What is a Presser Bar Lifter

A sewing machine is a very comprehensive mechanical equipment that makes fabric design and dressmaking possible. Older models of sewing machines have about 20 to 25 different parts while newer electrical models have about 37 to 40 parts. All of these parts perform different intricate functions that allow the sewing machine to carry out its primary purpose. One of these parts is the presser bar lifter.

The presser bar lifter is one of the simpler parts of the sewing machine, however, its importance cannot be underemphasized. Without the presser bar lifter, the presser foot will not be able to function and if the presser foot cannot be used, then no sewing can be done, no matter how experienced the tailor is.

What is a Presser Bar Lifter?

Presser Bar Lifter Located

Before explaining what, a presser bar lifter is, it is important to understand what a presser foot is. A presser foot is the part of the sewing machine that holds the fabric when sewing is going on. The feed dogs hold the fabric from below while the presser foot holds it from the top. This process makes sure that your fabric does not go out of the intended stitch lines when you are working on it.

What is a Presser Bar Lifter Used For?

Presser Bar Lifter Located

Like we earlier said, a presser works hand in hand with the presser foot. A presser bar lifter is a detachable mechanical device that allows the tailor to control the up and down movement of a presser foot. Though this sewing machine part is one of the smallest components, it performs very important functions. Some of these functions include;

  • Regulating the presser foot

The major function of the presser bar lifter is to control the movement of the presser foot. The presser foot is a piece of double-sided equipment with flat edges. When sewing is going on, it is important that the presser foot be down. However, when you are done with that particular stitch, you cannot force your fabric out from under the presser foot because if you do, the fabric will get very rough in the best-case scenario and in the worst-case scenario, the fabric gets torn. The presser bar lifter allows you to avoid such complications. When you are sewing, you can easily lower your presser foot and when you are done, you can lift it up without any stress. 

  • Protects the fabric from rumpling

All tailors, both experienced and newbies, and even people, in general, don’t like newly made clothes that have uneven stitches or rumpled fabrics. If your fabric is rumpled, it could be solved by pressing it with water. However, you can avoid this debacle all together by sewing the right way. The presser foot is a piece of double-sided equipment with flat surfaces. These surfaces glide over the fabric during sewing to make sure that the stitches are neat and evenly placed. Without the presser bar lifter to lower the presser foot at the appropriate time, you would find it hard to make neat stitches if at all you can.  

  • Allows for freehand quilting

When performing freehand quilting, a presser foot is not advisable. A walking foot or a darning foot will be most appropriate. The point here is that it does not matter what foot you are using for your sewing, a presser bar lifter will still serve its basic function of lifting and lowering the foot. For freehand quilting, it always advisable to drop the feed dogs. However, the foot is still going to be lowered when you are making your quilts. As the name implies, freehand quilting requires you to use to adjust your fabric yourself as you proceed with the sewing. The presser bar lifter is greatly required at this point because you would need to lift the foot more often due to the complicated nature of this technique.    

Where is the Presser Bar Lifter Located?

Presser Bar Lifter Located

Sewing machines are produced by different manufacturers and as such the location of parts is bound to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, the most likely place for this part is the back of the machine. If the lifter is in the form of a lever, then it would definitely be at the back however, for newer electronic models, the lifter might come in form of a button. If your machine is of this kind, you would have to check your manual to be able to locate it.

Types of Sewing Machine Feet

We have already established the fact the major function of a presser bar lifter is to support the presser foot in its up and down movement. However, it is important to note that the presser bar lifter works perfectly fine with any kind of foot as long as they are compatible with the sewing machine and they are properly set up. If you want to change your presser foot and you are not sure how then the safest course of action would be to consult a professional. Apart from the all-purpose presser foot, some of the more popular sewing machine feet include;

Presser Bar Lifter Located

  1. Walking foot: This is the perfect foot for freehand quilting and three-layer stitching. The name walking foot stems from the fact that it just moves around the fabric instead of actually pressing on it. The walking foot is larger than the normal presser foot but the presser bar lifter still has the capacity to move the walking foot in an up and down movement just like the normal presser foot.
  2. Darning foot: As the name suggests, this particular foot is used to perform darning functions. For you to use this foot, you are going to have to lower the feed dogs or cover it with appropriate metal stitch plates. The darning foot is a spring-loaded foot that moves around the fabric. Nevertheless, the presser bar lifter still performs its function perfectly with the darning foot.
  3. Embroidery foot: Experienced tailors prefer to use embroidery foot when they are doing a job bordering on embroidery. This foot allows the needle to sew in a zig-zag manner and it is suitable for highly dense fabric. This is the only foot that is totally open in front of the needle and it makes your work visible. The presser bar lifter works just fine with this embroidery foot.
  4. Edgestitch foot: This kind of foot is useful for stitches that border very close to the edge of the fabric. It has a bar that cuts through the center that acts as a guide to your stitching. You could also use this foot to perform your day to day sewing functions. The presser bar lifter works with this foot perfectly.
  5. Rolled hem foot: This type of foot is perfect for producing a well folded and stitched narrow hem. It also works perfectly with the presser bar lifter.
  6. Zipper foot
  7. Buttonhole foot
  8. Pintuck foot and so on.   

These are not all the feet we have. We just want to establish that the importance and the usefulness of the presser bar lifter don’t just apply to a particular type of foot (normal all-purpose presser foot). 

Related Questions

Can your presser bar lifter get damaged?

Presser Bar Lifter Located

It is only on very rare occasions that presser bar lifters get bad. It is more likely that your presser foot gets bad first.

Can the presser bar lifter be detached from the sewing machine?

It varies. Some sewing machines are designed to make attaching and detaching the presser bar lifter easy while others are not so easy. If you are dealing with the latter kind, it would be helpful to seek the help of professionals.

How much does the presser bar lifter cost?

It cost between 5 dollars to 14 dollars depending on what you are looking for.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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