The All-Purpose Foot

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NOTE: Scroll to the bottom of this page for a link to all of the Sewing Machine Feet posts.

This post is the first in a series about sewing machine feet.

Throughout this series, I will be demonstrating with Bernina feet. However, all manufacturers make similar feet. Visit a local sewing store and ask them to show you the feet that would be appropriate for your machine.

The All-Purpose Foot

While Bernina calls this an all-purpose foot, many manufacturers will refer to it as a standard foot, universal foot, or a zigzag foot. No matter the name, this foot should have a few common features.

The All Purpose Foot

As the name indicates, this sewing machine foot is designed for almost all purposes. When you purchase a sewing machine (either new or used) it will come with an All-Purpose Foot.

The All Purpose Foot

No matter what your machine’s manufacturer calls this foot, it is basic in every way.

It should have a slot or opening of some sort that allows you to pull your threads to the back of the machine. This keeps threads from creating a bird’s nest when you start sewing.

Details About the All Purpose Foot

The All-Purpose Foot should have an opening wide enough for you to do zigzag sewing as well as other decorative stitching.

Most All Purpose feet will have some sort of markings that helps you sew straight. On this foot, there is a center guide marked in the center of the foot. This will help create nice straight stitches.

The All Purpose Foot

Fabric should easily fit beneath this foot and allow you to make needle position adjustments or stitch width adjustments. In the photo below, notice how the foot is wide enough to hold the fabric in place while my needle is positioned near the edge of the fold.

This allows me to control needle placement. The center mark helps keep my stitching straight.

The All Purpose Foot

Perfect for Decorative Stitching

The beauty of an all purpose/standard foot is how well it works with decorative stitching. The 5mm opening on this foot allows for ease of stitching when using many of the utility and decorative stitches that are built into a machine.

Using a rayon or polyester (embroidery) thread will only add to your ability to create.

Presser Feet

Take a minute and get creative with your Sewing Machine Feet.

—> Click this link to learn about other sewing machine feet!

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  1. From ages 14 through 30, I sewed on an old VERY basic machine that no additional feet- and I never ventured even as far as a zigzag stitch. From ages 30 – 58, I didn’t sew at all.

    I just purchased a new (but very inexpensive) machine that came with half a dozen feet – which completely overwhelmed me. But I did my first zigzag on a receiving blanket for my new grandbaby last month – and I was as excited as a kid at a rocket show. Still, I thought I’d never venture beyond that basic foot.

    This series is going to be perfect for me. I’m very excited – and appreciate so much your sharing your expertise! Thank you!

    1. You will be amazed at what you can do with feet. The right foot can take something from ordinary to extraordinary.

  2. I am so happy for this series on feet. Out of sight, out of mind, is so true with me. I need a refresher course once a year.
    Just found you a couple of weeks ago. I love your blog. I’m so happy to find someone closer to my age that gives an interesting plethora of information on all kinds of subjects that I love and do…….quilting, sewing, cooking, knitting, crocheting, etc. Loved the church story about the girls talking, been there done that, huh.
    Keep it coming please.

  3. New to the seasoned homemaker and know that I’m going to love your blog and all the useful info you provide. Thanks.

  4. This is my first time visiting your site – your series caught my eye because although I’ve been sewing since I was in Jr. High school, I’ve never used anything but the all-purpose foot! And Niue I have a new machine with lots of feet that I don’t know what to do with. So, I’m really excited. I’m a new follower. Thanks – I’m looking forward to learning from you.

    1. More posts on feet upcoming ~ but moving has really gotten in my way. I hope to put up one post a week all summer….we’ll see.

  5. We just loved your post and your blog and we’re so glad to have you join us at our One Sharendipity Place Link-up Party this past weekend!! It has been so much fun finding your site and others like yours out there!! We hope you’ll join us again this weekend!!
    Thanks again & God bless,
    Sue @ thet2women.com

  6. Did a lot of sewing years ag.( I have 4 daughter and 2 sons. I made most of the girls clothes until HS. ). Then a made a few clothes for grandchildren . Now my machine has been covered for the last 10 years except for occasional mending. I forgot much of what I knew and I never used many of the feet that came with the machine. This will be very helpful to me.

  7. Came across your blog thru Pinterest (yay)! I am very excited to read all your blogs on sewing machine feet. After taking a 32 year break from sewing, I am back and loving it! I’ve signed on to receive future posts – thx!

  8. I see you have a Bernina too;) I purchased a Bernina as a retirement gift for myself. I use the basic foot, the 1/4″ foot, the zipper foot, the walking foot and the BSR. I have more and yearn to use them but I get so caught up in quilting, I don’t spend the time doing all of the fun things my machine and feet will do. I need to explore a little more don’t I! Thank you for sharing this and providing inspiration for me to get out of my ‘rut’.

  9. I have a Bernina (with 20 feet!) that shares my laundry room…it is easily the perfect setup for me. However, I have gotten away from sewing now that my boys are older. I’ve just decided to make new dining room drapes. Your series is inspiring me to try some decorative edging and to rediscover what all these magical feet can do! Thank you!

  10. I love your clear explanations Leslie and also that we both have Berninas, so the feet, etc., are the same. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve fixed all of the broken links. This occasionally occurs when there is an update to the blog. I always appreciate when readers let me know about broken links. Thanks!

  11. This surely is the most exciting blog I have ever followed!! It is amazingly informative. Now at long last I know what all these feet (Bernina) that I have paid for so dearly, are meant to be used for! Over a period of time I bought many feet to make me a more succsefull and creative sewer. I, however never took the time to learn how to use it, some are still in their original packins! Now I am blessed to have both time and inspiration as well as your wonderfull lessons. I’d like to receive more of your future blogs.
    Thank you.
    Tina (Stellenbosch, South Africa)

    1. Thank you, Tina, for your kind words. I’m so glad you are able to connect. Did you know we have a Facebook group called Simple Sewing with the Seasoned Homemaker. Women like yourself sharing their sewing projects. You would fit in nicely and be very welcome.

  12. Just got a new Brother sewing machine, few months back. I’m so excited to have found ~The Seasoned Homemaker~ and now I’m getting ready to start the Christmas table runner. I’ve started reading your blog and am amazed about all the information, you have really inspired me to get more involved with my machine and not just for repairs. Thank-you and keep our needles sharp.

  13. Hello! Thanks for your site – its very informative.

    I just got a sewing machine and i m learning how to use it. As I was setting up my machine, the “presser foot” broke off and I cant reattach it. This piece seems important, but is it necessary, can I still use the machine ok without it??


  14. this buttonhole information will be printed and put in my file along with other Leslie wonders. thank you very much this will take me a while as my computer is old and on its last leg.and I have many different machines.for which I need the manual for the last machine I purchased,sears $5.00 in a beautiful cabinet.I can’t stand seeing the beauties thrown away.

  15. Hello Leslie, Thank you for this extremely clear explanation about sewing feet. I am 75 years young and have been machine sewing since I was 10. I made our three daughters clothes, even, which in those days were very short dresses with same material knickers when they were toddlers until it wasn’t done to wear home-made clothes but by that time they were almost ready to pay for their own clothes. My Bernina machine is 40 years old and for the last many years I always promised myself a new machine but never got there. Now I am slightly forgetful and had forgotten that I actually can use the other feet provided with the machine so you have jogged my memory (after a stroke) to open the container and use the feet for their purpose instead of using the all-purpose foot all the time. I am now teaching our two grandsons, 11 & 13 years, to sew as the school has stopped teaching machine sewing which it did when I went to school and they are enjoying it. Though, lucky them they did not have to go through one whole lesson on sewing on paper. Keep up the good explanations as it must help thousands. Thanks a lot from New Zealand.

  16. Thanks for this series! I haven’t used my sewing machine a lot & just got introduced to the deeply mysterious world of the machine foot. Looks like some will be very useful indeed!

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