The most basic foot is the zigzag or all-purpose foot. This can be used for straight stitching or zigzag or decorative stitches that will stitch in widths up to 7 mm or even wider on some of the new machines.
The satin stitch foot (sometimes called an applique foot) can also be used like an all-purpose foot. It is made of clear plastic allowing you to see the edge of the piece you are appliqueing. Some models have an arrow in the center of the foot to help position the stitch where you want it.
The zipper foot can be attached to the sewing machine so the needle can get close to the zipper teeth when sewing. Most newer ones are in one piece as shown in the photo. It can be attached to either side of the needle. The older style adjustable zipper foot is my preferred style. It lets you get in even narrower spaces than the wider foot shown in the first photo. The foot can slide from side to side and enables you to be very precise in the placement of your stitching. My favorite use of the zipper foot is to make piping which I might insert around a pillow or other item like an apron or a tote bag. You can easily make your own piping in any size needed for your project.
The overcast or over edge feet are wonderful when you need to put a seam finish on your fabric. There is a guide along the side of the foot so the fabric can be placed where the stitching will exactly cover the edge. The stitch is formed over the wires that are part of the foot which keeps the fabric flat and also keeps the fabric edge from curling or puckering. I especially like to use it when cutting off and hemming pants.
If you want to put an invisible hem in garments, especially dress slacks, you will want a blind hem foot. It has a guide to place the folded edge of your hem along so the resulting stitch will have just the right amount of “bite” to create an almost invisible blind stitch.
The most helpful foot for quilters is the quarter-inch foot. It has a guide on the side that is exactly 1/4 inch away from the needle resulting in a perfect quarter-inch seam each time.Information provided by Suzanne Sievers, The Stitch, 217 E. Lincolnway, Jefferson, 515-386-2014.