How To Lift The Foot On A Sewing Machine

How to Lift the Foot of a Sewing Machine

Most sewing machines will have an adjustable presser foot lever; this lever is used to lift the foot of the machine up and off the fabric. Proper use of the lever can help to make sewing simpler and easier, more comfortable and is a key component when it comes to successful sewing results. It is important to understand how to lift the foot of a sewing machine in order to ensure that your project turns out exactly how you want it.
The presser foot lever is most commonly found on the right side of the sewing machine. It will be in either a horizontal or vertical orientation depending on what type of machine you are using. When the lever is in the vertical position, you will be able to move the presser foot up and down in order to lower or raise it from the material. When the lever is in the horizontal position, you will turn the lever either clockwise or counter-clockwise in order to adjust the height of the presser foot.
The first step in learning how to lift the foot of a sewing machine is to make sure that the presser foot is in the lowermost position on the fabric. This will ensure that the foot is as close to the fabric as possible, giving you the best chance of accurate stitching. Then, you will use the lever to lift the foot off the fabric.
It is important to always use the presser foot lever in order to lift and lower the sewing machine’s foot, as opposed to manually lifting or lowering the foot with your hands. This is primarily for safety reasons, as the lever is designed to release the pressure from the presser foot and the needle should never be tampered with. Additionally, when the lever is used correctly, it can make sewing much easier and smoother than it would be if you were to lift and lower the foot manually.

How to Sew With a Lifted Foot

Once the foot is lifted, it will be possible to move the material freely without the risk of it becoming stuck to the foot. This is especially helpful when working with heavier materials, cording, and lace, as it ensures that the fabric will not bunch up and create unattractive results. In addition, a lifted foot can provide you with the opportunity to pull the material over a seam or trim as you sew and to sew in reverse, both of which can result in smoother stitches.
When sewing with the foot lifted, you will want to make sure that your machine is in the proper stitch formation for the project that you are working on. This will vary depending on the type of fabric you are working with and the type of stitch that you want to achieve. Additionally, if the material is particularly thick or has a pile, it may be necessary to lift the foot and adjust the tension dial or hand wheel in order to ensure that the stitches form properly.
It is also important to make sure that the presser foot is compatible with the fabric that you are using. Most sewing machines will come with several different presser feet that are designed to work with a variety of fabrics. Paying attention to which foot is being used can make a huge difference in terms of the outcome of your project.

How to Lower the Foot on a Sewing Machine

When you have finished sewing with the foot in the lifted position, you will then need to lower it in order to begin stitching again. The key is not to rush the process, as this can cause the needle to become jammed. Before lowering the foot, make sure to check the fabric below it and make sure that it is not bunched up; this will help to ensure that the fabric does not become stuck or twisted in the foot.
Once everything is in order, you can use the lever to lower the foot onto the fabric. When using the lever, it is important to be gentle and to avoid using too much pressure as this can put undue stress on the needle and the foot. If the lever does not move as expected, be sure to double-check that the stitch settings are correct and that the presser foot is compatible with the fabric being used.

Maintaining the Foot Lever

To ensure that the presser foot lever is working correctly and that it does not become stuck or broken, frequent maintenance is a must. Be sure to check the level of lubrication on the lever and make sure that it is clean of dust and debris. Additionally, the lever should be adjusted periodically, as spring-tensions can become out of alignment over time due to frequent use.
Finally, replace the lever if it is not working properly despite being cleaned and lubricated. Having a functioning presser foot lever is key to achieving successful sewing results, so it is important to take your time when it comes to caring for it.

Sewing Projects With a Lifted Foot

The presser foot lever comes in especially useful when working on several different types of projects. For example, when sewing with lace or elastic, the foot can be lifted to allow for stretching the material over the seam as you stitch. This technique can also be used when working with heavy fabrics or when sewing grommets or other embellishments, as the extra space will help to make sure that your decorative elements are positioned correctly.

Threading the Needle With a Lifted Foot

In some cases, it is necessary to leave the needle threaded when lifting the presser foot. This is most often done when it is necessary to use more than one thread when stitching, such as when creating embroidered patterns or creating multiple seams on a project.
To thread the needle correctly with a lifted foot, begin by lifting the foot up and off the fabric. Then, pull the feed dogs down to the lowest position and take a length of thread that is at least twice as long as the length of the needle. Place the thread through the needle’s eye and then wind the thread up the length of the needle once again. After this is complete, you can lower the presser foot and begin stitching with both of the threads.

Sewing With Multiple Presser Feet

The presser foot of a sewing machine can be adjusted or replaced in order to achieve specific results. Different feet are used for zigzag, rolled hems, blind hemming and more. Some machines will allow for the feet to be quickly and easily changed, while others may require a set screw in order to make the switch.
When using multiple presser feet on a project, it is important to remember to always use the presser foot lever to raise and lower the foot. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the machine is set to the correct stitch type and tension in order to ensure proper results. Lastly, make sure to pay attention to the type of fabric you are working with in order to choose the correct presser foot.

Sewing Machines With Special Features

Some sewing machines will come with a special feature that allows you to raise, lower, and adjust the foot of the machine in order to achieve optimal results. Often times, this feature can be found on the touchscreen of the machine and will allow you to move the foot up and down, adjust the tension and more.
Having a machine that offers this feature is especially beneficial, as it can make the whole process of sewing much easier and faster. Additionally, many of these machines allow you to save your settings and stitch types, so once you find a setting that works well for a certain type of fabric, it can be reused in the future.

Additional Sewing Safety Tips

When walking away from the sewing machine, it is important to make sure that the presser foot is in the lowest position, where it can be safest. Additionally, make sure that the needle is unthreaded and the machine is powered off so that there is no risk of it starting up again unexpectedly.
Finally, when learning how to lift the foot of a sewing machine, always wear the appropriate protective gear. Closed-toe shoes, gloves, and a dust mask are all essential to keeping yourself safe from potential hazards.


Knowing how to lift the foot of a sewing machine is an essential skill for any sewist. From relearning how to thread a needle to achieving successful results on challenging projects, having a well-functioning presser foot lever is key to success. Taking care of the presser foot lever on a regular basis can help to ensure that it is ready to use when you need it, while familiarizing yourself with the special features of your machine can help you to get the best results each time. With proper use, the lever can make sewing far simpler and more pleasurable.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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