Different Sewing Machine Feet and How to Use Them

Sewing machine feet names vary between manufacturers of sewing machines, but the basic look and action of the feet are the same. When purchasing a sewing machine, only the basic feet are included. Additional feet can be purchased, depending on the function needed. The most common feet are the standard sewing feet and quilting feet.

Standard Sewing Machine Feet

The Reverse Pattern sewing machine foot is also known as the All-Purpose Foot. It will stitch straight stitches in forward and reverse, along with pattern and decorator stitches.

The Buttonhole Foot has a wide hole opening for manual sewing of buttonholes. The bottom of the foot has two grooves, allowing free movement of the buttonhole stitching.

Quilting or Patchwork Feet

Patchwork foot, freehand quilting foot and walking foot

The Patchwork Foot is also known as the Quarter Inch Foot. This foot assists with sewing a perfect quarter inch quilting seam. The inside of the foot markings are for a 1/8 inch seam. The markings on the front of the foot mark 1/4 inch in front of the needle for perfect square corner turning. This foot is a straight-stitch-only foot; zig zag and decorator stitches cannot be done. If your machine allows for a straight stitch plate, use it for better control of the fabric.

The Freehand Quilting foot is a clear plastic circular foot for maximum visibility while stitching. Freehand quilting, also known as freemotion quilting, requires you to drop the feed dogs on the machine and use your hands to control and move the fabric. The fabric can be placed in a hoop if desired, but not required. Freehand quilting includes stipple quilting, echo quilting or outline quilting.

The Walking Foot is used when stitching the layers of a quilt together. The Walking Foot uses a walking technique for increased control of feeding the fabric into the sewing machine. Guide bars can be added to the foot if sewing rows of straight lines across the quilt.

Other Sewing Machine Feet

Open embroidery foot, buttonhole foot with slide, and ruffler foot

The Open Embroidery Foot is available on sewing machines that also have an embroidery function. The front of the foot has been cut away to create a visible area for the decorative stitching.

The Buttonhole Foot with Slide is available on computerized sewing machines. A slide on the side of the foot measures the button, and the computerized memory will remember the size and sew a perfect buttonhole multiple times.

The Ruffler Foot is a tool for easy gathering and pleating of fabric. The foot works best on light- and medium-weight fabrics, using a single layer. This foot works well when long sections of gathers or pleats need to be created for home decorating projects or children's boutique clothing.