Guest Author - Tamara Bostwick
|Sewing Machine Accessory Tray|
Most sewing machines come with multiple presser feet and it can sometimes be a challenge to determine what a particular foot is used for. In the photo to the right, you can see the accessory tray for my sewing machine with slots for the different presser feet included with my machine.
While you can do the majority of your sewing with just one basic foot, other specialized presser feet can make more complex sewing tasks easier such as installing zippers or making buttonholes. There are also presser feet that you can purchase that simplify sewing tasks such as hemming or gathering fabric. In this article, I will discuss the basic presser feet and how they are used.
The basic purpose of a presser foot is to hold the fabric in place while it is moving through the sewing machine and in some cases, the presser foot can manipulate the fabric in a certain way to obtain the desired result, for instance, a rolled hem foot wraps the fabric into a channel on the foot to create a tiny fold which then passes under the needle to be sewn down.
Presser feet are attached to the shank of the sewing machine (the post that moves up and down) in different ways, depending on the model of sewing machine. There are three basic attachment types: high shank, low shank and snap-on. Both the high and low shank styles use a screw to attach the presser foot, while the snap-on, obviously, snaps on. Most machines made since 1980 use the snap-on method. Snap-on feet are much more convenient to use and store than screw-on feet because they can be quickly changed by pushing the foot off to detach it and then snapping on a new one which takes just a few seconds. The shanked feet, in addition to being more cumbersome to change, also require a great deal more room to store because the presser foot attachment includes not only the foot part, but also the upper part that screws onto the shank.
are available that allow older shanked machines to use the newer snap on feet. If you are interested in purchasing additional or replacement presser feet for your sewing machine, you will need to know the make and model of your machine and the shank style.
The presser foot that you will use the most for basic sewing is the all-purpose foot which typically comes with every sewing machine. It has a slotted opening for the needle that allows both straight stitching and zig-zag stitching like the example shown to the left.
A variation on this foot is the straight stitch foot which has a small hole instead of a slot and is only used for straight stitching. A straight stitch foot creates better contact with the feed dogs allowing more even motion and more consistent stitches.
This strange looking foot is the buttonhole foot for my particular machine. Buttonhole feet vary the most from machine to machine, but most are similar in appearance with a rectangular frame that holds the fabric in place. The white part of the foot shown here moves up and down in a channel inside the metal frame to allow forward and backward motion as the buttonhole is stitched. The buttonhole foot is one that has to be purchased specifically to match your machine, so if you need to purchase a replacement, contact the sewing machine manufacturer directly.
Here, you can see a zipper foot. What a zipper foot does is allow you sew close to the edge of a zipper. My zipper foot snaps either on the left or right side, but other zipper feet that I have seen have the ability to slide left or right of the needle by loosening a screw.
A zipper foot can also be used to sew on trim or piping by allowing you to sew next to the bulky part of the trim/piping more easily than with a regular foot. There are universal zipper feet available if you need to replace yours or would like to try a different style of zipper foot.
Presser Feet - Narrow Rolled Hem and Ruffler Foot