Sewing Machine Feet – A Beginner’s Guide
If you are unsure what all of those sewing machine are and what they are for then this is the post for you. This is a guide to all the feet that you will need to sew most anything you could possibly imagine! Read on for a full breakdown of the sewing machine feet needed for sewing.
Sewing Machine Feet – A Beginner’s Guide
Are you BRAND NEW to sewing and not sure where to start? Check out my new free Sew Simple Series where I will walk you through everything you need to know starting at the very beginning!
When you bring your new machine home and take it out of the box, you may notice it comes with more than one presser foot. As you begin to sew a variety of projects, you will find you reach for some more than others. Let us take a look at each of these feet and then go over a few more details you will need to know as you begin sewing.
You might see the huge sets of feet on Amazon or Ebay and think wow that is a good deal. Chances are that you would use very few of those feet. There are only a few that I regularly use and I sew every single day. There are exceptions, if you make a lot of clothing or do specialized sewing there might be a foot or two that you require on top of the ones explained below. But if you are just going to be doing hobby sewing you can almost certainly get by with just three or four sewing machine feet.
What are the different feet on a sewing machine for?
There are many different types of sewing projects out there that you could dive into. Some projects do not requite any special tools while others may need a certain presser foot or other supplies. Lets talk about the presser feet that come with the beginner machine that I recommend so you know which feet to grab. THIS post will tell you about the best machine for beginners, and good news, it comes with all the feet you might need for any project you find on this site.
Zig Zag/ Universal/ 1/4 inch Foot
This foot has endless possibilities, and a few names too! You can use it when you want to create a zig zag stitch because the hole for your needle is wide enough to accommodate your widest zig zag stitch. It also helps you sew a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance which is a must when you’re quilting. This same foot can also be used for any of the other decorative stitches that your machine has. So play around and have fun with this one!
This is the foot that I use almost exclusively. There are a few exceptions as you will see below but this is my go to foot for almost everything.
I know zippers can seem intimidating but I promise this will be a presser foot you use! What does a sewing machine zipper foot look like? It is easily identifiable. Instead of having space between 2 pieces of the foot for your needle, you will notice there is space to either side of the presser foot. This allows you to get those stitches really close to the teeth of the zipper. And if you’re looking to conquer zippers, look no further! You can find a ton of super fun projects here.
This foot is also great for adding pom pom trim because it gives you plenty of space for the pom poms without any pulling or warping.
The walking foot is much larger that the other presser feet you have and attaches to your machine a bit differently as well. The walking foot feeds your fabric through evenly. This can come in really handy is several cases. If you plan to sew garments, the walking foot will become your best friend! It will feed the top and bottom layers of fabric through your machine at the same time, which is ideal for knit fabrics. This prevents puckering or stretching of the fabric as you stitch. This is also comes in handy when you have multiple layers of fabric that you’re sewing through while quilting. The walking foot is also a must if you plan to sew with minky or other super slippery fabrics. I won’t sew minky without my walking foot because it causes so much frustration!
The walking foot is great for straight line machine quilting. You can add the guide to make sure your lines are evenly spaced as you can see below.
Button Hole Foot
If you end up sewing clothing you should become familiar with your buttonhole presser foot. Depending on your machine you may have an automatic buttonhole or one that takes 4 steps to create. There is a smaller one which is called a sliding buttonhole foot. This foot takes 4 different steps to create your buttonhole. The other, bigger presser foot is called an automatic buttonhole foot. You’ve probably guessed that this one will create your buttonhole in one step rather than 4.
Read through your manual and check out youtube videos with your specific machine to learn how to use this foot.
Free Motion Quilting Foot
The more you sew the more you will want to explore your creativity. The Free Motion Quilting Foot allows you to do just that. You can add designs to your quilt top with this presser foot. You can also “write” with it like I did here on this quilt. It’s a really fun presser foot to use!
If you are using this foot to free motion quilt make sure that you lower the feed dogs or use a plate to cover the feed dogs and prevent them from feeding the fabric. In free motion quilting you will want to feed the fabric all on your own with your hands.
Are sewing machine presser feet universal?
You may be wondering if all sewing machine presser feet are universal. The answer is no. While lots of machines use the same type of feet there are machines that require a specialty foot. This depends on whether your machine has a low or a high shank. If you decide you want to purchase additional presser feet that did not come with your machine, you will just want to make sure they are made for your model of sewing machine and that they are for either a low or high shank, depending on what your machine is. You can check your sewing machine manual for the part number of the specific foot that you are looking for.
What does low shank sewing machine mean?
First, lets identify what part of your sewing machine we are talking about. The shank is the metal rod where your presser foot attaches. Most of the domestic machines you come across are low shank. Now you may be wondering how you know if your machine is high or low shank. To find this out you simply measure the distance from the bottom of the presser foot to the attachment screw. Low shank machines will measure 3/4″. If you measure this is and it is 1 1/4″ then you have yourself a high shank machine.
Your manual might also refer to the type of machine you have. If all else fails you have good old google. Go ahead and ask your old friend Google. Hey google, is my Brother CS6000i a low shank sewing machine? Google knows pretty much everything!
What is a slant shank sewing machine?
Singer has an exclusive shank for it’s sewing machine feet, it is called a slant shank. If you have a Singer with a slant shank, you will just want to make sure you get the right presser feet for your machine. You can find feet on Amazon by searching slant shank sewing machine feet. Check your manual for an exact part number if you are unsure if a foot will fit or not.
A slant shank is different than most machines because the bar that holds the foot is, wait for it, slanted! When you are purchasing sewing machine feet just be sure that your specific machine is listed as compatible.
What is a presser foot lever?
The presser foot lever is a lever that is typically located just behind the needle. It lifts the presser foot up and down. If you are unsure where your lever is your manual should have a diagram of all the parts of your machine. If you are new to sewing, I recommend checking out THIS post about how to use your sewing machine.
Once you have decided on the project you are going to make and you have grabbed the right presser foot, you will want to attach it. To do so, you will want to lift your presser foot lever which can be found near the shank. This lever will move your shank up, which simultaneously moves your needle and presser foot. This will allow you to detach the presser foot that is there and reattach the one you need for your project.
Now that you know what each foot is and how you can use it, do you have a project in mind? The options are limitless so have fun and sew anything your heart desires, just come back and tell us about it – we love to know what you are working on. New to sewing and still unsure about what supplies you might need, check out THIS post for all the must have beginner sewing supplies. Then check out my Amazon store HERE for all my favorite fun sewing tools!
Still have questions about sewing machine feet? Or maybe there is one specific foot that you are still unsure of, leave us your questions or concerns in the comments below.