Sewing machine feet for piecing quilts

Did you know that there are sewing machine feet created just for piecing together a quilt? These feet can help you achieve quarter-inch more precise seams, which are the key to accurate quilting blocks. Today I'm breaking down all the details about four sewing machine feet used for piecing quilts together.

Sewing machine feet… there are a lot of them. Some have very specific tasks while others can be used for several different things. Even the most basic sewing machine will probably come with a handful of feet, but how important are they?


This week we are going to take a closer look at sewing machine feet for quilting assemblies. I'll tell you about the ones I have, the tasks they could be used for, and why I like or dislike them.

Spoiler alert… in my opinion, none of them are perfect! So if you're having trouble with the foot you're currently using for assembly tasks, you may need a new foot or need to make sure you switch feet for different parts of the assembly process. ‘assembly.

Brand specific sewing machine feet

Since there are many types of sewing machines and most sewing machine feet are manufacturer specific, I invited a co-author to contribute to this article. Amy Ball is a longtime collaborator and sews on a Janome machine.

In several of the photos below are images of two different feet on a gray pressing mat. One fits on a walking foot and the other on a standard machine foot.

The larger feet you can see in the photos clip onto Janome's walking foot. Amy says, “I love using a walking foot as often as possible for patchwork and quilting. I therefore often choose one of these feet, even if it is not the ideal option, to use the aspect of the walking foot. »

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I sew on a BERNINA machine. I will share information on both machines. If you own another brand of sewing machine, don't worry! Most manufacturers make similar feet for their machines. Check their websites for specific information.

The photos in this article are from both brands of machines; if the feet supplied with your machine don't look the same, don't worry!

Just a note: this is my personal preference. I do not claim to be “THE” BERNINA expert. I have over ten years of sewing experience on my machines and have done a lot of trial and error research. I'm just sharing the information I've learned over the years.

Which sewing machine feet are most useful for quilting?

I'm a big proponent of not buying too much stuff when it comes to patchwork and quilting, especially if you're just starting out. But sometimes a few extra things can go a long way and can take your sewing from awesome to amazing.

Below are four styles of machine feet that could be used for quilting. And before you rush out and buy a new one for yourself, be sure to check the little bag of accessories that came with your sewing machine… you might find a few of these feet there!

Standard sewing machine foot on Bernina machine

This is the basic foot of your sewing machine, the style that comes with every machine. It works well for patchwork stitching, but lacks any features to achieve precise stitching.

If you're only using this style of foot, I recommend marking it somehow to show a ¼″ guide; sticking on small pieces of washi tape is a great, non-permanent way to do this. If that's all you need to use for quilt assembly, you can make it work.

As the name suggests, this foot features a large open area in the center of the foot. It's ideal for any quilting task where you need a good view of what you're 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, square corner triangles, etc. As this foot has inside straight edges, you can also use them to sew ¼″ seams. Move the needle position to the left and use the inside straight edges as a ¼″ guide.

A foot known simply as a “quarter inch foot” will have a vertical metal flange towards the edge of the foot. If you adjust your needle position to ¼″ and then place the edge of your fabric against the bartack while sewing, you will get a ¼″ seam allowance.

This should be the perfect quilting foot. Although it's an easy to see guide and provides a useful physical barrier, I don't find these feet to be very accurate.

close up of sewing machine foot

I've had several versions of this style of foot and always find that the metal flange flares out a bit to the right. Even with needle position adjustment, I was never able to achieve a perfect ¼″ seam allowance with this style of foot.

fabric under the sewing machine foot

BERNINA also manufactures the 97D foot, which is its patchwork foot. The back of the foot is wider than the front, allowing it to feed the fabric more evenly.

close up of bottom of sewing machine foot

The front of the foot is ¼″ from the center line of the needle, so if you sew with the edge of the fabric aligned with the edge of the foot, you should have a ¼″ seam. But as always, better check!

I use the 97D foot for the majority of my quilting assemblies.

I have never sewn with an open sight foot; Maybe I should give it a try after reading Amy's recommendation. She explains below:

This foot has many red lines, including ¼″ and ⅛″. Although there is no physical guide (like the flanged feet), the red lines stand out nicely and the clear foot means it's easy to see the edge of your fabric or marked guidelines for things like half-square triangles. This version of this foot also came with a removable metal flange guide, but I removed it.

As you can see, none of these patchwork feet are perfect.

According to Amy, “Which of these four feet do I use most often when I'm quilting? This would be the walking foot, the open toe foot, and the ¼″ open sight foot. I use the open toe foot as much as possible because I like the walking foot feature, but it's not ideal for an accurate seam allowance, and that's when I switch to the ¼ foot ″ with a clear view”.

Personally, I sew with the BERNINA 97D Foot 99% of the time when I'm piecing a quilt. Mostly because that's what I'm used to now. I know where the ¼″ mark is and I know how the foot behaves in different scenarios. I think the most important takeaway from this article is that you need to play around with the different options on your machine a bit and then decide what works for you! The more you sew, the more precise your seams will be.

Tips for Stitching Accuracy When Quilting

Besides the feet I mentioned above, I found three quick tips to help me when assembling my quilt blocks.

Close up of sewing machine feed dogs

First: I use the straight sewing plate for my BERNINA sewing machine. It has a smaller hole that the needle can pass through while catching the bobbin thread. This smaller opening helps prevent the fabric from being pushed into the bobbin case when sewing. If you use this plate, you MUST note it in your machine settings. Otherwise, you could seriously damage your machine if you sew a wider stitch (like a zigzag) or if you move your needle to the right or left.

Second: I like to use the Diagonal Seam ribbon on my machine. The red line is my seam line and the two black lines are ¼″ marks, useful for assembly or for sewing half square triangles.

Third: Beware of sewing guides. I have used these in the past and notice that when I do this I tend to ‘smooth' my fabric down to the guide giving more seam allowance. I have found better success with the sewing tape mentioned above.

And you? Do you have a favorite assembly foot?

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