Use this sewing machine feet guide to make your sewing faster, more accurate, and easier. There are a huge amount of presser feet on the market and while they all perform different tasks, you only really need some of these on a regular basis. This guide will also go through some of the less common feet that can be used for specialty purposes.
Sewing Machine Feet Guide Tutorial
I’m sure you have quite a few sewing machine feet that came with your machine. Why not try them and see how much it improves your sewing.
A little extra time taken to get the right foot and needle in your machine can make your project turn into a professional-looking item you will be proud of.
Types of Sewing Machine Feet – Snap-On vs Screw-On
Depending on the brand of your machine, the sewing machine feet may be snap-on or screw-on.
Most modern machines use the snap-on method making it fast and easy to change feet. Older machines tend to have screw-on feet which attach to the machine with a large screw. While they take a couple of seconds longer to put on, they are still very easy and you should feel confident switching feet.
What are the Best Sewing Machine Feet?
The first 4 sewing machine presser feet in the list most likely came with your purchased machine and the last can be either individually or in a kit. Out of all these feet, my most used one is the Teflon foot so take a special note of that section.
1. All-Purpose Presser Foot (Universal Foot)
All machines come with all-purpose sewing machine feet which are used for straight stitching, decorative stitches and simple zig-zag on a wide variety of fabrics.
These can also be called a general purpose foot, straight stitching foot, standard foot, or a multi-purpose foot.
If you have an old-fashioned machine with just this one foot you’ll be able to sew 90% of sewing projects successfully. Having fancy gadgets is not necessary to sew beautiful garments and projects and this will be your most important sewing machine foot.
Further reading: How to Sew a Seam
2. Rolled Hemming Foot
A hemming foot (sometimes called hemmer sewing machine feet) is used to sew a narrow rolled hem on fine fabrics and sheer fabrics. It turns the hem and sews it in place all at the same time so saves you a lot of time in pressing. See how it has a curved front edge to turn the hem.
The rolled hem foot is best used for straight hems rather than curved hems. Common sizes include the ⅛ inch (3mm) and the ¼ inch (6mm).
Further reading: How to use a rolled hem foot
3. Zipper Foot
These sewing machine feet enable you to sew close to the edge of zipper teeth, piping and bulky edges. Most zipper feet allow you to position the needle either to the left or right of the foot.
The photo below shows several different designs of the zipper foot. One thing they all have in common is that the needle slot is to the left or right and not in the center as is usual.
You can get specialty feet for sewing invisible zippers but even these can be sewn successfully with a regular zipper foot. When you are starting to sew just get the basics and built your kit as you grow in experience and confidence.
4. Overlock (Overedge or Overcast) Foot
Most modern machines are able to create an overlocked edge for knits and wovens. These sewing machine feet will help bind the edge neatly.
The edge created by an overlock foot is slightly different from that of a serger. A serger will cut the raw edge before sewing whereas the overlock foot does not cut.
This means it is important to trim the raw edge immediately before sewing to prevent fraying.
5. Blind-Hem Foot
The blind hem foot or hemmer foot has a metal sewing machine feet guide to create accurate stitching for your invisible blind hem.
Further reading: How to sew a blind hem
6. Teflon foot (non-stick foot)
This useful foot glides over leather and vinyl fabrics without sticking. I use Teflon sewing machine feet a lot for sewing Lycra and other difficult fabrics and even keep it on for regular sewing in place of an all-purpose foot.
Since they are made of a plastic-like substance, they do wear out a little and I replace mine every year or so. You can see the one in the photo below is well-loved.
7. Gathering foot
This handy foot gathers lightweight fabrics as you sew. It can even gather and join fabrics at the same time. If you do gathering regularly it will save you so much time.
The main thing to remember is that these sewing machine feet are for light or thin fabrics and it only creates gentle gathers. If you want a gathering foot for thicker fabrics or deeper gathers then look at the ruffler in the number 10 spot.
Further reading: Gathering foot tutorial – how to gather quickly
8. Buttonhole Foot
The look of buttonhole feet does vary a lot from brand to brand but its purpose is to create smooth and perfect-looking buttonholes.
Button holes can also be created by zig-zag feet like the clear plastic foot pictured below.
The long white buttonhole foot automatically sews to the correct length buttonhole since the button is placed in the back with a spring mechanism.
These sewing machine feet are from my Janome machine.
9. Quarter Inch Foot
This quarter inch seam foot will give you a perfect ¼ inch (6mm) seam allowance. You can purchase them with or without the extra guide on the side. The foot with the guide is great for topstitching flaps on bags and clutches.
Further reading: How to topstitch bags
10. Ruffler foot
The last item in my sewing machine feet guide is the ruffler foot. This fancy contraption is amazing for pleating and gathering all kinds of fabrics. Like a gathering foot, it can ruffle and stitch to a flat piece of fabric all at the same time.
Further reading: How to use a ruffler foot
11. Walking Foot
A walking foot is useful for sewing quilts, leather, and lycra fabrics as its up and down movement means it doesn’t stick to any fabric and releases any puckered fabric. It is an essential presser foot for when you are sewing multiple layers of fabric as it will feed them through the feed dogs evenly.
12. Binder Foot
The binder foot or binding foot attaches bias tape (bias binding) to the raw edges of the fabric. It is best for straight edges.
13. Edge Stitch Foot
Edge stitch feet come with a guide that allows you to sew in the crease of seams accurately. This is great for quilting.
14. Roller Foot
A roller foot has a rolling bar in the front and back to enable it to glide over leather and vinyl.
15. Darning Foot (Free Motion or Embroidery Foot)
Darning feet can be used to repair rips as well as to free motion quilt.
16. Zig-Zag Foot
This is another name for the all-purpose foot that can be used for both zig-zag and straight stitching. It has a wide toe to enable the needle to move from side to side in a wide zig-zag motion.
17. Pin Tuck Foot
The pintuck foot has grooves on the back of the foot to space the tucks. It is used in conjunction with a twin needle to sew small evenly spaced pin tucks.
18. Invisible Zipper Foot
While you can sew an invisible zipper with an all-purpose foot, an invisible zipper foot will enable you to get much closer to the teeth. This makes the zipper even more invisible! The foot has a groove on the underside that will slide over the teeth.
Where to Buy Sewing Machine Feet
Save money and purchase your sewing machine feet in a multi-pack. These packs will fit most low shank machines and can greatly increase your sewing enjoyment, quality, and productivity.
I have found that the generic kits found on Amazon and eBay are actually quite good. Just don’t lose the labeling and packaging as it can get a little confusing when you have 30 to 50 loose feet and you need to identify them all.
Sewing Machine Feet FAQs
Are sewing machine feet universal?
There are many universal, generic sewing machine feet on the market that will fit multiple brands of machines. Take a note of whether your sewing machine is either a high shank or low shank and purchase universal feet accordingly.
What are the most useful sewing machine feet?
The most useful sewing machine foot is the all-purpose presser foot. This foot can straight stitch, zig-zag, and sew many decorative stitches. In fact, you can probably use this useful foot for most of your sewing tasks.
Do you need a sewing machine foot?
Yes, you will definitely need a sewing machine foot to sew fabric. The foot guides the fabric through the feed dogs giving you neat, evenly spaced stitches.
What does a presser foot do?
A presser foot is an attachment for a sewing machine designed to hold the fabric in place while the needle stitches. It applies even pressure to the fabric as it goes through the feed mechanism.
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Have you tried most of these in my sewing machine feet guide? Which one is your favorite? Please share your thoughts.