Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Presser Feet: Introduction and Narrow Edge Foot

There are many many presser feet for a machine. In my experience, I find I use a small number of feet 90% of the time, and every so often, when I have a specific task, I pull out the other feet. Most people don't know what these feet are for and don't realize how much easier they can make things, if they knew how to use them.

So, here is my tutorial series on presser feet. 

Of course, I will show presser feet for my Pfaff 2046, but most machines have something similar to these feet. Either they came with the machine or you can buy them separately.

The Narrow Edge Foot

I am starting with this foot because it's my favorite.  I don't use it all the time, but when I need it, it is invaluable.

The narrow edge foot is a basic foot with a non-sharp blade positioned in the middle. The blade guides your stitching and helps you keep it straight. See the picture on the left.

Originally, this foot was designed to join two fabrics edge-to edge, not overlapping, like attaching lace to a finished hem. I've never used it for this purpose; I just don't do many clothing projects that need this technique. The foot has a slot for the needle opening, and you can use zig-zag stitch, a decorative stitch, or even offset the needle position because of the slot.

(Make sure you have on a zig zag needle plate before you do the decorative stitches or zig zag stitch! See my post on needle plates for details.)

The Pfaff has the integrated dual feed (IDT) feature and the slot in the back of the foot (see the photo on the right) allows for the dual feed mechanism to be engaged. You can disengage the IDT and use the foot without it, too.

Precision is the reason I like this foot so much. You wouldn't think that a simple blade would make that much of a difference in the ability to sew a straight line. It really does. 

Straight Line quilting, including Stitch-in-the-Ditch

Because of the dual feed feature of my Pfaff, I don't need to use a walking foot to do quilting. If I want to quilt in stitch-in-the-ditch style, I simply engage the IDT, follow the seam lines with the blade on this foot, and my stitches are positioned perfectly in the ditch.

If I want to quilt an all over straight line design (like a grid or parallel lines), I mark the quilt top with a ruler and non-permanent fabric marking pen or pencil, and then follow the lines with the blade. Straight quilting lines!


In many projects, you need to sew a line of stitches right along a seam or folded fabric edge, offset by a few millimeters.  For example, you might need to attach a patch pocket to a shirt. Here's where this foot earns its keep. You line up the blade with the seam or fabric edge, then offset the needle position to the right or left (as needed). As you sew, run the blade along the seam, and voila! Perfectly spaced straight stitches running parallel to the seam/fabric edge!

I have also used this foot to make narrow hems by rolling the fabric and gluing it in place (with wash-away fabric glue).

I purchased this presser foot separately; it was not part of the default set of presser feet included with my machine. It was well worth it. I use it all the time. 

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