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Best Sewing Machines for Quilting

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Why Use a Walking Foot for Quilting?

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Straight Stitch Quilt

A walking foot is a presser foot and one of the most important feet for quilters on a domestic home sewing machine. It is also known as a “quilting foot” or an “even feed foot”. It’s main purpose is to feed your layers of fabric through the machine evenly without puckering or bunching up. In this article we discuss:

Why is a Walking Foot Important for Quilters?

Quilts are made up of at least 3 layers of material. You will have a top fabric, a base fabric and the batting in between which makes up your quilt sandwich. When you are binding your quilt, you will have even more layers of fabric to stitch through.

It is important that your layers line up accurately or it will spoil the look of your quilt and it simply won’t work. Because you’re putting all these layers into the sewing machine at the same time, you need them to feed through at the same rate or the end result will be ruined.

How Does it Work?

Your sewing machine has feed dogs with special teeth that grip the lower fabric. However, because you have batting between your top and bottom layer, this batting will prevent the top layer from moving.

The walking foot has its own feed dogs which grips the upper layer of fabric. The feed dogs below and the ones on your walking foot work in conjunction with each other to keep your fabrics aligned and enable a good even stitch with no sliding of the fabric. 

What Kind of Stitches Can Be Sewn with a Walking Foot?

This special quilting foot is good for straight line stitching and stitch in the ditch. You will also be able to produce soft curved stitches. Straight line stitching is something that you will do a lot  with quilting. However for more intricate designs and patterns, you will need a free motion foot.

How to Use a Walking Foot for Straight Stitching

Using a walking foot for straight stitching is fairly easy. Simply make sure your work is pinned or basted before you start. Insert your fabric, lower the presser foot and begin sewing. 

You should put both hands on the fabric at either side of the needle to keep it nice and flat. Quilting gloves can help you keep a more stable hold on the fabric.

It is easy to turn your work with a walking foot simply by ensuring the needle is in the “down” position to keep your project stable, lifting the presser foot, then rotating it so that it’s facing the correct way for your next run of straight stitching. Remember to lower the presser foot again before continuing.

If you use small stitches, it will ensure that your work is secure.

You can use the edge of the walking foot as a line spacing guide when you’re creating a pattern of several lines. However, if you’re working with more complicated patterns, to ensure accuracy, you would be better to mark out the lines before machining.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Walking Foot?

Some sewing machines will come with a walking foot but others will have it as an optional extra. If buying this accessory separately, you need to make sure that the foot is compatible with your sewing machine make as well as the model. If you can’t buy one for the specific model, you should be able to find one that fits. Check whether your machine is low or high shank. 

An open toe foot is the best type of quilting foot because it gives optimum visibility when sewing your quilt and is especially useful when stitching in the ditch where accuracy is crucial to a high quality finished project.

It is important to keep your walking foot clean or it may not work properly.

Summary

So as you can see a walking foot is essential for quilters helping you feed multiple layers of fabric through the sewing machine evenly with no puckering.

If you are interested in trying out more intricate wavy patterns, take a look at our article on free motion quilting.