How to Use A Walking Foot For Quilting

Not only that the walking foot has a cool name, but it’s also versatile and dependable for so many sewing jobs, quilting including.

What’s the walking foot?

Also known as the quilting foot, the walking foot is a sewing accessory that comes with feed dogs for guiding two or more layers of fabric when using the sewing machine.

The foot is going to feed the backing, batting and quilt top evenly through the machine. Some use it for the gentle curves or quilting the ditch with the machine.

There are many situations when you can rely on the walking foot:

  • Adding the binding of your quilt
  • Straight-line quilting
  • Sewing some plaids
  • Quilting the slick/knit fabrics

How to choose a walking foot?

First thing first, the walking foot has to match your sewing machine, so it’s essential that you know the model of your sewing machine. You may not find the right foot from the manufacturer, in which case a generic foot is going to be your best shot.

Is your machine high-shank or low-shank? It’s an important info to know about your sewing machine. You can find walking feet with channel guide attachment that you may fit on the side. It’s good to have for the parallel lines when quilting. If you use the stitch-in-the-ditch a lot, an open-toe walking foot is going to be an excellent option for you.

Why is the walking foot essential for the sewing precision?

There are many good things that the walking foot brings to the table, so here are the most notable:

  • It’s good to use for the straight line machine quilting, for the majority of stitch&ditch methods. You can also rely on it for the large and soft curved lines. The tight curves and sophisticated designs are natural to make with free-motion quilting techniques thanks to the walking foot.
  • When you’re working on bulky layers of denim or rag quilt, the walking foot is fundamental for great results
  • It’s reliable for the machine quilting. A regular quilt sandwich consists of three layers (the backing, the inner batting, and the quilt top) that are rather bulky. When you sew them together with a standard presser foot, the risk for the layers to shift is rather high, but that’s not going to happen when using a walking foot.
  • You can also use the walking foot when sewing binding to a quilt. You’re going to have to work with multiple layers of fabric when sew binding the edges of your quilt. A walking foot is a right accessory for the layers to stay in place, eliminating the risk of shifting.
  • The walking foot works when matching stripes, plaids, and various patterned materials. After you pin them right for sewing, the walking foot is going to maintain the fabric in place throughout the stitching.

Not all walking feet come with marks that help you appreciate the distance. You may have to mark the places when you have to stop sewing — stopping exactly where you need from every corner of your quilt matters for the precision miters.

When to use the walking foot for quilting?

Even though there are so many situations when you can rely on the walking foot for your quilting, we’re going to focus on the most popular ones:

  • Straight line quilting

If you’re planning to quilt on your regular sewing machine, it’s better that you use the straight line quilting.

When sewing through three layers of materials, it’s going to lead to puckering and bunching. As the feed dogs are dragging the material’s bottom, the regular presser foot is causing the top layer go in the opposite direction.

If you’re going to use a walking foot, you may not experience this type of situation. It’s because the walking foot as it’s pulling the fabric from the top too. Therefore the material is going to feed through the machine evenly as you go. It’s essential that your quilt is basted right so that the layers go under the needle at the same speed. It’s why some people refer to the walking foot as the even feed foot.

Uneven feed or puckers on the backing of your quilt are common when your machine doesn’t have the walking foot. When using a regular presser foot, you may end up with the top of the quilt dragged to one side. It’s only getting worse the more you’re using the regular presser foot.

It’s best that you save yourself from a headache and begin with a walking foot for better quilting results.

  • Attach binding

Attaching the binding all the way the edges is the last step of your quilting. You’re supposed to add two more layers of binding to the huge three-layered top that your quilt has already. A walking foot is a right tool to use as it’s going to ensure even feed so that you attach the binding with no risk for gathering or pucks.

  • Sew the long seams

Everybody knows that a  regular presser foot isn’t going to be capable of moving the fabric from the top, feeding the material a bit unevenly. If you’re sewing some short seams in patchworks, bags, or other garments, it’s not a big drama. The situation changes entirely in the case of a long seam when the uneven feed is only becoming more significant and worse. The risk for ripples of excess fabric and tucking is rather high.

When it comes to quilting, long seams are pretty standard. You need to sew huge pieces of fabric together for creating the backings of your quilt, and the walking foot can feed them all evenly. It’s also great to use for sewing borders and sashing into the top of your quilt.

Some tricks are going to help you obtain even better results. Using pins for increasing the efficiency of the walking foot is one of them.

  • Every time you feel like

As walking foot is going to ensure even feed, why wouldn’t you use it every time? When it comes to piecing and sewing, there’s no apparent reason for which you shouldn’t use it.

Be aware though that the attachments of the walking foot aren’t as quiet of the regular presser foot. If you have no problem with the noise, you shouldn’t sit on the fence about using a walking foot. At the end of the day, what counts for you the most? The accuracy or the quiet environment?

Related posts

How to Use Quilting Pantographs

How to Use Quilting Rulers

Other resources

How to Use a Walking Foot to Make Quilting a Breeze

How to Choose and Use a Walking Foot

How to Use a Walking Foot for Quilting