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Sewing without a foot pedal

Using a sewing machine without a foot pedal

Some of us sewing machine users either cannot use a foot pedal, because of a disability or injury, or do not like to use them and can therefore find it tricky to find a sewing machine that suits. I have to admit I am one of those who struggles to use a sewing machine foot pedal, I’m heavy footed and find it runs away from me speed wise (probaby why I don’t drive either!) Luckily I have discovered that many sewing machine manufacturers now give you the option to use a sewing machine without a foot pedal.

I decided to write a feature about this because whenever I take my machine to a class or sewing group so many stitchers are surprised to see it can be operated without a foot pedal.  We also get a lot of enquiries through The Sewing Directory from people looking for sewing machines suitable for disabled users. So hopefully putting this information out there will help people.

Speed control on a Janome sewing machine

My machines, the Janome TXL607 and Janome MC9400 QC, can both be used without a foot pedal. In fact almost all computerised Janome sewing machines can. You use the speed setting (shown above) to pick the speed you prefer to sew at. You slide it from the single arrow (slowest speed) towards the triple arrow (fastest speed) until you find a speed you are comfortable with. I tend to sew at the midway point most the time.

Then you use the start/stop button to start and stop stitching. Luckily the button (shown below) is located just above the needle so you can easily reach up to operate it whilst still keeping a grip on your fabric. Plus on my machine it lights up which makes it even easier to spot.

Using the stop start button on your sewing machine

One big benefit of sewing without the foot pedal is your machine will always stitch at a constant speed. I find this particularily useful when doing things like free motion quilting or free motion embroidery because you don’t have to think about moving your hands and feet at the same time. I can focus purely on moving the fabric.

It is also great when you are sewing something tricky as you can set the speed to super slow making it easier to control where the needle is going. Ideal for sewing curves or tricky applique shapes. On my MC9400 if you hold the stop start button it automatically does a really slow stitch, handy for corners.

Plus when sewing you can easily stretch your legs out or move them around because you do not have to keep 1 foot on the pedal at all times. You can even sew standing up if you prefer and have a high enough work surface.

Another thing I've found is foot pedals can be quite expensive to replace if they start to wear out. On my first ever machine I had to use a foot pedal and it cost me £130 to replace it. If you cannot afford to spash out on a new one you might want to see if your machine can operate without the foot pedal instead.

If you want a machine that you can use without the foot pedal I have spoken to both our website sponsors, Janome and Brother, to find out which of their machines would be suitable for you. Of course they all come with foot pedals too so if you find you don't like sewing without it you can easily switch back.


Budget:  230DC (this is their newest model) or CXL301

Mid range: DXL603 or DSK30,

High end: Atelier 5 or MC6600



Budget: Innov-is 15 or Innov-is 20LE

Mid Range: Innov-is 420 or Innov-is 1100

High End: Innov-is 1800Q or Innov-is Vq2


For more information about using your sewing machine visit our sewing machine techniques section.

How to use your sewing machine