How the sewing machine foot pedal works – (updated info. 2023)

How the sewing machine foot pedal works

With a sewing machine, you can sew different fabrics and materials, but to operate it, you need to connect it to external hardware, Foot Pedal. 

With a foot pedal on your sewing machine, you can freely control the fabrics and let your feet control the speed. This gives you complete control over materials.

That is why I decided to explain how the sewing machine foot pedal works, types, and other latest information of 2023. 

What is a foot pedal?

It is an external hardware component that you can place on the floor of nowadays sewing machines, and you can also adjust it to the treadle sewing machines, and when pressed, it will power your sewing machine. 

The sewing speed depends upon the pressure of your foot on the foot pedal. It means the harder you press the foot pedal, the more it will release power to the sewing machine. 

We must also take care of our foot pedals by not pressing or releasing them too hard, as they will damage the internal spring. 

How the sewing machine foot pedal works – explained in 2023

1. Rheostat

It is the most common part of a foot pedal because it changes the resistance and signals your sewing machine to start or stop sewing. 

By pressing the pedal more, the resistor plates will be compacted, which speeds up the speed and vice versa. 

2. Footrest

It helps you stabilise your foot at one position near the floor; this way, you don’t need to lower or upper your foot, thus giving comfort. 

3. Capacitor

As we know, the capacitor stores electricity as a reserve. With the sewing machine’s foot pedal capacitors, electricity will be stored and returned in case of outages, so sewing will not be interrupted when there is no electricity. 

4. Components & Parts

Also, the foot pedal has different parts, such as its outer plastic or steel body, internal springs, and wires, so they must be in good working order to function. And in case the springs become faulty, you need to fix them as soon as possible; otherwise, it won’t operate your sewing machine. 

5. Connector

For your foot pedal to operate, it must be connected to your sewing machine through a foot pedal cord. You should ensure that your foot pedal is connected to your foot pedal motor and sewing machine. All of these should be connected to the leading electricity in the case of industrial models.  

The Principles Of The Right and Left Pedal

In treadle sewing machines, there are two sides of a foot pedal, Right and Left. 

Right Pedal

This pedal helps release the clutch, stopping the sewing machine. 

Left pedal

This pedal increases or decreases the sewing machine’s speed. This is the most critical pedal because you cannot operate your sewing machine without it.  


In the case of a two-foot pedal or a wider single-foot pedal, the pedal is connected by a shaft in the middle. You can rotate the foot pedal clockwise and anticlockwise with this attachment. Your sewing machine will stop when your foot pedal rotates clockwise, but it will start sewing when it rotates anticlockwise. 

Types Of A Foot Pedal Mechanism

A) Two-foot Pedal Mechanism

It is the most common mechanism used in various industrial sewing machines. They have two pedals, among them, the left pedal controls speed, and the right pedal stops the sewing machine. 

B)Single-foot Pedal Mechanism

Due to its single piece, you can only control it with one foot. It will operate when you press it down, and when released back, it will stop the sewing machine. Today, many home sewing machines use this foot pedal mechanism.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a foot pedal

1. Advantages

  • With a foot pedal, you will have complete control over your sewing machine. 
  • Unlike hand-operated sewing machines, the foot pedal will increase the sewing speed. 
  • The foot pedal enhances the coordination between the foot and the brain. 
  • Except for a few models, some foot pedals don’t need electricity. 
  • Foot pedals can be used by beginners as well. 

2. Disadvantages

  • One of the drawbacks is it uses a continuous motion of the foot. 
  • Sometimes, a sudden speed will increase. 
  • Foot pedals can be hazardous for children. 


I hope you now understand how the sewing machines’ foot pedal works. Also, the benefits and drawbacks, where to use it and where to avoid it, etc., so you should read each point carefully to get the most out of it. Use a foot pedal with a sewing machine for high efficiency and speed. 


Frequently asked questions

Can I operate a sewing machine without a foot pedal?

You can operate a sewing machine without a foot pedal using a handwheel or knee pedal.

Can the foot pedal work without a power supply?

In some cases, foot pedals can operate without electricity because they have capacitors that store energy for later use.

Do all sewing machines need the same foot pedal?

It is extremely important to buy a specific foot pedal according to the type of sewing machine. Because some machines use single-foot pedals; however, on the other hand, some use two-foot pedals.

Are all sewing machine foot pedals the same?

This is the most crucial question. Using a non-specific foot pedal for your sewing machine will damage the motor and the device. 
Let’s take a few examples, such as old treadle sewing machines or industrial sewing machines equipped with a steel-made foot pedal that is highly effective. You will burn or damage your sewing machine if you use a mini foot pedal with an industrial one.

Can I use sewing machines without a foot pedal?

In short, a big YES. You can operate your sewing machine of any model without a foot pedal, and it will perform better. But you’ll have to compromise the speed because, in this situation, you need to operate it through hand or manual knee pedals. 
However, modern sewing machines have a start or stop button controlling speed.