What is a Bernina “Coded” Foot?

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When teaching, I find alot of students don’t know what a “coded foot” is out there in Bernina-Land! Here are a few facts I hope you will find helpful and informative, so you WILL know the difference the next time you contemplate buying a foot… coded, or not! 

Pictured below are three ‘varieties’ of the exact same foot, which happens to be the ever-popular (Bernina) #20 foot, or open-toe foot. Most commonly used in  applique formats and many times the favorite choice foot for decorative stitching such as the blanket stitch.  This foot provides excellent visibility for exact placement of your stitches. 

The two on the right are the “coded” feet, or “C” feet, and they are labeled as such on the package. Coded feet have “magnifier-type” pieces (I call them frog eyes!) at the top of the shank of the foot.  And … “C” feet are more expensive; approximately $10 or so more, depending on the foot involved or machine model.

The foot at far left is an ‘uncoded’ foot typically used for 5 mm machines, which would be the Bernina machines 440 models and below.

The foot in the middle is a #20C foot for a 9mm machine.  (See the frog eyes at the top of the shank?)  C stands for ‘code’ for the computer in the sewing machine, which ‘tells’ the sewing machine to stitch out at various wider widths – up to 9mm.

The foot in the far right is like a combo C/D foot.  It’s labeled as the #20D foot, but it is also a C (coded) foot as well — see the frog eyes?! “D” means ‘dual feed” and this is a feature that is available only in the new 800 series models (Bernina 820 and 830).  It too, could be used on any type of machine, even the 5mm machines.  However, notice the ‘horseshoe’ type of metal shank — this D foot has twice the metal of a normal shank.  And is specifically engineered for the Bernina Dual Feed and it helps the foot function as a walking foot.  It would be a waste of money to buy a “D” foot if you don’t have the fancy machine, (as they are at least $15-$20 more than a ‘regular’ foot).

So what to buy, when? If you, in the future, are wanting to buy feet for a a Bernina, consider the type of machine you have (5mm vs 9mm).  Keep in mind that all coded and non-coded feet fit all of the Bernina machines 12 years or newer.  The two feet pictured below are an example of why it may be worth it to buy a foot in the coded and uncoded versions! They look the same from the top, but the bottoms of each foot are different — and they are meant to do different (as well as the same) techniques!  They are the braiding and piping/tricot foot #12 and #21. Note: The #12 on the left is mismarked.  It wore off a few years ago, and I mistakenly wrote #12 on it!  It’s really a #21)

Quilt:  “Hold On To Your Dreams”

Look at the picture below to see the differences in the bottom of the two feet and consider the following as reasons why you might consider buying both types:
1.  A coded foot has a much wider foot base.
2.  A coded foot can be used on a 5mm machine OR a 9mm machine! Did you know the same is also true of an uncoded foot? However, bear in mind that if you attach an uncoded foot to your 9mm machine, your stitch width is limited to 5mm. 
3.  An uncoded foot will also work on any machine… and the reverse is also true.  If you have a 9mm machine, you may consider/want to get a 5mm foot because of it’s specific capabilities and size dimensions.
4.  If you think you MAY upgrade to a 9mm machine, you should consider spending a little more now (rather than alot more later)… on a coded foot. 

Same foot on the top… but the left foot’s bottom accommodates larger cords in the “C” or coded foot

Why should you buy a coded foot (9mm) if you don’t own a 9mm machine? Because the foot base has a bit more stability on the fabric, might have more visibility for you, and covers more fabric/area depending on the type of foot, and application you are using.  Some cordings are quite a bit larger than what the 5 mm foot will accommodate. Therefore, the coded foot works much nicer for attaching very large cords, piping, & etc, for embellishment and home decorating techniques. 

If you’d like to know more, check out Bernina’s “Feetures” Books.  They will TELL ALL about every foot Bernina makes.  And I do mean, ALL! They are a wonderful resource.  Your Bernina dealer should have them in stock.

Comments 3

  1. Another good post on the different Bernina feet. I just pulled a good one while at Paducah. I purchased a foot I already have and didn't realize it until a week or so later. Of course I had thrown the packaging away already. Not sure but may advertise it to sell. Not one of my brightest moments for sure.

      1. A coded foot from Bernina has a “C” next to the number of the foot on the packaging–it means it can be ‘read” by the machine, and it will stitch 9mm wide stitches. Otherwise without it, it will only stitch 5mm wide stitches.

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