What is a Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

Image of a walking foot but What is a Walking Foot Sewing Machine?Sewing machines are of different types; this diversity allows you to pick the ones that will work for your various needs. These machines have mechanically driven needles for stitching or sewing clothes. However, with the increased use of sewing machines, let’s look at the walking foot sewing machine. What is a Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

A walking foot sewing machine is a sewing unit with a foot that evenly feeds the fabric layers to the device for stitching. It ensures that the fabric’s top layer moves under the needle at a similar pace with the bottom layer at the feed dog.

You have a choice whether or not to use a walking foot, but if you want excellent results, there is no better option. The foot moves the knit fabrics evenly, and they do not stretch asymmetrically. 

It also eliminates excessive pinning for slippery fabrics such as satin, which do not work well with pins.

Can All Sewing Machines Use a Walking Foot?

Manufacturers know that a walking foot is your best friend when you want to create even flat edges; all sewing machines can use the foot. Also, during sewing, the walking foot batts the fabric layers together during quilting. Therefore, whether you match plaids across seams or topstitching through many layers, you need the foot for professional results.

Now that we are talking about the universal use of a walking foot, you can make some considerations whenever you are getting a walking foot sewing machine. They include;

  • Strong Motor. Your walking foot should always feature a good capacity motor because sewing thicker fabric requires strength. In addition, a robust AC motor will help you work effortlessly on materials such as a boat sail.
  • Skill Level. A walking foot has a particular skill level requirement because it sews bulky fabric and leather-like quilt. Therefore, you need to have sufficient working experience before you engage in such applications.

Additionally, a walking foot is more complicated than embroidery and simple sewing machines, and thus you need to consider your skill level before purchase.

  • Big Needle Size. If you intend to use the sewing foot on thick materials, a big needle size is a requirement. The needle has to be more prolonged and robust so that the project’s thickness does not compromise the result.

Even in our day-to-day routines and improvisations, we do not use an ordinary sewing needle to pierce leather. Therefore, one needs a sturdy hand that will not break or bend.

  • Bigger Work Space. As you select a walking foot sewing machine, consider a unit with sufficient workspace or a giant arm. Such a machine will serve you well when you work on leather or a quilt that requires more space.

There are applications that a small and compact-sized machine cannot execute properly. Therefore, you need to determine your sewing applications and get a suitable unit.

The good news is that you don’t always have to purchase a separate walking foot because some manufacturers provide sewing machines with an inbuilt foot. One of the best units with an inbuilt walking foot system is the JUKI DNU-1541 Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine. It sews fabric and leather layers with ease and offers a consistent seam quality and reliable feed. 

Users commend it for its excellent sewing capabilities and the double-tension mechanism. The machine also has a perfect ratio for the walking foot and presser foot alternating movements.

However, ensure that you assess your projects to determine if they all require a walking foot because if some of them do not need one, you are better off with a detachable one.

When Should You Use a Walking Foot On a Sewing Machine?

As much as a walking foot is an essential feature when working with a sewing machine, there are specific occasions when you should use or avoid it. Applications that require you to use a walking foot are as follows.

  • Machine quilting. You need the fabric and batting layers to stay together during the process to guarantee straight or curved lines. A walking foot will help you to achieve this goal as it holds the fabric firmly.
  • Topstitching hems and bindings. Pressing in the absence of a foot is not enough because the presser foot may dart the top layer faster than the bottom one. A walking foot helps you to avoid having draglines within the hem after a topstitch. As a result, you will keep the layers even and have flat edges at the end of the sewing project.
  • Working on slippery fabric. It would be a good move to have a firm grip when sewing fabrics to avoid uneven stitches. In most cases, people prefer to use pins because they help keep the fabric layers together, but the pins may ruin some materials such as chiffon and satin. The walking foot comes to your rescue as it eliminates excessive pinning and keeps the material in good shape.
  • Sewing knits. Knit fabrics have a flexible nature and may stretch due to the foot’s pressure, especially if you are working in the stretch’s direction. A walking foot helps you move these fabrics evenly, and thus they do not stretch out of form.
  • Matching stripes, plaids, and other prints. Some garments have a directional or pattern image, and you need to match them across the seams. Again, a walking foot will aid in ensuring the pieces move without shifting and preserve the print.

The underlying factor in the above applications is that a walking foot is the best option for a sewer that intends to achieve neat and even stitches. However, some sewing projects are better off without a walking foot. They include;

  • Free motion quilting. Since the foot only moves in forward motion, side-to-side applications may not be possible.
  • Reverse sewing. The walking foot cannot move the fabric in reverse. Therefore, you only need the machine feed dogs, which are sufficient in moving the material backward.
  • Wide decorative stitches. These stitches require the sewing machine to provide side-to-side fabric movements, which the walking foot cannot perform.

Some users find it fun to work with a working foot because they can make zig-zag stitches. The stitches will be neat and excellent as the movements in the pattern are forward. This element helps individuals with an inbuilt walking foot yet want to engage in decorative stitches. 

The foot only stops being useful when you need to make backward and forward movements. Otherwise, it is a perfect accessory to your sewing kit.

What is the Difference Between a Walking Foot and a Quilting Foot?

We now know that a walking foot is a part that evenly feeds the top and bottom pieces of fabric. It has an arm attached to the needle bar and ensures that the machine pulls the bottom and top material at the same rate.

On the other hand, a quilting foot is an additional foot that provides for multidirectional fabric movement as you sew. It has a spring on the shaft that makes motion quick and easy and is ideal in random fashion sewing.

A quilting foot works well for quilting and embroidery, requiring darn-free motion. This element distinguishes it from the walking foot that stitched multilayered quilts. A quilting foot is also more economical than a walking foot which is more costly than other sewing machine feet.

Additionally, if you choose to do away with the walking foot, the only alternative would be a quilting foot. However, you will need to exert more energy because the foot requires you to drop the feed dogs and move the quilt sandwich manually.

To understand the differences between a quilting foot and a walking foot, we need to discuss the free motion quilting foot.

The free motion quilting provides a specific machine quilting style that you can do on a long arm quilting device. It also requires a darning foot that hovers over the quilt surface to allow multidirectional movement. The foot creates textured effects on materials, and the process is quite simple as you hem or sew waggy lines through two fabric layers and one wadding layer. 

Alternatively, you can explore your creativity and sew around the design’s outline as the stitches sink into the layers and give an embossed result. 

Some of the free-motion Quilting Foot in the market are as follows:

  • Spring Formed Free Motion Quilting Foot. This foot causes the material to move at a similar pace with the pedal. It is a common feature in many domestic sewing machines because it forces the fabric as the foot hops up.
  • Non-hopping Spring Foot. As the name suggests, the foot does not hop but allows slight bouncing. It is excellent for people who view the hoping as a distraction.

However, it does not work with all sewing machines, which is a significant downside.

  • Open toe Quilting Foot. The quilting foot offers the user better visibility as they quilt as it helps them see the exact needle punch location.
  • Closed Toe Quilting Foot. On the other hand, this foot is entirely redundant, and there are fewer chances for it to catch the fabric edges, especially when working on an applique.

How Do You Quilt With a Walking Foot?

Once you get a handle on it, quilting with a walking foot is as easy as ABC. The first step is to base your quilt and attach the foot onto the sewing machine. You should also choose and set up the running stitch, then adjust its width and length.

You can begin quilting from any point, but experts recommend the center as it eliminates puckering and creases that form when you work from the side. Also, ensure that you keep adjusting the units setting depending on the design and patterns you are making.

When quilting with a walking foot, some requirements include quilting gloves, rotary cutter, painter’s tape, spray baste, cutting mat, and pierced quilt top. If you are wondering how you will use these supplies, follow these steps to give you excellent results.

  • Step one: Baste it

This stage involves making a quilt sandwich on a surface and taping the quilt to avoid shifts and enhance stability. Ensure the material is even with no pluckers, and spray your baste from the edges. Once you are satisfied with the smoothing, remove the tapes and press.

  • Step two: Attach the foot

After basting, attach the foot to the sewing machine and secure it with the available clip or lever. Ensure that you fasten it to prevent it from coming off during stitching.

  • Step three: Set up the machine

The next thing is to select the stitching as you set up the sewing machine. Professionals recommend that you go for a running stitch as it is the most suitable one for quilting. You should also adjust the width and length of the unit according to the patterns you are creating.

NB: if you change the width of the stitch, you may modify the wave’s depth.

  • Step four: Start stitching.

You can now start stitching, but first, choose the beginning point, and since everyone has a preference, you can consider starting at the center as it helps you work fast. The advantage of beginning at the center is that you will not have to deal with bubbles or puckering. However, when you get to the ends, start stitching them and get rid of the threads.

  • Step five: Finishing it up

You will know you have finished the job when you get the most suitable density. So, if you observe you are home with the results, square the quilt and cut off excess batting, bind, or thread. 

As you prepare for your quilting projects, you should adhere to safety measures that minimize accidents and injuries. They are as follows:

  • Get the right tools. An individual needs to invest in the right tools when quilting because without them, they will have a rough time completing the project with ease. The tools should be of good quality and ergonomic to handle heavy fabrics and reduce user strain and fatigue.

Some of the essential tools for the project include rotary cutters, fabric shears, a sewing machine, a walking foot, seam rippers, acrylic rulers, pins, and threads.

You should also consider arranging these tools in a kit and keep them within reach so that you don’t stop working to look for a particular item.

  • Use proper posture and take frequent breaks. Please adopt a comfortable stance during quilting to avoid back pains, fatigue, and neck pains. A suitable posture also ensures that you reduce fatigue, which allows you to quilt for extended breaks. Frequent breaks will also help you refresh and dehydrate to keep you strong and focused for a more extended period. Get the right accessories like a sewing chair that will help you stay comfortable.
  • Don’t sew while intoxicated, exhausted, or ill. Since you are working with sharp objects such as needles and pins, it is essential that you only quilt when you are sober and alert to control the machine. Working when you are exhausted, or intoxicated may even lead to sewing your fingers. Therefore, ensure that you are in the right frame of mind to use a sewing device.
  • Make sure your shears, needles, and pins are sharp. Working with blunt shears, pins, or needles is quite frustrating as they do not work as fast and consume a lot of energy. They may also cause accidents as one is trying to force them to cut and pierce through fabrics. Therefore. Before you sit to quilt, check your cutting and piercing tools and verify that they are sharp[ enough for the materials.
  • Don’t put pins in your mouth. Pins are valuable tools but dangerous if someone uses them carelessly. Please, under no circumstances should you put the pins in your mouth. Accidents do happen, and they may hurt you. Also, the sewing machine may cause unexpected movements, and you pierce your mouth.

If you are using pins, get a small storage kit to store them during and after quilting safely.

  • Don’t sew over your pins. We know that if the needle keeps sewing over the pins, it will bend, get blunt, or worsen the fabric.
  • Ensure proper workshop lighting. We cannot emphasize enough the need to work in a well-lit area. It helps you to see the fabric and your fingers as you guide the machine. Proper lighting also prevents you from stepping over pins or needles that may cause further injuries.

Here’s how to Quilt Using a Walking Foot


A walking foot is helpful to sewers who work on denim and rag quilt because it holds them together. Working with it will help you do an excellent job in your sewing project, both at home or for commercial purposes. However, you may not understand the value of the unit or even get the most suitable one for your project if you do not answer the question:

What is a Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

An essential aspect of the machine is that it provides an even fabric feeding mechanism that allows you to ensure that the top and bottom fabric layers move at the same pace on the unit.

Do you have a burning issue, question, opinion, or suggestion? Then, kindly let me know what you think about this post in the comment section below!

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