Have you ever gone through the sewing machine attachments that come with your sewing machine and wondered, “What the heck is this used for?” I certainly have! In this post, I am going to walk you through the 7 most basic sewing machine presser feet and how to use them.
Whatever type of sewing machine you have, it will come with some basic presser feet attachments. Some of them may look very intimidating and seem complicated to use. NO WORRIES. By the end of this tutorial, you are going to be all ready and hopefully, excited to tackle any sewing project.
What are presser feet?
Presser feet are small attachments that are added to the machine to help feed the fabric through the machine while you sew. There are many types of presser feet and each does something different to make the sewing task easier.
Make sure to use presser feet that are compatible with the model of the sewing machine! Some feet are universal and can be used and several models of sewing machines, but others are not. When you purchase a new foot, it will tell what models it can be used on.
7 Basic Presser Feet
Standard Presser Foot
This foot is most likely the foot you’ll be using for most of your sewing projects. It’s used for standard and decorative stitches.
- Straight stitch
- Satin stitch
- Zigzag stitch
- Other fancy stitches
- Zipper Foot
Most machines include a zipper foot. There are several types of zipper feet and different ways to attach them. Depending on the setup of your machine, will determine how you attach it.
It’s pretty obvious what the zipper foot is used for, but how does it work?
Most commonly a zipper foot has gaps on either side of the foot. Depending on which side of the zipper you are sewing you position the zipper tape under the relevant side of the zipper foot. You stitch along one side of the zip then repeat for the other side.
The gaps in the foot allow you to sew close to the zipper teeth on either side of your zipper. If your sewing machine is capable, you can also adjust the needle position to more precisely place your stitching.
You can also use the zipper foot to attach trimmings and that have a tape, just like you do with a zipper. A zipper foot can also be used to apply piping. (There is a piping foot, which makes the task even easier
This foot is wonderful if you need to finish the raw edges of fabric but don’t have a serger or overlock machine. There is a little bar in the center of the foot that works to wrap the thread around the edge of the fabric for a neat finish and to prevent fraying.
There are usually a couple of options for overcasting stitches on most machines. You may need to play around with the length and width of the stitch to get the result you are looking for. I always recommend practicing on a piece of scrap fabric first.
You can watch the video tutorial where I will show you in more detail how to do the overcast stitch on your sewing machine.
The overcasting stitch can be used even if you have a serger. It comes in handy for quick, small, and hard to reach places.
Blind Hem Foot
This foot is a nice option if you want to hem a pair of pants, curtains, skirt, or other items that you don’t want to be able to see the seam and you don’t want to sew it by hand.
The foot has a gap down the center and the right side of the foot is wider than the left side. The left side is also slightly raised compared to the right side because once the fabric is folded correctly there will be three layers of fabric to fit under the left side of the foot (two layers of the garment fabric itself plus the hem allowance), but only one layer on the right side
You can watch the detailed blind hem video here
As I mentioned before, take a piece of scrap fabric and test it out there before sewing on your project. It takes a little tweaking to get the stitch how you want it.
Select the blind hem stitch on your machine and position the foot with the right side of the foot snugly against the fold in the fabric. The right side of the foot will act as a guide as you sew making it easy to sew accurately and ensure the stitches are falling correctly.
As you sew the stitches will be straight and then it will jog over to just catch the main garment fabric as it joins it to the hem allowance. You may need to play with the needle position to get your stitches in the correct place.
You will see a minimal amount of stitching from the right side, especially if you are using thread that is the same color as your fabric.
This foot can look intimidating, as at least it did for me until I used it. There are different types of buttonhole feet and some are fancier than others. I’m going to show and demonstrate how to use a one-step buttonhole foot. Most machines will come with at least a sliding or adjustable foot, which is similar to the one-step.
The one-step buttonhole attachment looks similar to the sliding and adjustable buttonhole feet, but it also has an area at the back of the foot where you can insert your button. You slide the foot until the button is fitting snugly in the gap then engage a lever or similar on your machine (instructions for this feature will be in your manual). This allows the machine to measure the button and stitch out the correct sized buttonhole in one simple step. I LOVE IT!
Practice on a scrap piece of fabric first. It’s actually quite fun making buttonholes!
You can always just sew a button on by hand but if you’re not a fan of hand sewing this foot could be a very welcome addition to your sewing kit! This foot allows you to sew a 2 or 4 hole button, and in different sizes, depending on the size of the button you are using.
Some machines will have a special setting for applying a button. But if it doesn’t NO WORRIES!
Simply set the stitch width according to the gap between the holes on the button and set the stitch length to “0”. The machine does all the work. If your machine does not have the special button setting, when you complete the stitching, move the needle position to the left or right and set the width to “0” and take several stitches in the same hole to knot the thread. Or you can just manually knot the two threads on the underside.
An appliqué foot is shorter in length than most presser feet and has a wider area for sewing all kinds of decorative stitches. The foot is shorted in length which makes maneuvering curves and angles easier.
The front of the foot sits on the fabric to maintain the required pressure; however, the back of the foot is raised to allow stitches and fabric to feed through easily.
Simply attach the foot to your machine, select an appliqué stitch of your choice, and sew around your chosen design quickly and easily. One of my favorite stitches to use is the blanket stitch.
There you have it. I hope this was helpful and allows you to feel more confident and familiar with those foreign-looking attachments that come with your sewing machine.
It’s always a good idea to read through the manual that comes with your sewing machine. There may be some good tips in there to help make your sewing experience a lot easier.
For those of you who would like a little more direction and tips on all the SEWING BASICS, be sure to check out my SEW SIMPLE COURSES. Find out more about them HERE.
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Have fun sewing, and remember to KEEP IT SIMPLE!