Sewing Machine Feet

There are endless types of presser feet for your sewing machine. Every job you want to do will have a particular foot that specialises in that job – embroidery, ruffles, hems, you name it!

This post would be very long indeed if I showed you every foot available, but since this series is about basics, I am just going to talk about the four feet that came with my machine. If I have these feet, chances are you will too.

Firstly, the foot that you use most of the time. It is called many things, most commonly the standard presser foot, or zig zag foot.

I use this foot for the majority of my sewing. Mainly straight stitch and zig zag stitch, but it is also used for a large number of the decorative stitches on my machine. The foot is designed to keep fabric together and flat, and have consistent pressure and contact against the feed dogs. The wide hole between the toes allows for the side to side needle movement required for zig zag stitch.

Second is the zipper foot. Mine is a one sided zipper foot (which I think is rare?)

Lots of people tell me that they are scared of zippers. All you have to do is master using this foot and it will be fine. The foot is designed so that the needle can be as close to the zipper teeth as possible. The toe of the foot keeps the pressure against the fabric and the feed dogs. The needle can be adjusted to move closer to the zipper if required. Below is the zipper foot in action, with the zip concealed between the layers of fabric.

Next are the two scary ones. Well, they were scary for me when I first started using them!

The button hole foot. This foot doesn’t just work on its own. Depending on how many steps you require to make your button hole, there are other adjustments to be done. My machine requires me to change the stitch selector dial, change my stitch length, pull down a small lever next to the presser foot, and reset after each button hole is complete. 

When I first started sewing button holes I was SO nervous. It is one of those things that if you muck it up, there is no way to hide it! So what I did (and still do) is do a test run on a scrap of the same fabric you are using. In the early days I would do up to five test button holes until I was confident! I also use a disappearing ink texta to mark where I want my holes to go.

The hole size is determined by the size of the button, which is placed in the back section of the foot while you sew.

Then finally – yep my machine only came with four feet – my rolled hem foot.

I have a confession. I used this foot for the first time because I was writing this post. *sheepish grin* I don’t have much need for a rolled hem on the sewing machine as I prefer the rolled hem function on my overlocker. But this one has quite a different looking finish, which you can see in the picture above. It creates a neat and fine hem with a simple straight stitch down the centre.

You feed the edge into the little loop on the foot and it tucks and folds the raw edge under and stitches over the top. Do you use this foot? Tell me what you do with it! I’m interested to know more. I quite like the finish but I’m not sure what projects it would work best with.

My sewing machine manual is my bible when it comes to different feet and their functions. Luckily each different foot, decorative stitches and other functions have step by step diagrams and information about which settings to use in the manual. You Tube is also a great resource for machine feet, there are heaps of videos demonstrating different feet for different machine models.

There are more tips and tricks in my Back to {Sewing} Basics series – have a look!

Do you have a favourite machine foot? Apart from these four, what other feet do you consider essential?

21 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Feet

  1. I really don't utilize my different feet like I should. I think today I will have to pull them out and have a play! Great info Ros, thank you 🙂

  2. I've never seen a one sided zipper foot until your post. After years of doing buttonholes manually without a buttonhole foot, I wouldn't be without it now!!! I've never done a rolled hem, either on an overlocker or an ordinary machine. I really must check it out. Great post!

  3. I love the rolled hem on my sewing machine. It's such a neat finish. I also love my invisible zipper foot and my open toe foot… you can see everything with it!

  4. I used my rolled hem foot once, to see what it did. I think it would be good for thin items, but I prefer the overlocker.

  5. I agree with Kristy, the walking foot. I use it when I stitch in the ditch or any time I want to ensure that the layers of fabric are being evenly fed through the machine, such a when sewing on a binding.

    The other foot I use is my quilting foot for free motion quilting. I drop the feed dog and use the quilting foot to "draw" on my quilts. I use to for meandering, stippling and even straight line quilting.

    This is a great series.

  6. I'm going to go home tonight and see which feet my machine came with. I know that I have the button hole one foot, but I never looked too closely at the other foot that my machine came with. Now I'm curious. Thanks for the great post! Glad I am not the only one who is intimidated by the button hole foot!

  7. I've never had or used a rolled hem foot, but I am intrigued. I'd use it to finish the edges on ruffles and what nots for sure. I also have a serger, so I think I should probably figure out how to do a rolled hem on that as well!

  8. A rolled hem foot?? I have been wasting my time with rolling the fabric with my fingers as I go *cringe* I have to try that out! Thank you 😀

  9. Thank you so much for all this great information! And, you solved a mystery for me!
    The wife of one of my husband's co-workers made and gave Christmas napkins as gifts each year. I always wondered how she sewed such perfect, tiny hems on those napkins. When I just saw the last photo example of the rolled hem foot, I said to myself "So, that's how she did that!!"

  10. I have always been intimidated and only used the zipper foot. I just received a serger, and I am so scared to try anything but the 5 thread stitch that I can figure out what I need to do if there is a problem. I have tons of feet and I know a few, but the other ones have me perplex and scared. If I recall I tried the one that turns fabric and didn't have success with it, so probably why I don't use it.

  11. Oh my! The rolled hem foot would be perfect to finishing dinner linen cloth napkins I began ages ago. I couldn't keep the edges pretty and even and thin, BUT trying out a new foot might be the trick I need!

  12. Hi, I'm a beginner – I have a basic sewing machine which comes with a footer for straight stitch only. My question is if I get the different footers, can I get the same effect as above, even though I don't have any option to change the programmes of stitches? Thanks.

    1. Hi Chan, depending on your machine you can often buy different machine feet for your sewing machine from ebay or sewing stores. If you only have straight stitch that might be a problem – you probably wouldn't be able to sew buttonholes but you could do rolled hem.

  13. I make a lot of scarves from light weight silk and polyester fabrics and use a rolled hem foot exclusively for that. It took some getting used to and patience but was totally worth the effort.

  14. Stumbled upon your post as I was trying to figure out wht my newly thrifted presser foot did…. alas … it is the one sided presser foot u have shown… kindly can u explain how it works as I am very interested to know….In my mind I though it was piping foot ….

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