Sewing Machine Feet | Patchwork Piecing

Sewing machine feet…there are a lot. Some have really specific tasks whilst others can be used for quite a few different things. Even the most basic sewing machine will most likely come with a handful of feet but how important are they all? This week we’re going to take a closer look at sewing machine feet for patchwork piecing. I’ll tell you about the four I have, what tasks they could be used for, and why I like or don’t like them. Spoiler alert…in my opinion, none of them are perfect! So if you’ve been struggling with the foot you’re currently using for piecing tasks then it could be that you either need a new foot or you need to make sure you are changing your foot for different parts of the piecing process.

I’m a big advocate for not buying too much stuff when it comes to patchwork piecing and quilting, especially if you are just starting out. But sometimes a few extra bits can be really useful and can take your sewing from great to amazing. Check out my run down of four styles of machine foot that could be used for patchwork piecing. And before you rush out and buy a new one for yourself, make sure you check that little bag of bits that came with your sewing machine…you might find a few of these feet in there!

Standard foot

This is your basic sewing machine foot, the style that comes with every machine. It works fine for patchwork piecing but it doesn’t have any features that help. If you are only using this style of foot, I would recommend marking it in some way to show a 1/4″ guide; sticking on small pieces of washi tape is a great, non-permanent way to do this.

Open toe foot

As the name suggests, this foot has a large open area in the centre of the foot. This is great for any patchwork task where you need a good view of what you are sewing. I like to use an open toe foot when I need to sew along a marked line. For example, when making half square triangles, flying geese, corner square triangles etc. As this foot has inner straight edges, you could also use these for sewing 1/4″ seams. Simply move the needle position to the left and use the right-hand inner edges as your 1/4″ guide.

Quarter inch foot

A foot known as simply “quarter inch foot” will have a vertical metal flange towards the edge of the foot. If you adjust your needle position to 1/4″ and then put your fabric edge up against the flange whilst sewing, you’ll get a 1/4″ seam allowance. This should be the perfect foot for patchwork piecing. Although it is an easy guide to see and it provides a useful physical barrier too, I don’t find these feet very accurate. I’ve had several versions of this style of foot and always find that the metal flange splays a little bit to the right. Even with a needle position adjustment I’ve never been able to get a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance with this style of foot.

Clear view 1/4″ foot

This foot has lots of red line markings including 1/4″ and 1/8″. Although there is no physical guide (like the flange feet) the red lines stand out well and the clear foot means it is easy to see your fabric edge or marked guide lines for things like half square triangles. My version of this foot actually came with a removable metal flange guide too but I have removed it.

As you can see, none of these patchwork piecing feet are perfect. For the first three feet (standard, open toe and quarter inch) you’ll notice from the photos that I have shown two examples. That’s because the sewing machine I have (Janome Atelier 7 / Skyline 7) comes with a special type of walking foot that has interchangeable feet. The larger feet you can see in the photos clip onto my walking foot. I absolutely love using a walking foot as often as I can for patchwork piecing and quilting so will often choose one of these feet, even if it’s not the ideal option, to make use of the walking foot aspect.

So which of these four feet do I use most often when I am patchwork piecing? It would be the walking foot open toe foot and the clear view 1/4″ foot. I use the open toe foot as much as possible as I love the walking foot feature but it’s not ideal for an accurate seam allowance, and that’s when I swap to the clear view 1/4″ foot.

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