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Best Foot Forward – A Guide to Sewing Machine Presser Feet & Accessories

When you got your new sewing machine home, did you eagerly unpack it and start sewing. wondering what the bag full of strange little metal and plastic thingies were for? And have you got them out and used any of them since? Or have you struggled on, wondering why the fabric was pulling and puckering?

Most sewing machines will come with an assortment of accessories designed to make your sewing easier, and if you only ever use the one presser foot, you’re making your life more difficult that it needs to be. Not only that, you may not realise that your machine can do a lot more for you. Even the most basic of models will likely come with at least 2 or 3 additional presser feet, other than the standard straight sewing foot that was attached. You may also be able to purchase many more from your local sewing machine dealer for a just few pounds, and if there’s a special function or sewing technique that you do often, then it’s well worth investing in them to make this job quicker and obtain a neat, even finish. Metal feet are more robust, but many have some plastic parts or are entirely plastic for better visibility.

The photogragh below shows just a small range of the most common accessories that may be available for your own make of machine, supplied either with the machine or available for a small additional charge. Some accessories are generic and will fit many types of machine, but others are specific to your particular brand, or even model of machine. Therefore always check that the foot is the correct one before using it or you may seriously damage your sewing machine.

Listed in order of photo Shown Left to Right: Top Row, middle row and bottom row

Standard sewing foot: self explanatory – the basic accessory for straight stitching

Blind Hem/Overlock: Has an adjustable screw to line up with the fabric edge when neatening raw edges by zig-zag or overlock stitches (if you have them). It is also used for blind hemming to create an invisible hem on trousers or skirts.

Zip foot: This is likely to be include as its a fairly basic accessory. It enables you to stitch down either side of a zip, close to the teeth.

Buttonhole foot: Most machines even in the budget range will likely also come with some form of a buttonhole foot and either a one step fully-automatic buttonhole, or a four step buttonhole function.

Darning foot: used with lowered (or covered) feed dogs, either for darning repairs or for free-motion embroidery. It’s not strictly necessary to use a darning foot, but it does help keep your fingers away from the needle.

Rolled Hem foot: helps the fabric curl over for neat rolled hems on fine fabric.

Bias binder: Not very common and binding can be applied without one, but it does enable binding to be applied in one step so would be useful if you use a lot of bias binding.

Flat Fell Foot: Another fairly obscure accessory and not one which would be supplied as standard, but useful if you want to make your own jeans.

(Next 2) Fancy stitching foot & Embroidery foot: hold fabric flat for decorative stitches

5-groove pin tuck: used in conjuction with a twin needle for decorative pin tucks

Edge/Quilting guide: Standard with most machines and allows evenly-spaced rows of stitching.

 

So get out the bag of accessories and your instruction book and find yourself some scrap fabric. Spend an hour or two working your way through the manual trying out the various presser feet and stitch settings, and learn what your machine can do for you. Sewing will be so much more fun, and you may attempt techniques that you didn’t think possible before.


A selection of presser feet and accessories for a Pfaff Creative Sewing Machine
A selection of presser feet and accessories for a Pfaff Creative 1475 Sewing Machine