Sewing tip: Use your ¼ – and blind hem feet for accurate top- and edge stitching

I know I’m not the only one that occasionally struggles to get even top- or edge stitching. For most sewing machines you can buy a top stitch- and edge stitch foot, but they cost money and that money could also be spend on fabric, right? There is a much cheaper solution. Most sewing machines will at least come with a blind hem foot and often also with a ¼ inch foot. Mine are from Janome and if your sewing machine is a different brand they might look slightly different. I expect a stitch in the ditch foot (that I don’t own) will also work really well.

Left: 1/4 inch foot. Right: blind hem foot.

Left: 1/4 inch foot. Right: blind hem foot.

The thing these feet have in common is that they have a guide that you can place your fabric against as you are sewing. If you place this guide on top of a seam and keep it there while you are sewing your top stitching will be a very consistent distance from the seam. If you place the edge of your fabric against the guide and keep it there while sewing you can stitch really close to the edge. Sometimes you’ll have to adjust the needle position for it to work properly. When I place the guide on top of the fabric I’ll usually decrease the pressure on my foot to allow the fabric to be transported smoothly.

The guide of the 1/4 inch foot is placed on the seamline during topstitching.

The guide of the 1/4 inch foot is placed on top of the seamline during topstitching.

These feet have some limitations compared to the feet that were really meant for the job. With my ¼ inch foot I can only stitch a ¼ inch away from the edge because there is only a small hole for the needle so I can’t change the needle position. With the blind hem foot I can adjust the needle a bit to get different distances away from the edge but this is also somewhat limited. Ever since I started using these feet to do my topstitching I’m much happier with the results.

The edge of the fabric is placed next to to the guide of the blind hem foot. I adjusted teh needle position so I could stitch close to the edge.

The edge of the fabric is placed next to to the guide of the blind hem foot. I adjusted the needle position so I could stitch close to the edge.

Did you ever consider using these feet for top- or edge stitching? Do you now more feet that would be helpful to achieve accurate topstitching?

May 12, 2014

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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9 Comments

  1. I made it!!

    These ones are good to use! I get frustrated sometimes top stitching thick material. These really help!

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Yes, it really makes it much easier!

      Reply
  2. Selma

    That’s a usefull tip! I resently tried the blind hem foot. Never thought I could use it for something else aswell. Thanx

    Reply
    • Emmely

      I like to try if I can use things for purposes they weren’t intended for. In this case it works really well. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Ruthie

    Ha. I recently started using my overcast foot to topstitch and edgestitch. I’ve never used the blind hem foot that came with my machine. (I’m still sewing stitched hems on everything. Wah-wah.) I even tried my adjustable zipper foot once when I wanted to come from the right hand side. Maybe it’s time to whip out the blind hem foot?

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Ah yes, the overcast foot also has a guide so that would work as well. You have to be a bit more careful though not to hit its little metal bars with the needle. I think the blind hem foot will be easier.

      Reply
  4. Carolyn

    This post has inspired me to finally inspect the blind hem foot that came with my machine, and also to read the manual about how to use it! Don’t know why it took me so long. Now I have to find a good excuse to test it out! Thanks for the tips. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Iris

    I am new to sewing. I tend to make things complicated really quickly, so have proceeded to try blind hem stitching pants. Needless to say that I broke my blind hem stitch guide already from trying to hem the thicker parts of the pants near the seams, and now have difficulties finding a replacement blindhem foot. Could I use the 1/4 inch foot instead?

    Reply
    • Emmely

      I fear that would be extremely challenging. The stitch guide on the blind hem foot is located so that the needle will only catch a couple of threads of the folded hem butted up against it. The guide on the 1/4 inch foot is 1/4 inch from the needle and you can’t really put the needle in the correct position to use it the same way as the blind hem foot. The least frustrating option is probably to buy a new blind hem foot….

      Reply

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