Presser Foot Problems: 4 Typical Issues (Solved)

The presser foot holds your material in place as you feed it through the sewing machine.

When you are experiencing problems with your presser foot, you can run into all kinds of problems with your fabric and stitches.

Let’s take a look at some typical presser foot problems and how to solve them:

Presser Foot Won’t Lower Down All the Way

For your presser foot to work as intended, it needs to lower all the way down to apply pressure to the fabric below.

If there is a problem and it can’t reach down far enough to apply this pressure, you will find your material swimming freely under the foot as your feed it through the machine.

You will have difficulty keeping your stitches in a straight line when this happens. You might also find it hard to keep the top and bottom layers of fabric lined up and where they should be as you sew.

Luckily, you can easily fix this problem, so your presser foot lowers down correctly once again. To do this, first lower your presser foot tension. Then, you will need to locate the screw that corresponds to the presser bar.

This is often on the left side of your machine, but its exact location will depend on the machine’s make and model.

There will likely be two screws, one for the needle bar and one for the presser bar. You will want to leave the needle bar screw alone, so check your instruction manual to understand which is which.

Once you locate the correct screw, you can use a screwdriver to release the presser foot. Once it drops down, turn your handwheel, so the needle is lowered down.

When it is all in place, you can apply an appropriate presser foot tension setting and then turn the screw again to secure the presser foot in its new position.

For a full tutorial on how to adjust your presser foot when it won’t lower down all the way, you can check out this YouTube video:

Using Incorrect Presser Foot Tension

If your presser foot tension setting is too high, it can cause your stitches to become bunchy and uneven. When it’s too low, it can cause your stitches to maneuver from side to side and leave you with a messy finished product.

Presser foot tension is controlled by a dial, knob, or screw, depending on the make and model of your sewing machine. You can always check your instruction manual if you’re not sure where to find it or what it looks like.

This control mechanism dictates how much pressure the presser foot is applying to your fabric. The higher the setting, the tighter it will press down on the fabric.

The lower the setting, the less pressure it will use to press down on your fabric to hold it in place.

You can tell your presser setting is too low if you can move your fabric freely underneath the presser foot when it is lowered all the way down. On the other end of the spectrum, too high of a setting will leave your fabric completely locked in place under the foot.

When the setting is this high, you won’t be able to shift it or make any adjustments. This can block the movement of the feed dogs, leaving you with fabric that bunches up around your stitches.

Luckily, correcting your presser foot tension is as easy as turning a dial or knob. If you have a dial with numbers to indicate the setting, you can try turning the dial to one of the middle numbers.

This should give you a balanced tension setting to which you can make small adjustments as needed.

Generally, lightweight fabrics require a lower tension while heavier fabrics require a higher tension. You can always use scraps of your desired material to test out tension settings and find the one that gives you the most even, smooth stitches.

The exact, ideal tension settings will depend on you, your machine, and your preferred sewing projects. The more you get used to using your machine with your preferred materials, the more you can predict what tension settings will work best for you.

To help you better understand how to adjust your presser foot tension settings, you can check out this informational video on YouTube:

Using the Wrong Presser Foot

There are countless styles of presser feet on the market.

Each is designed to combat a different problem that can occur with different types of stitches or fabric.

Knowing what foot to use depending on your sewing project is important to have a smooth sewing experience. If you try to use the wrong type of foot for your desired stitch or fabric, you can easily run into messy problems with your fabric or stitches.

When you purchase a sewing machine, you might find several different presser feet inside the packaging. Alternatively, you might just find the standard foot with one or two other options.

Lower-end machines often don’t come with as many presser foot options when compared to more expensive machines. It will be up to you to purchase additional specialty options.

Before purchasing, double-check to make sure they are compatible with the machine in question.

You will also need to make sure you are using presser feet compatible with your machine. This is easy to do if your machine comes with several options since they will all be fitted for your exact machine and you won’t have any problem switching between them.

To help get you started using the right presser foot for the right occasion, let’s take a look at some of the most popular presser foot options. We will see what problems these feet are designed to tackle, making your life much easier.

Walking Foot

For those working with lightweight and specialty fabrics, the walking foot can eliminate problems caused by using a standard foot.

These can be a little expensive if you need to purchase one separately from your sewing machine. Despite their price, they are still a favorite for many sewing machine users.

What makes the walking foot so special is that it has a pair of feed dogs built into the design of the presser foot. These top feed dogs work in combination with the feed dogs of your sewing machine.

This double feed dog combination makes it so easy and smooth to feed the material through your machine.

This is essential if you have slippery or stretchy fabric, like silk or knits. Using a standard foot with this type of specialty material can lead to slippage and sewing your fabric in place as it slips out of alignment.

You can use your walking foot to keep the top and bottom layer of fabric held together perfectly while sewing.

Seam Guide Foot

If you are looking to create seam allowances with exact and consistent measurements, a seam guide foot is an excellent option.

A standard presser foot might not give you the control you are looking for as you go around bends and curves in your pattern.

These feet are often made of clear plastic to see exactly where your fabric is beneath the foot. It also has several clear markings to the right of the needle hole that show different measurements.

There will be notches or lines for ⅛, ¼, ⅜, ½, or ⅝ of an inch.

You can use these measurements to create a seam allowance with an exact measurement. All you have to do is line up the edge of your fabric with the corresponding measurement mark and feed it through the machine evenly.

This type of foot can be especially helpful for keeping your desired seam allowance when going around curves and corners.

Problems with Changing The Foot

Now that you know more about what presser feet to use for different tasks, you must change them correctly to experience their benefits.

The struggle to remove or install a presser foot could lead to unexpected complications.

If your presser foot is attached to the shaft, you can usually find a lever located on the upper back of the shaft. Simply lift this lever, and you will release the shaft and foot.

When reinstalling a new foot, make sure it is pushed up as far as possible and lower the lever back into place.

Some other machines have presser feet that are not attached to the shaft or any other part. These feet are removed with a simple pull and are snapped back into place just as easily.

Just make sure you are replacing the foot with one that is compatible with the make and model of your machine, and you should be all set.

For more information on changing pressure feet, you will want to consult your instruction manual. This will give you specific information on what you need to do to release your existing foot and replace it with another.

Once your new foot is installed, make sure you check its positioning and tension. Remember, you want to move your material enough to make adjustments under a lowered foot but not so much that it moves freely.

Final Thoughts

Your presser foot is vital for your sewing machine’s operating system.

It needs to lower down all the way with the right amount of tension to hold your fabric in place correctly.

You will also need to use the right kind of foot with proper installation for the best results when sewing.


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