Sewing Machine Feet Guide 48

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What Is That Sewing Machine Foot??!

What are all those sewing machine feet? The sewing machine foot guide


I am often asked to identify random sewing machine feet that have been found at the bottom of old boxes of sewing supplies and explain what they do, and what new feet will fit their machine, so here is our A-Z guide to sewing machine feet.

Will this foot fit my sewing machine?

Low Shank

Most domestic sewing machines are low shank. This refers to where the screw is placed on the metal pole that the sewing machine foot or adapter is attached to. To be certain, all you need to do is measure the distance from the screw to the bottom of a standard presser foot. Low shank machines should measure 3/4"

Low shank machines will take universal fitting feet.

sewing bee fabrics low shank

High Shank

High shank machines are usually industrial style machines. They have a higher screw placement on their pole, so measure 1 1/4" from screw to presser foot. High shank machines can take all universal snap-on feet as long as a high shank adapter is used. The only exceptions here may be feet such as the knit foot where there is part of the foot designed to sit over the needle bar. This may or may not line up depending on your machine. Any screw-on feet such as darning feet or ruffler feet need to be specifically for high shank machines.

high shank sewing bee fabrics

Singer Slant Shank

Singer slant shank is an old style of Singer sewing machine. It looks similar to a low shank but when you look at it from side-on, the pole is at a slight angle. These machines have their own snap-on feet. Note these are different to universal snap-on feet, and both high and low screw-on feet will not be compatible. Singer slant shank measures 1 1/8" from screw to the base of the presser foot.

How do I attach that foot?

Snap-on Feet

First, you need an adapter. Most modern sewing machines come with the adapter already screwed in place.


adapter change over sewing bee fabrics

If your machine feet are screwed directly onto the machine, you may need to hunt through the bits that came with the machine, or buy one (Available HERE). Adapters have a quick-release lever usually at the back. Simply lift the lever with the presser foot raised and the current foot will drop off. To attach the new foot, place it down under the adapter (I always find I have to place it a little further forward than you'd expect). Lower the presser foot onto the snap-on foot to clip it on.

Screw-on Feet

Taking the little screwdriver that comes with the machine (or hunt around for a similar one!) unscrew the current foot. Take your new foot and line up the claw-like part around the pole so the screw hole sits centrally. Some screw on feet also fix to the needle bar, so you will have to hook it around this first before lining up the screw. Take your screwdriver and screw it back in place. Note that hand tightening the screw is not enough and the screw is likely to work lose in no time.

Side cutter tutorial sewing bee fabrics how to unscrew your machine foot
Putting the screw in to the ruffler foot to secure
Attaching the ruffler

What Are All Those Feet?!!?

Bias Binding Foot


Bias binding is passed through the plastic guide on the right. Hold the fabric you are joining it to pushed up against the centre of your bias binding from the left. As you sew, this sewing machine foot holds the layers aligned to join them together. Check out our tutorial for more information HERE

Blind Stitch Foot / Blind Hem Foot

This sewing machine foot is used to create a hem that is barely visible from the front, so is mainly used for garments, especially formal wear, or for curtains. A special stitch is required to do this. For non-stretch materials such as cotton, you will want a stitch that looks like a large zigzag stitch pointing to the left with a straight stitch between. For stretch fabrics, it should be a large zigzag with small zigzags in between. The fabric is folded in such a way that the stitch is sewn on the fold, with the foot guide against the fold, and once opened out again, only the peak of the intermittent large zigzag shows through as a tiny stitch.

The guide can also be used for edge joining, topstitching, making pintucks or to stitch in the ditch.

Braiding Foot


This sewing machine foot has a central opening allowing you to pass braid, cord or ribbon through to then be stitched onto your fabric as an embellishment. It has an adjustable feature to allow you to vary your space to accommodate the width of your braid, cord or ribbon. This lets you ensure enough room for movement but a close enough hold to keep the position accuracy. Depending on the width of your braid or cord, a straight stitch or zigzag stitch is used to secure it in place. You may wish to use a similar coloured or contrasting thread, or an invisible thread.


Button Foot

This little foot sits on top of the button to hold it in place while you sew it in. No need to cover feed dogs for most machines, but I would recommend experimenting first before finding out the hard way on your garment! Just select a zigzag stitch, then adjust your stitch width until the needle lines up with both holes (do 4 hole buttons in 2 sets of 2). Find out more in our tutorial HERE

Buttonhole Foot

Most sewing machines will come with either a 1 step or 4 step buttonhole stitch. Follow the instructions for your stitch, while the foot keeps your buttonhole perfectly aligned then open up the centre with a seam ripper or embroidery scissors. Find out more in our tutorial about it HERE.

Cording Feet


This foot comes with different quantities of holes as different variations. The 3 hole foot can be adjustable where the thread slides under the guide bars, but the 5 hole and 7 hole versions need threading through set holes. It is far easier to thread the holes then snap the sewing machine foot onto your machine in my opinion rather than trying to thread on the machine. Your cord, decorative thread or thin ribbon are passed through the guide or hole as you sew it in place with a zigzag, straight stitch or decorative stitch. Keep in mind the set holes will only take threads up to the size of that hole so it may not be compatible with some ribbons and trims. This technique can be used to embellish a project, add a piped effect around the edge of fabric or an appliqué. Or, by making sure you don't catch any of your cord with your needle, you can also use it to gather fabric, by pulling the thread tighter through the stitching tunnel.

Darning (AKA Free Motion) Foot

This sewing machine foot allows you to use your sewing machine like a pencil and draw in any direction you like while still guarding your fingers. Lower or cover your feed dogs. Perfect for machine embroidery or quilting. Find out more in our tutorial about it HERE.

Double Welting Foot

This foot has large grooves on the underside which allows cording or piping to pass through underneath.If you wrap fabric around the cording you can make your own enclosed cord or centre covered cord in a seam to give a piped edge finish.

Edge Joining (AKA Stitch In The Ditch) Foot



The central guide on this foot can either be used to push 2 fabric edges together and join them by zigzag stitching (or similar) or it can be used to help keep your stitching lined up with a previous line of stitching such as a seam in quilting so that your new line of stitching becomes hidden perfectly in your previous stitching or seam line. You can also use it to follow a line drawn with a temporary fabric marker or markings on your fabric pattern.

Embroidery (AKA Open Toe) Foot


This foot is clear and has a wide space for sewing. This allows room for large decorative stitches and makes it easier to embroider around raised areas such as sequins or appliques.

Flower Stitch Foot



This foot allows you to stitch in a perfect circle. By using decorative stitches, you can make flower shapes. Think of it like a spirograph for your sewing machine.

Fringe Foot


This machine foot has a raised bar in the centre, so as you zigzag over it, it creates extra slack in the thread after the stitch is passed through, creating a fringe effect. It can also be used to sew on buttons where you want the button fit to be looser to go through thicker materials into the buttonhole.

Gathering Foot & Double Gathering Foot


This foot has an uneven surface underneath that gathers fabric as you sew. The amount of gathering can be adjusted by changing your stitch length and stitch tension and your stitching speed.

Hemmer Feet (AKA Wide Rolled Hem Feet)

This family of feet are best known for the narrowest hemmer foot - the rolled hem (see below). All of these feet work the same way, but the width of the hem created will depend on the size of the feed used (available up to 1" width). Start your hem off by making a small fold the width of your guide, then fold that under again so that the raw edge is enclosed. Put it under the foot and sew a few stitches to secure in place. Now leaving the needle down but the presser foot lifted up, thread the hem into the guide. Lower back down and stitch while keeping slight tension on the fabric and curl the fabric as you go to help feed it through. Make sure to keep the fabric central or it will slip out of the guide, especially with narrower hems. Note that lightweight fabrics are better suited to narrow hems and heavier fabrics will get better results with wider hems.

Knit Foot

sewing machine feet Knit foot

This sewing machine foot has a small gripper underneath. It's long upwards prong fits over the needle bar to lift and lower in time with the needle. This means that it grips the fabric as the needle pierces through then let's go of the fabric as the feed dogs pull it through. This takes off any foot tension that would otherwise distort stretch fabrics.

Over Edge (AKA Overcast) Foot

sewing machine feet Over cast sewing foot 1 large

This little foot has a guide bar that allows zigzag or overlocking stitches to wrap around, maintaining perfect tension to allow you to sew over the edge of your fabric to bind it together or stop it fraying. Find out more in our tutorial about it HERE.

Pintuck Foot

sewing machine feet 9 groove pin tuck footSewing machine Feet Sewing Bee Fabrics 5 groove pintuck

The pintuck foot uses a twin needle on a straight stitch to create lines of raised tucks. The higher the stitch tension, the greater the tuck created.

The 5 groove foot is more suitable for heavier weight materials, while the 9 groove foot is better for lighter fabrics.

Quarter Inch Quilting Foot

sewing machine feet Quarter inch quilting foot with guide

This foot has a guide to the right. Push your fabric edges up against this guide for a perfect 1/4 inch seam or top stitching. The marking on the toe of the foot is there for keeping your perfect distance on a corner. Once the furthest line on the foot matches the edge of the fabric, leave the needle down, lift the foot, twist the fabric, then off you go again. Find out more tips on how to get the perfect quarter inch seam HERE.

Rolled Hem Foot

sewing machine feet Rolled hem foot

This foot is part of the hemmer foot family. It creates very narrow hems and is only suitable for light weight fabrics. I wouldn't recommend anything heavier weight or thicker than a quilting cotton. Start your hem off by making a small fold the width of your guie, then fold that under again so that the raw edge is enclosed. Put it under the foot and sew a few stitches to secure in place. Now leaving the needle down but the presser foot lifted up, thread the hem into the guide. Lower back down and stitch while keeping slight tension on the fabric and curl the fabric as you go to help feed it through. Make sure to keep the fabric central or it will slip out of the guide.

Roller Foot

sewing machine feet Roller foot 2

This foot grips the fabric with a roller, so as the feed dogs pull the fabric from underneath, the roller keeps pressure constant yet moving from above. This sewing machine works best for fabrics that ordinarily would stick or be difficult to work with such as waterproof fabrics or fur.

Round Bead (AKA Sequin) Foot

sewing machine feet round Bead foot 2

Strings of beads, pearls or sequins are passed through the groove in the centre of this presser foot. Select a zigzag stitch and check needle clearance for the stitch width. You may want to use invisible thread with your needle for a more professional finish.

Ruffler Foot

sewing machine feet ruffler sewing foot large 5

This foot allows you to make gathers and ruffles at uniform distances quickly and easily, and can even stitch ruffles to flat fabric at the same time. The dials on the foot allow you to adjust both pleat depth and frequency. Find out more in our tutorial about it HERE.

Satin Stitch / Zigzag Foot

Sewing machine Feet Sewing Bee Fabrics Clear satin stitch foot Sewing machine Feet Sewing Bee Fabrics zigzag standard multipurpose

This is your standard multipurpose sewing machine foot. Plastic versions allow greater visibility as you stitch.

Side Cutter (AKA Cut & Hem) Foot

sewing machine feet Side cutter II 4

This sewing machine foot is the closest you can get to having an overlocker on a normal sewing machine. Like the over edge foot, there is a central bar that the stitches wrap around, however this also has a blade to cut the fabric before stitching. Cut a small notch and line this up with the protected blade to begin. Find out more in our tutorial about it HERE.

Stitch Guide Foot

sewing machine feet Stitch guide foot

This foot has markings up to 1 1/2 inches to the right side of the foot. This is very useful when you are wanting to sew parallel to a line or sew lines closely together without having to mark them all or worry about them looking wobbly such as when shirring.

Walking Foot

sewing machine feet Walking foot narrow 1

This sewing machine foot feeds the fabric through from above at the same speed as the feed dogs work from below by hooking around the needle bar to time internal movement to the speed of the needle. This is especially useful when you are working with 2 or more layers of fabric, especially if there is any stretch to one or more of the materials. Narrower foot plates allow for greater visibility and working in smaller spaces, whereas wider foot plates add greater stability. The metal bar attached is a guide to help you line up stitching for example when quilting lines at set distances. This is quickly and easily detachable if not required.

Zipper Foot - Standard

sewing machine feet Zipper foot
This foot allows you to stitch closely to zipper teeth (or the edge of any other raised surface). The needle sits in the small notch at the side. The double snap positions allow you to switch which side you stitch close to easily.

Zipper Foot - Narrow

sewing machine feet Zipper foot narrow
The narrow zipper foot works exactly as the standard zipper except that there is only one bar to attach this foot to your sewing machine. This allows it to get in to narrower spaces, but does mean that on most sewing machines you can only position your needle to stitch a zip in one direction rather than being able to pick which side with the regular zipper foot.

Zipper Foot - Invisible

Sewing machine Feet Sewing Bee Fabrics Invisible zipper 3 Sewing machine Feet Sewing Bee Fabrics Clear invisible zipper

The invisible zipper foot is designed to make putting in invisible zippers quickly and easily. The foot has grooves underneath to allow for the teeth of the zip. Some zips may have wider teeth though so you may want to check the foot easily runs over them before starting to stitch. Clear plastic allows for greater visibility as you stitch.

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment.

Happy Sewing!


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48 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Feet Guide

  • John Roff

    I have an old 45k singer. Is there a suitable roller foot available for this machine. I wish to sew leather. Thank you. JR.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      As far as I can see, the fittings for the old 45k singers look quite different to any of the more modern machines so I would suggest consulting Singer or a Singer machine specialist – they might be able to point you in the direction of parts or second-hand sales. Sorry, I cant be more helpful here. Good luck finding one!

  • Lesley

    Hi. I bought a cheap set of feet from eBay after treating myself to a sewing machine. I haven’t had the chance to try most of them yet – honestly I have no idea how/when to use them!

    But I am having a problem with one specifically and I’m wondering if it’s that I’m using a cheap foot, or if it’s something else I’m doing wrong. The little gripper bit on my knit foot gets itself stuck on the twin needle! Comes right off the foot and up when the needle lifts! I haven’t been able to find anything about why this might be happening. It’s not even on every stitch so I don’t think it’s needle position, but it’s very regularly. Can you help?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      I have one that has a tendency to pop off too. It sounds like either the twin needle is catching it or bunching the fabric up right next to it, or the gripper just isn’t pushed on hard enough. Unless it’s a very delicate fabric then they are usually fine to sew without the gripper on (just check on a bit of scrap first – I lost my gripper for a couple of months and couldn’t tell the difference on most fabrics!!!) Or maybe you could just try glueing it on?

  • Denise Blackerby

    Thank you for all the info on the various feet. I have a total of 5 sewing machines and 2 embroidery machines. All of them came with various feet, but I had to figure out which was which. This has made my sewing experience much better.

  • shehnaz kadri

    Very well explained .The image and illustration is really very good. Helps a lot to understand our machine in detailed.I have Brothercs600i.The feet space ,Quilting feet all were new word for me.This article hepled a lot to undertand.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      That depends on the finish you want to achieve. You can sew it with a straight stitch, which I would do the same stitch length as you would do for sewing a seam. If you want to do a zigzag stitch then you’ll want to pick a medium – wide width with a fairly narrow length. Have a play and see what you like best 🙂

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Sorry to hear it wouldn’t print out for you. I don’t have this guide in another format at the moment. Maybe try selecting all, and copying and pasting to a word document to print it out that way?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      As long as they have the same shank type for screw on feet to attach to e.g. most recent domestic machines (approx. last 15 years, before then may differ more) have a low shank but singer slant shank, industrial machines and bernina sewing machines have different fixtures. For the snap on feet, as far as I am aware, all sewing machines except singer slant shank and bernina and a some of the very old machines take universal fitting snap on feet. If it is an industrial high shank machine, not all come with adapters that take the universal snap on feet, so we have an adapter to screw on that does. There is always the odd exception to the rule, but on the whole most do.

  • roma

    please traducir a spañol
    ,.- hermoso instructivo nos sirve de guia para quienes estamos aprendiendo el arte de la costura y la gran variedad de cosas que podemos hacer al saber usar cada uno de los prensatelas,.- de antemano gracias.

  • Sandy

    I have a Bernina Artista 200 & would like to buy a walking foot for it. However, I don’t want to spend the $250 for a new Bernina foot. I have seen generic walking feet , on eBay, & wondered if they are okay to use. The price of the generic is around $50-$75. The venders accept returns and state upfront that the feet fit my machine but are made in Taiwan and are not made by Bernina. What do you recommend?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Bernina tend to have very different attachments for their feet which don’t appear compatible with the universal fitting feet. I’ve never had the chance to use a Bernina so I really wouldn’t like to say which non-Bernina feet would be best. However my experience of generic feet for the universal fitting feet has always been good, so if it were me I would probably check on the conditions for returns and look at the seller feedback to be sure your money is safe for trialling it.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      That made me giggle! Glad you’ve found it helpful. Happy 2016 to you too… may your year be filled with lots of fabric and no skipped stitches!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      I haven’t found a wholesaler that holds them yet, so we haven’t got any in stock I’m afraid. You can fold cardboard as a temporary solution though.

  • Tanita

    I wish I knew how to use a machine, I know it is pretty simple to do everyday hems and stitching but all still seems so complicated to me. I do remember always watching my mum sew when I was younger she still does a lot now actually and makes the children bunting among other bits. I think I need to put my hand in at making some bits, it is so fun being creative and learning new skills. If I do I will be sure to use your carefully prepared and very detailed guide to machine foots. Thank you for sharing. x

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      That’s very kind of you. I was about where you were a couple of years ago. I got a set of feet and quickly realised that it’s so much easier if you have the right tools especially a quarter inch quilting foot and an overcast foot.

  • Mudpie Fridays

    Wow I had no idea there were so many! I am a very novice machinist preferring to hand sew! But I have bookmarked your pages as I think there will be loads of useful tips on here. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      That’s very kind of you. The feet really do make things so much easier. If you can spend a little time getting to know your sewing machine, you’ll be amazed how much quicker you can make most things!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      haha my great aunt taught me how to cheat at cards! I could be earning far more if I’d paid more notice to that!!! 😉

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      You’d be surprised how many people feel like that. Maybe try sewing more with paper first (eg. to decorate the front of cards). It’s much easier to control and a great way to build up confidence.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      I only found out about them a couple of years ago, and suddenly found I was far better at sewing than I thought! It’s fantastic how much more professional you can make your sewing look with the right tools