Quilting Basics - Presser Feet

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Happy Tuesday, readers! Welcome back for another week of the Quilter’s Mart Quilting Basics series!

Last week we covered cutting implements, and this week we’re going to talk about presser feet. There are so many feet out there (just look at this multi-pack Quilter’s Mart sells, and prepare for your mind to blow!). When you’re new to quilting, it can be hard to know what you really need.

Every single type of presser foot is useful in its own way. But how many really apply to quilting vs. other varieties of sewing? Well, my friends, it is my sincerest hope that I will be able to simplify things for you today!

In my humble opinion, there is one must-have and three nice-to-haves:

Must-Have
  1. Quarter-inch foot
Nice-to-haves
  1. Quarter-inch foot with a guide
  2. Walking foot
  3. Free-motion presser foot

A quarter-inch foot looks like this:

 

Because quarter-inch seam allowances are the standard for piecing, you will find this foot very useful. To use it properly, you simply line your fabric edges up against the right-hand edge of the foot, and voila! The stitches end up exactly ¼ inch from the edge of your pieces. It’s foolproof!

...unless…

This brings me to the quarter-inch foot with a guide. It looks like this:

Especially in my early days of quilting, I found this foot to be absolutely essential, because for me, the regular quarter-inch foot actually wasn’t foolproof. I even considered calling the quarter-inch foot with a guide a “must-have”, because it was just that helpful for me.

If you’re free-spirited and a bit carefree, you may also benefit from having this foot in your supply kit. Why? Well, in short: the black guide along the right-hand side keeps you from wandering, and therefore keeps your seam allowances much more consistent. And consistency in your seam allowances means that all the piecing math will add up and your entire quilt top will come together better!

The other two feet on the nice-to-haves list are for the quilting step. Depending on your approach to quilting, these could also make it onto your personal must-haves list.

A walking foot looks like this:

These are helpful because they pull your fabric along from the top, just like the feed-dogs on your machine do on the bottom. A walking foot isn’t really necessary for piecing, because you’re not really working with anything super thick (although some new, fancy sewing machines come with built-in walking feet so you can use this foot all the time anyway!).

However, when you’ve got backing, batting, and a pieced quilt-top, those feed-dogs are pulling the bottom layer along, but the batting and the top have no help, so they can lag behind and (gasp! The horror!) you can end up with everything coming out of alignment!

If you plan to do basic quilting on your machine, you’ll definitely want one of these feet. They’re also handy for machine-stitching binding!

A free-motion foot looks like this:

These are, of course, intended for free-motion quilting. If you never plan to do that method, you will never need one. But if this is your go-to method, you can’t live without one!

Essentially, the way these work is that they hover above your project instead of pushing down on the fabric (and your feed-dogs should be down/deactivated too!), and then you are free to move about in every direction (hence the name “free-motion”), creating beautiful stitched patterns.

So there you have it, quilters! Experienced quilters - any other feet I missed, or things I forgot to say about the feet listed above?

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  • Carolyn Knees
Comments 6
  • beth d.
    beth d.

    I use the quarter inch foot with a guide for my piecing too. It really does work to keep my stitching even and straight on line.

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte

    Thank u

  • Patricia Farrer
    Patricia Farrer

    Thank you!!

  • janis brown
    janis brown

    Thx for the advice. I try to gather all I can as my journey continues. I love that yours is short and to the point. Sincerely Janis

  • Velda Roy
    Velda Roy

    Hi. I just wanted to add my two cents worth. IMHO, a walking foot is absolutely a “must have” tool for all Quilters. We all want our quilting and binding/finishing to be as perfect as our piecing and the best way to do that is to use the right tool for the job.

  • Velda Roy
    Velda Roy

    Hi. I just wanted to add my two cents worth. IMHO, a walking foot is absolutely a “must have” tool for all Quilters. We all want our quilting and binding/finishing to be as perfect as our piecing I think and the best way to do that is to use the appropriate tool.

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