What is a Presser Foot

What is a presser footIf you’re new to sewing and sewing machines then learning all the terminology is a bit of a learning curve.

An often asked question is “what is a presser foot,” I remember wondering this many years ago. Initially, I thought a presser foot was the foot peddle, you press it with your foot to make the sewing machine go, made perfect sense to me!

Simply put, A presser foot is an attachment for your sewing machine which  holds fabric flat as it is fed through the machine and stitched.

Presser Feet for Quilting

Types of Presser-FootThere are many different kinds of presser feet, but I’m going to look at the pressure feet used in quilting. Pressure feet have different fittings depending on the sewing machine you’re using. Some use the  snap on feet, some screw on (most modern machines will use the snap on type.) You get high shank and low shank and slant shank. Make sure you’re buying the correct presser foot for your machine if the ones you need aren’t included as standard.

Standard Presser Foot

All sewing machines will come with this foot and it’s the one most used for general sewing. It’s suitable for straight and zig zag sewing, and most projects can be sewn with this foot.

Walking foot for quiltingWalking Foot

This usually comes as an added extra for most sewing machine packages, but occasionally it will be included in the price, like the Singer 7469q or the Juki Exceed F600 Quilt and Pro Special

The walking foot is probably the most often used foot by quilters and is also known as an “even feed” foot. The walking foot feeds all the layers through at the same rate, let me explain.

When you’re sewing layers, the fabric underneath closest to the feed dogs is fed through slightly faster than the layers above. You need accuracy for piecing a quilt together, bindings, and sewing through the 3 layers of a quilt hence the need for a walking foot. It’s also good for “slippery” fabrics like silk and satin.

This hasn’t happened to me, but I have heard reports that overuse of the walking foot can damage your machine. One way to avoid this is to buy a machine with integrated dual feed such as the Janome Memory Craft 6600 which uses the patented AccuFeed system.

This video from Singer demonstrates the walking foot in action.

Quarter Inch Foot

quarter inch presser footSometimes known as a patchwork foot, I love it! This foot makes it so easy to get an accurate quarter inch seam when piecing your quilt together.

You don’t need to draw the seam allowance or trust your eye. The “trust your eye” way is a method I tried to use many times, unsuccessfully I should add!  The quarter inch foot has a built in guide to keep your fabric lined up correctly.

You don’t need to draw the seam allowance or trust your eye. The “trust your eye” way is a method I tried to use many times, unsuccessfully I should add!  The quarter inch foot has a built in guide to keep your fabric lined up correctly.

Just make sure you haven’t accidently switched to zig zag or the result will be a broken needle! So for the accuracy of seaming, the quarter inch foot is your best friend.

Darning Foot

darning footThis can also be known as a stippling foot or free-motion embroidery foot.

The darning foot is for using when the feed dogs are lowered such as in free motion quilting and embroidery.

It can come with a closed or an open toe, for quilting the open toe is best as it’s easier to see as you’re sewing.


Bias Binder Foot

binder footA very nifty tool to have in your sewing box. It’s  used to apply pre-folded bias binding tape to the edge of fabric in one easy step. The bias tape is fed through the small funnel for folding and guiding over the fabric edge.

You can use straight, decorative and zig zag stitch to attach the binding.

This tool is specifically for attaching bias binding without the need for lots of pinning and basting.


Quilting Bar 

Guide bar for quiltingNot strictly a pressure foot, this attaches to the back side of the pressure foot. It can be adjusted to different widths for quilting evenly spaced lines on your quilt.

You can see in the image how the bar follows the first line of your quilt, another handy tool!

Of course, there are many other kinds of presser feet for sewing machines, you can read more about them  in some of my sewing machine reviews


So if you’ve ever asked the question “what is a presser foot” now you know! If you have any questions or comments about this article please leave them below.

14 thoughts on “What is a Presser Foot”

  1. Hi Kathy,
    I had no idea there were so many different kinds or that it even was called a presser foot. Like you, I would have guessed the foot pedal! lol
    I learn something new all the time. 🙂 Looks like some of those would come in quite handy, especially the open toe darning foot so you can see what you are doing.

    • I felt real silly when I found out what a presser foot actually was!I do like the open toe foot, but the 1/4-inch foot is still my favorite!

  2. Hey Kathy. Great website. Quilting looks pretty hard. A good friend of my wife gave my son a quilt for graduation a couple of weeks ago. She took old photos of him growing up and printed them on cloth squares to make the quilt. She worked on it for months, that was the best gift ever.

    • What a beautiful gift to receive Steve, and a good idea for a memory quilt. Quilting isn’t really hard once you learn the basics, but you do need patience!

  3. Hi Kathy,

    I still have quilts that my grandmother made and they are such treasures to me! You site is packed full of great information for both enthusiasts and beginners…I never knew there were so many options available for presser feet…especially the bias binder foot. That looks like a winner to me – taking a whole lot of work out of attaching bias tape. Thanks for the tips!


    • For me, attaching the bias binding can be the trickiest part of finishing a quilt. It’s always good to have extra tools to help with the job!
      How wonderful to have your Grandmas quilts, so precious for you to have Keely. 🙂

  4. I would never have guest what a presser foot was. Thanks for explaining it. I always thought quilting was really difficult but you make it look so easy. This website is a great resource for anyone who is just learning.

    • I really think it could have had a better name than presser foot, quite confusing for beginners! No, quilting isn’t really that hard but it takes time and patience to create a masterpiece!Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Wendy. 🙂

  5. I just realized why a had such hard time sewing: I wasn’t using the right pressure foot (or I was using the same one for everything…) I will use the bias binder foot instead of putting hundreds of needles 🙂 I’m a beginner and I find it hard mostly because I try to make it on my own with basic knowledge. It takes both patience and cleverness to do quilting crafts. Your website is so inspiring!

    • You can do a lot of things with the standard pressure foot, but it gets tricky when you try to quilt with one! If you’ve any questions you’d like to ask feel free to contact me anytime. 🙂

  6. Hi Kathy and wow! You know a lot more about quilting and sewing than I can ever hope to achieve! I really love the close up photos which are really helpful for me to understand how to put your techniques into practice. Thank you very much for taking the time to post.

    • Hi Nicola, I’m happy using all those photos are working for you! It’s all the little details in learning how to quilt that can trip you up. I had no idea a walking presser foot could be so useful till I started using one!

  7. Hey Kathy,
    Great website! You’ve opened up my eyes so much. My machine has been sitting idle most of the time. Never thought that it could do so much. Like many others, I’v e been using only 1 foot presser out of the many in the box. Now with all the knowledge you share, sewing and quilting are definitely interesting crafts.
    Thanks for the knowledge and I will sure come back for more updates. 🙂

    • You should get your sewing machine back out again, there are plenty of quick and easy quilt projects you could make!Glad you enjoyed your visit, thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂


Leave a Comment