Sewing machines come with all sorts of bells and whistles these days - features that make the sewing process easier and more fun. They are equipped to do loads of decorative and utilitarian stitches besides the usual straight and zig-zag stitches. For example, I use the blanket stitch for appliqué and the serpentine stitch stitch for joining pieces of batting. And I use the decorative stitches to add pizazz to my quilt labels. They also have features such as needle up/down and the presser foot knee lift - both of which make turning corners much quicker and easier. My long arm machine tells me when my bobbin is getting low which is so helpful when I don’t have a spot in the middle of the quilt where the stop/start would be hidden.
Another feature that has been added are the variety of feet that are available. I first discovered the joy of having a specific foot for use on a certain technique when I got my Bernina 440 several years ago. This machine came with eight feet - many more than my previous machine. My recently purchased Bernina 350 came with seven feet. And there are even more available to purchase separately. My long arm machine came with two feet - a closed hopping foot and an open hopping foot.
There are five feet that I use regularly on my machines and I would consider all of these “deal breakers” when looking to purchase a new machine. The first is my Bernina #1 foot. This is the standard foot that comes with most machines and I use it when I am doing decorative stitches, the serpentine stitch, or making a seam allowance greater than 1/4”.
The second favorite foot is my Bernina #57 - the 1/4” foot. This one is a necessity if you are making quilts as all seam allowances are 1/4”. My first Bernina - the 440 - did not come with this foot so I needed to purchase it separately. It was well worth the investment as I was using tape to mark the 1/4” seam on my previous machine. The #57 foot has a small guide on the right side of the foot that measures 1/4” from the needle. My new Bernina - the 350 - came with a 1/4” foot and has a slightly different design. This one is a narrow foot without the guide.
My third favorite foot is the Bernina #50 - the walking foot (also referred to as an even-feed foot). As with the #57 I needed to purchase this foot step with my Bernina 440 but it came standard with my 350. I use this foot when I am adding binding to my quilts because the foot has grippers on it that work in tandem with the grippers on the bed of the machine. As a result the quilt and the binding feed evenly through the machine - really important when you are dealing with four layers. I have also used it for straight-line quilting. This wider foot makes a nice width between the lines of stitches.
My fourth favorite foot is the Bernina #20 - an open embroidery foot. I always use this foot when I do a blanket stitch around appliqués because I can easily see where I am going. This foot came with both of my machines but I prefer to use my first #20 as it is a shorter foot and works better on small appliqués. Luckily it is interchangeable between my machines - the main reason that I purchased another Bernina when it came time for a new machine.
The final foot on my favorites list is the Handi-Quilter Glide Foot. This foot works well on quilts that have appliqué or embroidery stitches because of the cup design. With the regular hopping foot I would be fearful that it could get caught on those elements which would cause all sorts of horrible issues. This foot also had to be purchased separately.
What feet are on your favorites list? Have you experimented with all of the feet that came with your machine to see which of them could make your sewing experience more efficient and enjoyable? Or are there feet available for your machine that would be worth the investment to purchase? Be sure to check it out - you never know what you might be missing!