The zig zag foot is probably the most useful and versatile presser foot in your sewing machine toolbox. It is most likely the foot that stays on your machine all the time because it can be used for straight sewing and zigzag as well as a variety of decorative stitches.
Zig Zag Foot Tutorial
Zig zag may sound like a haphazard approach to sewing stitches. However, it is this characteristic sewing movement that makes the zig zag foot such a useful foot on every machine.
The zig zag foot is often known as the general or all purpose sewing foot because it can support straight sewing as well as a zig zag. No sewer wants to be without this foot. It is most likely among the standard feet included in the basic kit that comes with your sewing machine.
With its wide opening, the zig zag foot allows the needle extra movement from side to side. This is the movement for many decorative stitches. This foot can cope with wide and narrow zigzag stitches and many other useful functions.
The design of the opening of the foot enables this foot to also sew a straight stitch, and therefore it can remain on the machine most of the time for straightforward sewing tasks, zigzag, and decorative stitches.
Zig Zag Foot Brands
Different makes and models of machines have slight variations to the zigzag foot. One really nice added facility on some machines is an adjustment, or leveling button, for sewing over extra-thick fabrics.
Some zig zag feet come in see-through perspex, allowing you to see exactly how the stitches are developing over the space you are sewing. Many of the machine’s decorative stitches use the zigzag presser foot.
The space for needle movement allows the different decorative stitches to be formed while the needle is free to move from side to side.
Zig Zag Foot and Stitch Adjustments
Play around with your zigzag stitch length or width on your machine. The different lengths make the stitch smaller or larger, and the different widths give a wider or narrow stitch.
Always try out the stitch on a scrap of fabric to be sure it is exactly what you want and the stitch lengths or widths you used to achieve the stitch.
Making a sampler and writing on the fabric the stitch length and width you set the machine on could save you a great deal of time in the future. You just have to refer to your sampler to choose the zigzag stitch you think is most suited to the task on hand.
FURTHER READING: How to Sew Zig Zag Stitch
Uses of the Zig Zag Foot
Here are 12 interesting tasks your zigzag foot would perform on most machines with the attachment and the decorative stitches.
Neatening Seam Edges
Set the zigzag at a length and a width to neaten raw edges and prevent them from fraying. This is a great way to neaten seams if you don't have a serger or overlocker. Read more about seam finishes, including the zig-zag stitch.
Sewing Stretch Fabrics
Set your zigzag on a narrow width to get a stretch stitch and sew up those tricky knit fabrics. The stretched-out zigzag gives elasticity to the seam stitching. Read more about sewing stretch fabric.
Applique Shapes and Letters
Use the zigzag set closely together and follow the design around the edges to seal and sew the shapes in place. This is easier on curved edges but corners and pointed edges will need some swiveling and some careful planning to turn neatly. The best way to turn is to leave the machine needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, swivel and then lower the presser foot before continuing. Read more about applique and reverse applique.
Sewing Satin Stitch
Set the stitch width very closely together and use it as a satin stitch to finish edges neatly or try a monogram.
Stitching Elastic Directly onto the Garment
You can use a zig-zag stitch to sew elastic onto waistbands. Stretch the elastic to fit the band and sew over the top of the elastic with a zigzag as you stretch the elastic to fit. Read more about how to sew a waistband.
Mending a Tear in a Garment
Use the zig zag repeatedly over a tear in a fabric or a rip. This is the easiest way to quickly mend a tear in the fabric. Set the width of the stitch to cover the tear and follow the edges several times to cover and secure the tear completely. Read more about how to sew a rip.
Hem Edge Finishes
A zigzag stitch used on a hem edge of the stretch fabric causes the fabric to crinkle and look wavy on the edge while it is neatening the edge of the fabric. Read more about lettuce hems.
In the absence of a buttonhole stitch, the zigzag set at a close narrow setting can double up as a buttonhole setting. Read more about how to sew a buttonhole.
Embroider lovely borders with zigzag in different colors or attach trims to the edge of different fabrics
Use your zigzag stitch to pull up gathers. This method of gathering relies on a piece of strong string and width of zigzag stitches to stitch over the string or cord. At the end of the row of zigzag stitches, the string can be pulled up to gather the fabric.
Cord gathering works very well on stiff or thick fabrics. It is a good way to pull up gathers for soft furnishings too. Read more about gathering with cord.
Making Bar Tacks
The zig zag foot and a stitch setting very close together and sewn multiple times in one spot create a useful bar tack when sewing pockets. This close zigzag finish is a secure stitch at the top corners of pockets or the end of zip openings.
Decorative Finish for Blankets
A decorative zigzag stitch is a lovely way of finishing the top edge of a blanket. Stitch the ribbon on and then turn the ribbon over to enclose the raw edges. Zigzag along the edge to complete the blanket with something soft and silky.
Zig Zag Foot - In Conclusion
There is no doubt that after some practice and trial and error, the zigzag foot is going to rank highly on your list of useful gadgets. Although the foot itself does not actually do the zigzag, the stitch, and the needle action can not be achieved without this very useful sewing foot.