What is a walking foot? A walking foot is a larger foot attachment that can be attached in place of the regular presser foot to aid in feeding fabric through the machine as it is being stitched.
Most machines have 1-2 sets of “feed dogs” that sit in the base of the machine just below the presser foot. These feed dogs move your fabric along while it is being stitched. For most projects these feed dogs are adequate. However, a walking foot provides an extra set of these feed dogs. The feed dogs in the walking foot move along the fabric from the top at the same speed as the regular machine feed dogs are working to move the fabric along from down below. This tag team approach helps to keep multiple layers moving together in sync.
When do I use walking foot? A walking foot is helpful at times when you are trying to move both a top and bottom fabric through your machine at the same rate...especially if those top and bottom fabrics are prints you are trying to match up perfectly along the seam.
The use of a walking foot is helpful when working with fabrics that stretch...like knit. It can also be helpful when working with fabrics that are thick or bulky and for fabrics that are fussy and slippery like silks, velvets and minky. If a fabric is giving you grief try working with it using your walking foot!
A walking foot is perfect for use when machine quilting because it helps to eliminate layers from “creeping” out of place while you stitch. Walking feet work best with straight line and stitch in the ditch machine quilting methods.
The use of a walking foot can be beneficial when machine binding a quilt. It will keep the top layer from moving ahead of the bottom layer, which can cause puckers, and instead leaves your layers nice and smooth.
Any time you are sewing together multiple layers of fabrics a walking foot can come in handy...tote bags, bindings, items with thick interfacing etc. Multiple layered projects are always a good time for you to try attaching and using your walking foot.
When NOT to use your walking foot: Walking feet are designed to move fabric straight forward through a machine. Most do not go in reverse nor do they move from side to side. Because of this a walking foot attachment is not good for back stitching and projects like free motion quilting or decorative stitches which requires side to side or backward movements.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to use your walking foot! Grab your manual, pull out the foot, and get it set up. Then practice on scrap fabric. In no time at all you will get the hang of it and be wondering why you haven’t been using it before now!