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10 Sewing Machine Feet Explained

Updated: May 2, 2021

Use this sewing machine feet guide to make your sewing faster, more accurate and easier. There are a large amount of presser feet available and while they all perform different tasks, you only really need some of these on a regular basis. Also, you don't need all of them from the beginning. If you are just starting your sewing journey, the feet that your sewing machine come with are all you really need right now.

Depending on the brand of your machine, the 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.

More basics machines might have the sewing machine foot accessories come in plastic, rather than metal and that's totally fine, they will work just as well.

When buying feet, please make sure you buy the right accessories for your brand and model. Not all presser feet might fit all machines. So keep that in mind during your purchase.


All sewing machines come with an all-purpose foot which is used for straight and zig-zag stitches.

These can also be called general purpose foot, straight stitching foot, standard foot or even J foot, if you have a Brother sewing machine too. Each foot has a letter engraved referring to some of stitches the foot can be used for.

This foot you will use for more than 90% of your projects and it will be the most important sewing machine foot to sew beautiful garments and projects.


This foot enables 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. Some machines might only have the option to position the needle to the left of the foot. This depends on the brand you are using. One thing they all have in common is that the needle sits in the little slot of the zipper foot.

As the zipper foot sits slightly to the side of the shank, make sure you still keep your two threads underneath the foot and this time slightly to the right, so that it is still out of your way.


Most modern machines are able to create an overlocked edge similar to an overlocker/serger. This foot will help finish the edge of your fabric neatly.

The edge created by an overcast foot is slightly different for that from an overlocker/serger. An overlocker/serger cuts the raw edge before sewing whereas the overcast foot does not cut. This means it is important to trim the raw edge immediately to prevent fraying.


The look of buttonhole foot can vary a lot from brand to brand but its purpose is to create smooth and perfect looking buttonholes. The sewing of buttonholes also vary from each brand or model. Some machines come with a 1-step buttonhole function, other with a 4-step buttonhole function. Below you can see two buttonhole feet: one is from my old Butterfly (4-step buttonhole) and the other is for my Brother sewing machine (1-step buttonhole).

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 4 feet mostly came in your accessory kit with your sewing machine. The following feet you might have to buy separately. Again, make sure you buy accessories suitable for your brand and model.


For those that don't like sewing buttons by hand, yes there is a foot for it too. The Brother F420 has a button stitch too but you can simply set your stitch length to 0, and then change the width of your zig zag stitch, depending on how far the holes of button are apart. Normally it is 3.5mm but this might vary from button to button depending on the size. Changing the stitch length to 0 means that the feed dog underneath won't move the fabric and you can sew a zig zag in one spot and the button in place.


As the name gives it away, it is to sew an invisible zipper into a garment. The invisible zipper foot has two grooves underneath. When sewing an invisible zipper, it depends which side of the zipper teeth you are sewing and which groove to use. For this foot, you will have to have your needle in the centre position so that the needle can slide through the little hole in the centre of the invisible foot. If the needle is to the left or right, it will hit the foot and break the needle.

The zipper teeth should fit perfectly in the groove and needle stitches right next to the teeth.


This useful foot glides over leather and vinyl fabrics without sticking. I have used a Teflon foot when sewing with waxed cotton canvas or the leather toggles for the coats I made. Alternatively you can try and stick some masking or washi tape (we love that masking tape) underneath your regular all-purpose foot.


In general, a walking foot makes sewing thick layers easier because the presser foot on top of your fabric moves (or walks) too, in addition to the feed dogs underneath. In theory, this means that the top layer will move at the same speed as the bottom and middle layers. 

The walking foot is a specialty sewing machine foot that costs more than other feet and can take some fiddling to put on. There is a little bar that usually fits over the needle tightening screw.

I have seen people using them for quilting straight lines, personally I have used them sewing stretchy/knit fabrics in the past and also slippery silky fabrics. But it often depends on your sewing machine and how you handle the fabric, not to stretch it out while pinning to be honest. I haven't used mine for more than a year because I broke 5 needles in less than a week when I used it last. And I didn't have any trouble with slippery fabrics recently (knock on wood).


A narrow hemmer is a foot of any width designed to fold a fabric edge over twice and stitch it down flat, with a straight stitch positioned along the inside fold. This foot can come in different width from 2mm (1/8") to 6mm (1/4").

You see a narrow hem everywhere: on most blouses and shirts, many linings, sheer or circular skirts, as well as on scarves, ruffles, napkins, tablecloths, and handkerchiefs.


Most commonly, this foot is used to make a blind hem on the bottoms of pants, curtains, etc.

Don't get this confused with the edge or stitch in the ditch foot. As it has a similar guide attached to keep your stitching line exactly in the ditch - between the two joined fabric pieces or the seam. But you know what, I have used it as an alternative to stitch in the ditch. You basically stitching on top of a previously sewn seam.

Which foot do you use often? Is there are foot in your accessory kit that you don't know what it is and when to use it> Comment below and I'll try my best to help.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

Happy Sewing,


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