I may think that I have been sewing for years and in theory, I have but unfortunately, there are still so many things to learn. What you learn on a course or at university is such a small fraction of what there is that is associated with sewing. Many of these things can depend on your niche, if you are a dressmaker you may only learn certain skills and use certain tools. If you are a quilter you may only use certain feet and use a basic range of stitches. But what if you are like me and like to do a little bit of everything? Buying all these different tools, feet and attachments can all of a sudden get very daunting and expensive. By no means have I tried out all these feet, if any of them. But I am going to give it a go and find out what these feet actually do and are they essential to our sewing projects.
So what is a presser foot, for anyone who is new to sewing. This is an arm that comes down from the machine, this is the square flat plate that holds the needle. These feet can change or have attachments depending on your machine make/brand. I use a Bernina 1008 and the feet are interchangeable, this can make things easier and also harder. This means that the feet come as a separate and can cost more whereas attachments may cost half the price as they simply add on to the original.
The All Purpose Foot
This is the foot that comes with your sewing machine, this will be with your machine whether you buy brand new, second hand or refurbished. This is also known as a standard foot or zig zag/standard foot, but they are all the same but fit to different machines and brands.
The all purpose foot allows you to do what is in the name, it allows you to do pretty much anything and everything. There are some limitations but is the basic one you need and want as a beginner. The foot has a small slit that enables you to pull your threads towards the back to stop you from creating a birds nest. Most of the feet will have markings on to notify you of a clear and straight line, the Bernina has a simple line down the centre to mark the centre point. You can use a number of basic and decorative stitches using the all purpose foot.
The Zipper Foot
The zipper foot is thinner than the standard foot. It doesn’t just primarily have to be used for sewing zips but also a great tool to making piping. The difference with the zipper foot is that it is thinner and has noticeable notches on either side. These notches are in place for the needle to move down into the fabric. When using this foot remember to move your needle to the right of left before sewing as this may break your needle. There are different variations of this foot, some clip on to the original and some have a guide to measure the length away.
The Buttonhole Foot
I personally have never used this but as someone who has attempted to do a button hole on her own twice this week and both times failed, this may be a good foot for me to try. To use the buttonhole foot, simply slip in the button into the track to measure. Some buttonhole feet are electronic and will remember that particular size to help keep consistency but not all have this feature.
Many more experienced sewists say that when creating a buttonhole it is not about the foot or machine it is about the fabric, I have tried many a time to create a buttonhole with no other fabric or stabiliser and completed failed. I have recently been researching into a more successful buttonhole and many use 2 other components to create the perfect buttonhole. One of those being interfacing, these come in 3 weights and can be found easily online. The other is Tear away stabiliser or wash away stabiliser this is a film product that can be removed after the button hole has been made.
The Edge-Stitch Foot
This is another foot I have never had the pleasure of using before, this is definitely a foot I am thinking of investing into. The edge stitch foot is quite obvious and edge stitch, this foot enables you to follow a line or channel to create a second line perpendicular to the first line. This is great for edging around your applique or edge stitching a garment or project.
For the foot to work, there is a blade that is lower down on the bottom of the foot that sits in the groove of the seam or fabric and helps stabilise the next line of sewing. You can change the position of the needle to create a very centre seam that sews over the previous seam or move to the edge to create a side edge stitch. This foot is also great if you plan to attach a ribbon with a straight edge.
The Satin Stitch Applique Foot
This foot can sometimes come within a kit that comes with your sewing machine when bought new. If you buy second and all the spares and kit is there then you may be lucky to have one too. This is similar to the standard foot but is shorter in length and doesn’t have a metal bottom. The base is clear plastic, this helps the sewist see what direction they need to follow. The foot also has a great little ridge on the base that allows the foot to sit evenly over the already sewn line and the fabric. Other feet wouldn’t handle the bump well and so make it harder to sew. Another that some brands may include instead of this foot would be the Open Toe Foot. These products are similar and only vary in slight ways.
I have never used the satin stitch foot but reading reviews from other sewists, bloggers and online reviews it is definitely worth trying if you are very keen on applique projects. Check out The Seasoned Homemaker for more information on presser feet.
The Walking Foot
The walking foot is a popular tool to use for knits, quilting and those pesky slippy fabrics that are hard to sew. The general gist of this foot is that it comes with 2 add-ons which create 3 settings. The settings include the basic sole, the quilting sole and the edge stitch sole. These add-ons are a piece that works as an extra layer of feed dogs, this helps grip the top of the fabric as well as the bottoms. This is great for quilters using more the 1 layer of fabric as it keeps the layers together and prevents slips.
I am quite new to quilting and still finding new things every day to make my skills better, this is something I think would be great to try out as many times I have wondered why I can never seem to match a seam.
These are a small number of different presser feet available and that can be used. I have gone over a small sample of presser feet that I feel would be used by myself and be appropriate and fitting with the different projects I do. Personally only having tried 2 of the presser feet listed but reading plenty about them I would say to the right person they are worth using. I have done applique before on a standard foot and yes it can be done but not to the best standard or quality. I have also tried out quilting and used my standard foot and again have struggled a little. I honestly think if you are wanting to pursue a career with that particular craft that involves that presser foot or feet then it is worth the time and money to get it. I believe that if you are to do something you love and want to make the best quality product you can then you need the best tools to help you along the way.
Let me know in the comments below what presser feet you own and use the most.