.
1. Straight stitch Presser foot
This foot is the most basic of all presser feet. It sews a straight line.This is the best foot for sewing regular seams as it results in a straight stitching line.
2. Zig zag presser foot
This general all-purpose foot is needed for every other stitch in your sewing machine. You can use it as a general all-purpose sewing feet as you can stitch straight lines as well as most decorative stitches with this.
3. Zipper foot/piping foot
This foot is a necessity when sewing zippers. With this, you can sew very close to the zipper teeth. If you move the needle, you can sew to the right or left of the zipper, right along with the zipper teeth. You can use this foot to sew piping very close to the cord inside, as well.
Read more about different types of zipper foot here.
Some presser foot which can be a heaven send for your sewing
4. Invisible zipper foot
This is a very nice presser foot to have to sew invisible zippers. Check out the post on sewing invisible zippers for more details on this
5. Hemmer foot
This foot is a heaven send to finish fabric edges in a curling way, especially for fabric which frays a lot. Usually, you get 3mm, 6 mm hemmer feet. A 1/4 inch can make a nice hem. The edge of the fabric is guided to the curl on this foot and stitched with a straight stitch or zig zag stitch.
A similar hemmer foot with a slight difference in its function and looks is the one to make a flat hem – you will find it identical to the hemmer foot in the front. But if you look at the back you will find that it does not have the groove that a round hemmer foot has.
Checkout a detailed tutorial on making rolled hems with a rolled hemmer foot
This is a foot which can give you beautiful button holes without the hassle of you making it by hand. Checkout the post on sewing buttonholes with a buttonhole foot for more details
This foot can help you to sew buttons easily. You can see the buttons very well with this foot and the zig zag stitch is adjusted perfectly to sew the button down, under the foot. Check out the post on sewing buttons for more on this
Presser feet that can make your sewing more beautiful
8. Open toe embroidery foot
This is a sewing presser foot which makes it very easy to do embroider or make wide decorative stitches as the wide opening in the front can make you see the embroidery stitches well.If you buy a clear one in plastic all the more clearer. It is very useful in machine applique, quilting and top stitching
Read about the 4 presser feet that can be used for satin stitch.
9. Quilting foot
This foot is used in quilting for sewing accurately with 1/4 inch/ 1/8 inch seam allowance. It is also called a piecing foot. It has markings on it that make seams accurate from the edge. There are markings on it to pivot accurately as well. The straight stitching guide also makes sure the straight stitches are made straight (what!).
10. Gathering / shirring foot
This is a presser foot used for simple gathering of fabric. It is usually used on lightweight fabrics. You can use this to attach gathered fabric to flat fabric. You get beautiful gathers and ruffles. You can learn more about the gathering foot here.
11. Applique stitch foot
This is a short plastic presser foot (3/4 of the straight presser foot) which makes sewing around curves of applique pieces easy. The clear foot makes seeing what you are sewing easy.
12. Darning foot
The darning foot is used for free-form stitching in quilting / free motion embroidery/ thread painting. The darning foot with spring makes it easy to sew on fabrics of varying heights. If you have a clear foot, you will get more visibility. The best use of this foot is that with your regular sewing machine, you can do free-motion quilting.
Some may find the movement of the spring darning foot distracting ; this foot without the spring doesnot move
Read more about using a darning foot here.
13. Knit Foot
This foot is also called Tricot foot and is used for sewing with knits. This is also used as an alternative to a walking foot. It can sew knits without stretching them. It works very well with knits that are soft, thin , very stretchy and fragile ( eg. spandex knits)
14. Satin Stitch
This is a longer version of the applique foot. The advantage over the regular zig zag satin stitch foot is that the foot has a groove in the back that allows raised thread of the satin stitches you are making to pass through easily.
15. Stitch Guide feet
This is a presser foot with a ruler attached – it makes it easy to sew straight stitches and equidistant parallel stitching lines easily. It is also known as gauge presser foot. This foot has many markings on it from 1/8″ up to 13/16″, and the outer edge of the foot itself is exactly at 1″.
16. Overcast stitch foot
This foot is used to sew an overcast stitch along the fabric edge – interlocking hem is made along a raw edge. It is almost like you have a serger (though, it doesn’t cut the fabric edge like a serger); your sewing machine should have an overcast stitch for this to work properly. Otherwise you can use a zig zag stitch
17. Edge Joining Foot
This stitch is also known as a stitch in the ditch foot – it makes stitching in the ditch easy and accurate. It is used to sew in the seam line. Top stitching works very well with this foot. It is also used for joining. This is a foot that is used to stitch trims to edges in Heirloom sewing . Beautiful decorative stitches can be made between the trims and the fabric edge at the same time joining them.
18. Blind stitch foot
This is a foot best used for hemming pants. Along with the blind hem stitch, hemming is very easy and beautiful with this foot.It has an adjustment bar, which is very convenient. Checkout the tutorial to sew blind hem
19. Adjustable zipper foot
This is a variation of the zipper foot – Adjust the needle to either the right or left to sew both sides of your zipper easily. You can change the position of the foot for this with a screw in the back ; this is useful when you have a zipper to sew and you cannot change the position of the needle
20. Walking Foot
This is a foot used for sewing through many layers of fabric. It is a very useful foot to have when sewing quilts or making bags- no more puckering of fabric layers. It is also known as even feed foot. When you use this fabric layers, do not shift much, so this is great when you have to match prints, patterns, checks, etc Learn more about the walking foot here.
21. Teflon foot
The regular metal presser feet usually refuse to move over the fabric like pleather, vinyl ( polyethylene fabrics ), and leather. We have to use a Teflon foot on this kind of fabric.
22. Ruffler foot
This foot makes incredibly easy ruffles and pleats in varying depths and fullness. Read more about using a ruffler foot here.
23. Braiding foot
This is the perfect foot to stitch braids or sequins chains, ric racs, ribbons on to fabric surface (should be small enough to pass through the hole in the foot). Ribbons and Trims of about 3/8 inch will pass through the hole in the braiding foot
Read more about using a braiding foot here.
24. Double welting foot
You can use this for piping (cording covered on the top with fabric) . There are grooves in the back of this foot. These grooves pass through cording ; by adjusting the needle position you can stitch on either side of the cording which is covered with fabric
25. Bias Tape binder foot
An adjustable bias tape binding foot is used to apply bias binding tape to fabric edges. It is adjustable up from 3/8 to 3/4 inch.( there is no adjustable binding foot which is limited to 1/4 inch binding) You can use this to make button loops / straps / ties . The guide in this foot wraps the bias tape around the fabric edge
26. Cording foot
This is used for adding cords on to fabric surfaces. There are holes on this foot ( you can add upto 3 cords) through which you can guide the strings/cord . You have to thread the cord through the holes. Use zig zag stitches to couch the cords in place.
27. Pintuck Foot
This foot, which makes thin pintucks, is best used with lightweight fabric. You can also make corded pintucks with this foot. It is used with a double needle; depending on the space between the twin needles pintuck will be wide or narrow.
28. Fringe foot
This foot is used to make loops of stitches on the fabric surface. You can cut these loops and make the fringes.
Presser feet that you may end up using very rarely
29. Flower stitch Foot
This is a specialty foot to embroider flowers. It will make a circular pattern that resembles a daisy. You can increase or decrease the size of the circle pattern; the usual size is about an inch.You need a zig zag sewing machine to make these flower designs
30. Elastic stitching foot
This foot is used to stretch and sew elastic to fabric. There is a guide to inserting elastic through this foot.
31. Multiple Hole cording foot
I have a five hole and seven hole cording foot. There are small holes on this foot. You pass the cord through these holes and stitch them in place with zig zag stitches.
32. Roller foot
This is usually used on fabrics like jersey knits, denim, and leather which do not feed easily, especially as layers. With this foot, the fabric layers move together. When you use it with vinyl, the fabric moves faster. This foot is an alternative to the Teflon foot. It is a somewhat fragile foot and can be used easily on thin than thick fabrics.
33. Round Bead Foot
This is a foot exclusively used to attach bead strings/ chains on fabric surfaces. Usually, this foot takes beads of 4mm. There is a groove in the back of the foot that accommodates the beads as they are sewn. An appropriately wide zig zag stitch is used to attach the bead strings with this foot
These absolutely delightful presser feet are a life saver for most of us. I am like a kid with a candy box when I open my box with them. Which are the ones you wish you had? A completely new one perhaps, which you wish, was available?.