The Difference Between Presser feet for Top-loading Sewing Machines, and Front-loading Sewing Machines

I used to wonder why Janome have different categories of presser feet. I don't just mean what the feet do, but for particular types of machines. Well, it's not to do with the shank. They seem to be almost universally the same. It's to do with the shape of the needle hole.

The presser foot on the left is for my Toyota 21-DES -- a front-loading sewing machine. It has a straight needle hole. The presser foot on the right is for my Brother XR6600 -- a top-loading sewing machine. It has a curved needle hole.

Why? What difference does it make which way you put the bobbin into the sewing machine? Well, it's to do with the shuttle hook. In a front-loading sewing machine, the bobbin case and shuttle hook are vertical, and the left-right movement is in a straight line from the needle's point of view.

But with a top-loading rotary bobbin, the shuttle hook moves in a curve in front of the needle. For you to sew a zigzag, the needle must move forward a little at the sides or else the hook wouldn't come near enough to the needle to pick up the thread and form a stitch.

So that's why the needle hole is a different shape on front-loading and top-loading sewing machines (and their presser feet). And now I won't be getting feet for the wrong type of machine! I'd better go and check my Amazon wishlist to make sure I've got the right ones listed! : )

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner


  1. Thank you for providing this info. Now I can finally order feet for my Singer and Janome - machines with confidence. The Singer is a top load while the Janome is front load.


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