My Sewing Feet: The Essential, The Useful, and the Splurge

Detail image of a sewing machine with a zipper foot being used to sew black piping.
Regular Zipper Foot Used to Sew Piping

Have you ever had a sewing breakdown as you try to figure out which foot does what? I did. I have way too many feet, and many of them were mysteries to me until I spent an afternoon labeling and organizing them. Some I have never used; others, I’d be lost without. Organizing my sewing feet has helped me be more efficient as I sew. Hopefully, it will also prevent accidental purchases—I bought the same foot twice… twice! I have two regular zipper feet and two invisible sewing feet.

There are so many feet options out there, it is sometimes hard to figure out what you ready need. I came up with a lineup of feet that work really well for the kind of sewing I do (garments). These are the feet that I go back to over and over. Depending on the kind of sewing that you do, your lineup may look very different from mine.

The Essential

Standard Foot

Image of a hand holding a standard foot against a white background.

This is the foot that does most of the work. It is the one you use to get a straight and zigzag stitch. It comes with the machine since you cannot sew without it.

Regular Zipper Foot

This one is used when you want to sew a regular zipper. It is also used when you are finishing an invisible zipper seam because it can get in the very tight spot that is the bottom if the invisible zipper. On a pinch, it can replace an invisible zipper. You can also use it when adding piping.

Image of a hand holding a regular zipper foot against a white background.

The Useful

These are the feet that you can live without, yeah, but why would you want to? They are cheap and can save you a lot of time… and time is much more precious than money.

Invisible Zipper Foot

This foot is used to sew an invisible zipper. It has two grooves, one for each side of the zipper, that allow the needle to get very close to the zipper teeth. Every so often, the stitching gets so close to the zipper teeth that the pull gets stuck. Just pay attention to what you are doing, and you’ll be fine.

One-step Buttonhole Foot

Image of a hand holding the plug of a one-step buttonhole foot, the foot on a white table. There is a black button on the foot.

This is the magic foot. If your machine has the one-step buttonhole feature, this foot will sew you a perfect buttonhole with one touch of the pedal. There are limitations—and I don’t know if this a universal issue, or just my machine—when the section where the buttonhole will be is too thick, but this is definitely a great option if you sew a lot of buttonholes.

The Splurge

It is kinda silly to talk about splurges when some of these feet are $5-$15 dollars, but I have labeled them “splurge” because you don’t need them—but you might really, really want them. You can sew a lifetime of garments without ever trying one of them. You might even use one of them and go right back to life without it—but you’ll have to admit, it made life much easier.

Other feet are highly specialized, so if you don’t work with a certain kind of fabric or construction, you might not have use for them… but you still want them! Go ahead and splurge if you have the budget for it.

Teflon Foot

When Halloween comes, the Teflon foot comes out. I really enjoy using vinyl when I make my costumes, and the Teflon foot makes sewing with this material a breeze

Image of a white Teflon foot on someone's hand against a white table.


Walking Foot

The walking foot has a set of feed dogs that helps feed fabric through the machine evenly, preventing slipping or bunching. It is very useful when you are working with fabrics like slinky knits or velvet or multiple layers of fabric—its grabby nature helps push the layers of the fabric forward.

Overcasting Foot

The foot gives you the look of a raw edge finished with a serger without the serger. It allows thread to wrap around the edge of the fabric, preventing unraveling. It is a great solution if you want a nicely finished seam without the cost of a serger. I have it as a backup in case my serger ever goes kaput.

Patchwork Presser Foot

I had no idea this was a patchwork foot until I organized my feet. Because this foot is so narrow, I use it when I am understitching. From center needle position, I can align my foot with the stitch line and sew 1/8 to 1/4 away from the edge of the foot.

Image of a hand holding a patchwork foot against a white table.

What Is Your Setup?

Let me know in the comments about your favorite sewing feet. I’m always curious about what other sewists use and how they approach their projects.


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