This foot is a favorite of mine, even though I don’t use it frequently. The reason I like it so much is that when I need it, there’s nothing else that will work. Called a bi-level or “uneven” foot,  the shape of the sole makes it useful in situations where the foot needs to ride along an uneven surface. Stitching  next to thick seam allowances (think jeans), sewing on heavy trims or attaching hook-and-loop tape are just a few situations where using an all-purpose presser foot with a flat sole just doesn’t work well. The solution is to use a bi-level presser foot.

Uneven Stitching

When the presser foot can’t sit flat as the fabric passes under it, it is difficult for the stitches to form properly. It is also challenging to guide the fabric evenly and stitch in a straight line. The sole of this foot has two levels and when placed on an uneven surface it rides smoothly over it. If you look at the sole of the foot, you’ll see that one side is thin and the other is thick, forming a “wall”.

Sole of bi-level foot

On the Same Level

Place your project under the foot with the thick layers against the wall and under the right side. The needle opening of most bi-level feet is narrow and intended for a straight stitch in center needle position. When the foot is placed on the uneven surface, the needle is positioned to edgestitch the trim or tape that is being sewn. As you sew, the foot passes smoothly over the uneven surfaces, avoiding stitch problems that might result from using a foot that isn’t supported on both sides.

Bi-level foot sewing heavy tape

The Best Tool for the Job

Even though this foot is useful for a few specific sewing situations, I consider it one of the most valuable ones I have. Yes, you can sew heavy trims and hook-and-loop tape with an all-purpose foot but it’s tricky to ride the uneven fabric surface. If you want beautiful stitching in these situations, you need a bi-level presser foot.

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