The little metal piece that attaches to the sewing machine around the needle is called a presser foot. There are several different models of presser feet and each has its own specific use. If your machine did not come with one or more feet that you would like to use for a project, then you can order them online through Amazon.com, eBay.com or SewingPartsOnline.com. SewingPartsOnline.com offers a variety of replacement parts for sewing machines including power cords and foot pedals and manuals. If you pick up a sewing machine at a garage sale or inherit one, then this is the website to visit in order to find and purchase the part that you need. They offer parts for models that are up to 40 years old.
ZigZag Foot – This is the standard presser foot that comes with all sewing machines. It has a wide enough opening to allow for a moderate sized zig zag stitch as well as a straight stitch. Presser feet get their name because they press down on the fabric so that it is smooth for the needle to enter. The teeth that are underneath the foot work to move the fabric forward while sewing.
Zipper Foot – This presser foot is used for sewing zippers and piping. When sewing a zipper, you want to minimize the amount of edge that is seen so when zipped it creates a smooth seam. There are different types of zippers available at your local sewing store. The two main options are either a traditional zipper which is best used on bags, backpacks and clothing items where it is hidden. An example of this type of zipper and its use would be on your favorite pair of blue jeans. The other common type of zipper is a dress zipper. This one has smaller teeth that take up less space. When sewn in properly, this zipper creates a seamless look for the item. Commonly this is used in dress pants or dresses. When making pillows or furniture covers at home you will likely use piping to create the stiff edge. This is also used when making purses or similar bags. The zipper foot allows you to easily get close to the edge to create a tight, smooth seam.
Buttonhole Foot – One of the best features of a sewing machine is that you can create perfect button holes. Each buttonhole foot has its own instructions that can be found in the instruction manual for your machine on how to size it and operate it. Be sure to read through in order to use this foot properly. Basically a buttonhole foot features enough space to create a button hole of any size depending on how you have programmed your sewing machine. It sews the edge around that you commonly see on your button holes that are made by commercial manufacturers. Once you sew the edging you will trim out the fabric using a buttonhole maker.
Cording Foot – The cording foot is similar to the zipper foot. The primarily difference is that the cording foot is designed to stitch over top of thin cording when it is inside the fabric. This technique is primarily used for decorative purposes and quilting. With a cording foot you can create zig zag stitches overtop of several pieces of thin cording at once.
¼” Seam Foot – The average sewing machine foot allows for a ½” seam. You will notice on your sewing machine that there are little markers to indicate where you should line of the fabric for the seam allowance that is necessary for a project. If you want a smaller seam then you need to use the ¼” seam foot. This piece allows the needle to get closer to the edge while still holding the fabric in place and keeping it from rolling up while sewing.
Narrow Rolled Hem Foot – On fine fabrics you often want to create a discrete hem without creating the bulk of double folding fabric to hide the edges. The narrow rolled hem foot allows you to do just that. It rolls the fabric slightly while it is sewing to create a small and discrete hemline.
Quilting ¼” Seam Foot – Quilters used to be faced with the challenge of sewing everything by hand but the development of new feet for sewing machines makes life a little easier. For example, the quilting ¼” seam foot allows quilters to make perfect corners and angles when sewing different pieces of fabric together.
Walking Foot – The walking foot is typically a secondary attachment you can buy for your sewing machine. This piece is best used for quilts or other thick projects. When you are sewing multiple levels of fabric together for quilts, covers and dresses it can be difficult for the little teeth below to move all of the fabric uniformly. This creates an uneven stitch and poor quality work. The walking foot gives you the best of both worlds by “walking” the top layers of fabric in line with the bottom layers with its own set of teeth while also pressing down on the fabric to create an even workspace for the needle.
Gathering Foot – Creating perfect ruffles is made easy with the use of a gathering foot. This piece carefully gathers the fabric to create the pinched look you are looking for. This is ideal for sewing curtains, tutus and party dresses.
Roller Foot – Some of the fabrics you work with when sewing are “sticky.” This means that they have a tendency to not move as smoothly as you would hope while the needle is moving. Such fabrics include leather and suede as well as tule and batting. Using the roller foot gives you the same pressure but also allows you to easily move the fabric forward without error.
Blind Hem Foot – When you want to create a unique hemline you will need to use the blind hem foot. This piece can be adjusted, based on the directions, to fit any hemline. There is a special way to fold fabric when using this type of foot so it is important to read through the user manual for that information.