When sewing, it is important to know which presser foot to use with the different types of fabric, and sewing machine stitches, available on the market today. Most sewing machines on the market come with several different sewing machine presser feet.
If you are sewing straight seams, a regular, standard presser foot will be used. Many sewing machine manufacturers have specific names, letters, or numbers for these standard presser feet. For example, on my sewing machine, the regular presser foot is labeled "Foot A". This particular presser foot also works when sewing the zig zag stitch as well because there is a space on the presser foot itself that allows the needle to move from side to side when sewing the zig zag stitch.
Garments usually often require a zipper, and these are usually sewn in with a zipper foot. There may be a couple of types of zipper feet. The zipper foot for my machine is wide, but narrows at one end, and on either side of this narrow part, there is a space for the needle. This type of zipper foot allows you to sew down one side of the zipper, and then the other.
Another type of zipper foot that is available, and may be more common on older sewing machines, is a narrower presser foot. One side of the presser foot may be slightly longer than the other, with the space in the middle designed for the needle. Sometimes I think that this type of zipper foot might make it easier to sew in a zipper because you could possibly get closer to the zipper teeth when sewing it into a garment.
Buttons are also often found on garments, and there are buttonhole presser foot that make this job much easier. There is a four step buttonhole presser foot. With this type of buttonhole foot, you must measure the size of the button, mark the size of the buttonhole on the garment, and then using the four step buttonhole, sew the sides of the buttonhole and the bar tacks on the end. It's a little bit trickier to sew with this type of buttonhole presser foot, and it takes practice.
There is also an automatic buttonhole presser foot on the market, and this is the one that I like the best. Buttons do not have to be measured because the buttonhole foot has a space to insert the button, which is secured by closing that end of the buttonhole foot around the button, and then either snap or screw the buttonhole foot on to the sewing machine. Many sewing machines today have automatic buttonhole stitches on them, and once you have the button in place on the presser foot, it's a matter of lowering the lever on the sewing machine, and then sewing the buttonhole, which will be sized perfectly every time.
Sometimes a commercial sewing pattern will instruct you to either top stitch or edge stitch a garment. The edge stitch presser foot makes it very easy to get a professional look on patch pockets and the edges of garments. This presser foot has a little black "skate" on the bottom that allows you to place the edge of the fabric next to that little "skate" and sew very close to the edge of the seam. (The part that is extended on this presser foot resembles the blade of an ice skate, which is why I have referred to it as a "skate".) I find this edge stitch foot especially helpful when sewing patch pockets on to a garment because it sews very close to the edge of the pocket and creates a professional finish. The edge stitch foot is also often used on collars, fronts of blouses or dresses, and the edges of sleeve cuffs.
For those who do not own sergers, there is also a double over edge stitch presser foot. It resembles the edge stitch foot, except that this foot has some wires near the top of it. I think that these little wires help the needle to create a stitch that looks very much like a serged stitch. Before I bought a serger, I used this presser foot to finish the raw edges of my sewing projects. The only difference between this stitch and a serged stitch is that the double over edge stitch doesn't trim the seam like a serger does.
Although many seamstresses struggle with this next type of presser foot, some may like it. This is the rolled hem foot. There is a little curved area where the fabric is inserted, allowing it to roll evenly, enclosing the raw edge of the fabric, which allows for an even rolled hem.
Many sewing machines also have an open toed presser foot. These presser feet are often clear and wider than the regular presser foot. Today's sewing machines often have built in decorative stitches, and these open toed presser feet allow you to see what you are stitching, as well as giving more freedom for the sewing machine needle to stitch the design.
If you are fortunate enough to own a combination sewing/embroidery machine, you may also have a darning foot. This foot is usually long, and clear, with the end being a small circle. The darning foot is typically used for machine embroidery, and usually skims the top of the fabric as the machine is sewing an embroidery design.
Quilting is a very popular hobby and because seam allowances in quilts are usually 1/4 inch seams, many sewing machines also have a 1/4 inch presser foot. This foot looks very similar to the edge stitch foot because the 1/4 inch presser foot also has the little "skate" on the bottom. When the fabric is placed against the little skate on this presser foot, the seamstress is assured that she will be sewing an accurate 1/4 inch seam.
The walking, or even feed, presser foot is also an important sewing machine foot, especially for quilters. When sewing a regular 5/8 inch seam allowance, the fabric is fed through the machine at slightly different rates, which is why you will sometimes wind up with one end of a seam slightly longer or shorter than the other. A walking foot prevents this problem because it allows the fabric to be fed through the sewing machine evenly, by sort of "walking" along the fabric as the seam is being sewn. This presser foot has a little bar that rides on the little bar where the needle is inserted into the sewing machine. The walking foot is also wider, and bulkier than other sewing machine presser foot. The part of this foot that rides on the fabric looks like long "teeth" which are similar to the feed dogs on the sewing machine. In fact, when watching the action of the walking foot while sewing, you will discover that it is also similar to the action of the feed dogs as they pull the fabric through the sewing machine. This action is especially helpful to quilters as they machine quilt their creations.
Although this is quite a long list of sewing machine presser feet, this is not a complete list by any means. There is such a variety of sewing machine stitches on sewing machines today that there are many presser feet that will make the job easier, and will help create a professional looking finish on the sewing project.
We sewing enthusiasts are fortunate to be living in an age when sewing is easier because of all the advances in technology.