One of the biggest problems faced by sewers while sewing multiple layers of fabric is the uneven feeding of the fabric in the machine. When this is done, the fabric wrinkles, thus affecting the overall finish of the work. To avoid this, a walking foot is used.
A walking foot, otherwise called the dual feed foot or even feed foot, ensures that the different layers of fabric are evenly fed while sewing. A walking foot is big and bulky and does not look like a standard sewing machine foot. It has an arm that attaches to the needle bar.
When you use a walking foot, it grips the top layer of the fabric and moves in at the same pace in which the machine’s feed dog moves the bottom layer of the fabric. When this is done, the crowding together of the fabric and jamming of the machine can be avoided.
Can you Reverse Stitch with a Walking Foot?
No, you cannot sew a reverse stitch with a walking foot. This is because the foot is not designed for sewing in reverse. When you sew a walking foot in reverse, the machine feed dog moves the fabric backward, and the top feed dog of the walking foot moves it forward. Thus, you cannot undertake proper sewing.
Let us have a look at when the walking foot can be used
- Stitching matching patterns and stripes: When you are sewing together two printed fabric, and you want the pattern to align, then a walking foot can be used. The walking foot ensures that both layers of the fabric are sewn in alignment without shifting. Thus, you do not have to pin the fabric and keep checking the alignment when a walking foot is used.
- Stitching stretchy fabric: A walking foot can be used for sewing stretchy fabric like knit fabric. When this type of fabric is sewed, it stretches when passed under the presser foot. This is more so when you stitch along the direction of the stretch. A walking foot ensures that the fabric does not stretch and is fed properly while sewing.
- Stitching slippery fabric: Slippery fabrics are tough to sew because of its texture. Typically, this type of fabric is pinned together while stitching. When this is done, marks appear on the fabric, which can affect its finish. A walking foot takes away the need to pin up the fabric while sewing.
- Stitching leather and plastic: Sewing on leather and plastic is difficult with the standard presser foot as it does not move easily on the material. A walking foot makes it easy to sew on a wide range of materials like oilcloth, vinyl, and leather.
- Quilting in the machine: The biggest problem with quilting in the sewing machine is to keep the fabric and batting layer together. This is made easy by using a walking foot. Walking foot helps to stitch both straight and curvy lines with utmost precision.
- Stitching bulky and heavyweight fabric: When you want to sew heavyweight fabric like denim, and heavy wool, walking foot comes handy. The foot helps in aligning the fabric while sewing, thus providing a perfect finish. Similarly, for sewing bulky seams, like the seam of the waistband and side seam of the skirt, the walking foot comes handy.
- Topstitching bindings and hems: Sometimes, you will notice a dragline after topstitching a hem. In most cases, ironing with steam helps settle the problem. But stitching with a walking foot helps to keep all the layers in place and provide a flat edge.
How to attach a walking foot on a sewing machine?
Before attaching the walking foot, you should first remove the foot that is already installed in the machine. For this
- Bring the needle to the highest point by turning the wheel.
- Raise the presser foot so that it is away from the metal plate.
- Press the presser foot release. This will remove the presser foot.
- Using a screwdriver, remove the screws on the side of the foot adaptor. Now you can detach the foot adaptor. Keep it safe.
For installing the walking foot
- Raise the lever of the walking foot.
- Hook the walking foot on the presser bar by keeping the level raised up.
- Adjust the foot so that it is aligned with the hole. Now, insert the screw and tighten it.
- Now the walking foot is ready for use.
What all stitches can be done with a walking foot?
A walking foot is typically used for sewing a straight stitch. But it can be used for sewing all those stitches with a forward movement. Thus, you can do zig-zag Stitch, decorative stitches like serpentine and feather stitch using a walking foot. The only condition is that you should not sew back and forth using a walking foot.
Difference between quilting foot and walking foot
Both walking foot and quilting foot are used for quilting purposes. Hence, both terms are used interchangeably. But, in reality, there are some differences between both the foot.
Using a quilting foot, you can feed the fabric from any direction. It is more economical when compared to a walking foot and provides beautiful texture while quilting.
A walking foot, on the other hand, can be used only for straight-line quilting. It is more expensive when compared to a quilting foot and is used for stitching a multi-layered quilt.
Is a walking foot a must-have accessory while quilting?
A walking foot converts a standard sewing machine into a quilting machine. It is possible to sew two fabric together using a sewing machine. But when you want to align the fabric properly, like in case of quilting, it becomes difficult in a sewing machine.
A walking foot helps to align the different layers of fabric with the batting. It provides a perfect finish to your quilt without having to pin it up at multiple places. Thus, by using a walking foot, the quilting job can be done more accurately and fast.
But the walking foot is a little expensive. Thus, you can decide whether to use it or not depending on the project. If you are running a sewing business, then you can go for an industrial walking foot sewing machine that comes with a built-in walking foot.
When should you not use a walking foot?
A walking foot should not be used for the following stitches
- Reverse sewing: A walking foot is intended only for forward sewing. If you want to sew in reverse, the walking foot is not the right choice.
- Wide decorative stitches: Small decorative stitches like serpentine and feather stitch can be done using a walking foot. But if you want to sew a wide decorative stitch, then a walking foot is not the right choice as the stitch requires side to side motion of the fabric.
- Free motion quilting: Free motion quilting requires movement in all directions. Since the walking foot can undertake only forward stitches, it is not suited for free motion quilting.
What are the different types of walking foot?
Walking foots are available in two different types – a classic version and an open toe version.
The classic walking foot is the one that has been in use for some time. This type of walking foot provides better support to the fabric when the needle is pushed through. The classic walking foot is less expensive when compared to the open toe version.
The open toe walking foot is mainly used for quilting work as it provides better visibility. You will be able to see where precisely the needle hits the thread when using an open toe walking foot.