Do all sewing machines have a presser foot tension regulator?

Anna B
by Anna B

I am a mid to intermediate level seamstress. I've had two machines over the past 40 years, a Kenmore, followed by a White sewing machine, both very nice sewing machines. A few months ago, I purchased a Brother sewing machine. I was having difficulty sewing with it and realized the machine doesn't have a presser foot tension regulator. I assumed that to be standard on all sewing machines. I welcome all guidance or advice anyone might be willing to share with me. Thank you.

  16 answers
  • Patty Patty on Jun 14, 2020

    That is a good question. I assumed they all did. Did you google this? Perhaps it has a sensor of some type, instead of manual adjust?

  • Mogie Mogie on Jun 14, 2020

    I had a sewing machine my folks bought me when I was in high school and it had a pressure regulator that could be activated with your knee.

    • Anna B Anna B on Jun 21, 2020

      I had one of those in my high school clothing construction class!

  • 17335038 17335038 on Jun 14, 2020

    No, unfortunately, many of the newer models of sewing machines do not have a presser foot regulator.

    I too find this frustrating at times, as simply you can not adjust the presser foot according to different individual thickness of fabrics you are sewing.

    I have had the same Kenmore for 40 years, yep, since 1980, and it has the tension adjustment. (It is a little knob at the top of the machine that you push down.) 5 years ago I bought a Babylock after being convinced that it was newer, more modern, faster, and had easier access to the bobbin shuttle, and had the snap on presser feet instead of the 'old' screw on style.

    More than once have I regretted my decision, and still prefer the Kenmore overall.

    Although the Babylock is faster, it is also much lighter (plastic, instead of metal) so it tends to bop around at high speeds. And no, it does not have the presser foot tension adjustment.

    • Anna B Anna B on Jun 21, 2020

      YES! I regret not trying to have my old Kenmore or my old White sewing machines rebuilt. What is with these lightweight, everything plastic sewing machines on the market today? No wonder people have gotten away from home sewing!

  • 17335038 17335038 on Jun 14, 2020

    To all the questions about sewing here on Hometalk that I respond to, I always like to ask the poster if they are familiar with Threads magazine.? It is a quality publication from Taunton Press, with consistently clear close-up detailed photos and a variety of topics.

    I discovered them years ago, and always find that there is something that I can learn. You can subscribe to hard copies, or borrow free from public libraries. And, of course they are available on line now as well.

    • See 1 previous
    • 17335038 17335038 on Jun 21, 2020

      You're most welcome!

      I enjoy reading through Tips and Questions that have been submitted by other readers. These are two regular features in each issue.

      You can also submit questions to Threads editor via email. Every time I had occasion to do so, my question was forwarded on to a Threads staff member and answered in a timely manner.

  • I would think they should, because fabrics come in different thicknesses.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jun 14, 2020

    I have a 45 year old Kenmore and it has a snap on presser foot, different presser foot for different fabrics and widths.

    • See 2 previous
    • Anna B Anna B on Jun 21, 2020

      Yup, you have a machine from the good old days.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Jun 14, 2020

    Hello. I have an older portable machine from the 1980s, this is news to me. Hope you find a solution the answers that you need.

  • Beth Beth on Jun 14, 2020

    This is a standard feature on older machines. If you find a nice vintage sewing machine, it should have this control. I'd go for a nice all-metal, mechanical machine. They're easier to fix and maintain. I've written about this here:

  • 17335038 17335038 on Jun 16, 2020

    I did find this link pertaining to Brother sewing machines.

    Maybe yours has this feature?

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 18, 2020

    Hello Judy,

    Get in touch with a Brother retail outlet and ask if they can get you a copy of the machine instruction booklet. at should help, or try looking on Ebay for a copy. Best wishes

    • See 2 previous
    • 17335038 17335038 on Jun 21, 2020

      No longer on new machines because the speed of the new machines has made them unnecessary???

      Well, I've heard silly excuses before that don't make sense, but this is a pretty good one.!

      IMO, the function of a presser foot tension regulator has little to do with how fast a machine sews. It has much more to do with the feel of sewing different thickness of fabrics, and the stitch quality and consistency.

      I think that this feature is no longer on new machines simply because it is cheaper to make them without. -Same reason why so many new machines are thin, lightweight, and made from cheap plastic.

      I agree with your comment above that sadly, this could very likely be one of the reasons why so many folks are no longer sewing, or learning to sew any more.

  • Anna B Anna B on Jun 27, 2020

    You're 100% right! I learned to sew when I was 12 years old, my Mother signed me up for summer sewing lessons at our local Singer store. I was taught the purpose and importance of the pressure foot tension regulator then as well as in my 4 years of Home Economics clothing construction classes (that's a blast from the past!) I've sewn with chiffon and corduroy over the years and those fabrics cannot be sewn with a universal presser foot tension regulator, NO way. This lousy Brother sewing machine is constructed of 95% plastic to 5% metal, if that much. I wish I'd had the foresight to have my old Kenmore and White sewing machines refurbished.  Live and learn, huh? Sometimes the hard way.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 03, 2022

    Ask the Manufacturer or a Sewing Machine Shop or Craft Store.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jun 10, 2023

    Hi Judy, looks like Brother went automatic. Adjustable upper thread tension gives you complete control over the tension of the upper thread and this tension can be manually adjusted to balance the tension of your stitches. The Brother XR9550PRW also adjusts the presser foot pressure using an Automatically Adjusted Control.

  • I don't think so - check your owner's manual.