Specialty sewing feet

In a previous post I mentioned buying a multi-pack of specialty sewing feet from Debra Justice’s  Labours Of Love Heirloom Sewing Supplies.  This was her 8-pack of specialty sewing feet, and includes a Pintuck Foot, Teflon Foot, Roller Foot, Overcast Foot, Shirring Foot, Darning Foot, Button Foot and a Top Stitch Foot (with an adjustable guide).

Specialty sewing feet that I picked up at the Creative Stitches sewing show, fall 2013

Specialty sewing feet that I picked up at the Creative Stitches sewing show, fall 2013

Keep reading for a description of each of these.

Pintuck Foot

The Pintuck Foot is used when making pintucks with a twin needle. You use the grooves under the foot to space the pintucks, and the grooves allow the tucks to slide under the foot.  You can also make corded pintucks by running a fine cord under the fabric, under the channeled foot.

Teflon Foot

The Teflon Foot is used when sewing ‘sticky’ or difficult fabrics like leather, vinyl and suede – the plastic foot slides over the fabric more easily to reduce tugging and pulling on the cloth as you sew.

This is my most-used specialty foot for sure – it works wonderfully when working with PVC, vinyl, etc.

Roller Foot

The Roller Foot is also for difficult fabrics – specifically textured ones like the aforementioned leather, suede, and vinyl, but also velvet, velveteen, and corduroy. The metal roller doesn’t leave imprints on fabric like regular feet can, and it also prevents pulling and tugging like the Teflon Foot.

Overcast Foot

The Overcast Foot is used to finish raw edges with a zig zag stitch without the edge rolling. Sometimes I want a rolled edge mind you…but this would be an option for more sturdy fabrics. Debra suggested this as an option when we don’t have a serger, or don’t want to set up the serger with a new colour for a small project. This is also called an Overlock Foot (different than a foot for an Overlock machine/Serger).

Shirring Foot

The Shirring Foot is totally different than the Ruffling Foot – it won’t give as much volume as a Ruffling Foot, but will make the job of gathering fabric a lot faster and easier than hand-gathering.  For more gathers, put your stitch length up as high as it can go, and for fewer gathers, keep your stitch length at the regular sewing length.

In the workshop at the Sewing Show, Debra didn’t discuss it, but apparently you can also replace your bobbin thread with elastic thread and do stretchy shirring (like you see on little girl’s summer dresses frequently). There’s a Vimeo video here where you can see this demonstrated.  http://vimeo.com/47627864

Darning Foot

The Darning Foot is also known as a Stippling Foot, Free-motion Foot or a Quilting Foot (for free motion quilting). The transparent foot makes it easy to see where you’re going and where you’ve been, while it still keeps just enough pressure on the fabric when you drop the feed dogs. The spring on the foot works with the needle – when the needle goes down, so does the foot.

To darn or mend with the foot:

  1. Prepare your fabric – with some fabrics this might mean putting them in a hoop and/or backing the fabric with a stabilizer.
  2. Trim the stray fibers from the tear in the fabric
  3. Drop your feed dogs on your machine and install the foot along with thread that matches your fabric as closely as possible.
  4. Use your machine to outline the rip or tear.
  5. Using free-motion stitching go over the rip or tear, catching the outline to support the stitching (otherwise you’re just stitching into the fraying threads). You can follow the fabric pattern a bit while doing this.

Button Foot

The Button Foot is for machine sewing hole (non-shank) buttons onto your garment.

  1. Lower your feed dogs – you don’t want your fabric advancing with each step.
  2. Set your fabric into your machine, put the button down where you want it, (I find using a little piece of tape to hold the button in place works well) and lower the foot down onto the button.
  3. Set your machine to a zig-zag stitch, and slowly use the hand-wheel to lower the needle down into the first hole, then wheel it forward to the neighbouring hole. If you need to adjust the width of your zig zag to make it happen continue checking the fit, then you can make a few stitches with the machine.
  4. Leave long thread tails to wrap around the thread ‘shank’ and tie off.

If you want a real thread shank, put a long, thin, smooth object over the button so the threads go back and forth over the object (usually sewing books recommend a match stick – but who has wooden matches anymore? I usually use half a q-tip (halved so one end I can pull out from under the stitches) which I also use to clean my machine.

Top Stitch Foot

  • The Top Stitch Foot has an adjustable guide, so you can match up the guide with the edge of a hem. Once you’ve adjusted the depth of the guide (by turning the wheel on the right hand side which moves the white guide left or right) in relation to the needle, you can stitch a consistent line of sewing in relation to the fold of the hem.
  • You can also do even pin-tucks without needing a twin needle with this foot – again fold the fabric, adjust the guide, and sew down the folded fabric – opening it up for a pintuck!
  • This can also be used as an adjustable Blind Hem Foot. (I have a non-adjustable Blind Hem Foot as well already in my foot-stash.) The folded edge of the fabric butts up against the guide, giving a perfect and consistent stitch depth into the fabric.
    Blind hems done on the machine aren’t as invisible as those done by hand, but are much, much quicker, and if your hand-stitching is rusty, more consistent. While they might not be suitable for fine sewing, I think they’re just perfect for the hems of wide-leg trousers, casual dresses, or loose skirts.
    You start by serging, pinking, or overcasting the raw edge, then turn up the hem and press it. Then fold it back on itself as if you were making a tuck. Select the blind hem stitch on your machine (it looks like ___/\___/\___/\___) and butt the folded fabric up against the guide on the foot. The ‘mountain’ catches the garment fabric, while the straight stitch travels along the flange of fabric where your raw edge was (before finishing it). Then on the right side of the fabric there will be just the tiniest nip. Re-press the hem, and you’re done!
  • This foot is also great for stitching in the ditch – by lining up the guide in the ‘ditch’ and following the ditch with the guide.  I tried using my non-adjustable blind hem foot this way, but the spacing was wrong – I might just need to adjust my needle placement to make it work – that’s what Debra Justice suggested at the sewing show.
  • Finally, this foot can be used for joining two edges, for instance doing lace-insertion. You set the guide to the center, and butt one fabric edge (likely a folded edge of fabric) up against one side of the guide, and then butt the other fabric (or lace, or ribbon, etc) up against the other side of the guide. With the adjustable version of the foot you can use a narrower stitch than if you use the non-adjustable version apparently. A specialty foot for this technique is called an Edge Joining Foot or a Centre Blade Foot (or Edge-Joining Foot / Center Blade Foot for the search engines… 😉 )

Flower Foot

As I mentioned, I also bought a Flower Foot, which attaches to the presser bar and needle clamp to make circles, flowers, and eyelets without using a hoop or special embroidery stitches. (Though you can use specialty stitches.) It has a foam ring on the bottom of the foot which grips the fabric and a rotating circle to create designs up to 7/8″ in diameter.

Invisible Zipper Foot

I also bought an invisible zipper foot at the show – I wasn’t sure if I already had one or not, but it was inexpensive, so I figured I might as well get it just in case.

Invisible zippers are different than regular ones, because the coil teeth “curl” inwards, so once it’s in the garment, it appears to be little more than a seam – with a tiny tab (the zipper pull) at the top.  The foot has channels under it for the teeth to pass under.  The foot uncurls them as you stitch which makes the installation of the zipper easier than a regular zipper foot.

Do you have a favourite?

What unique specialty sewing foot do you love the best? Which one do you find yourself reaching for more than others?

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