Walking Foot Sewing Machine
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What Is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine? How To Use It?

Read this blog and learn what is a walking foot sewing machine and how to use this type of sewing machine.

Your sewing machine has superpowers thanks to the Walking Foot, a rather large presser foot. You get an additional set of feed dogs for the top of the fabric being sewn as a result. Using this foot makes handling unusual fabrics manageable. It becomes simple to sew plaids that match.

Your knitting machine passes knits through without expanding. Minky cloth, which is a fabric that is slick, doesn’t slide all over the place. Quilts and other bulky crafts feature thick, multiple layers that blend seamlessly.

Find out why you require this presser foot in the following paragraphs. Additionally, even if you already own one, I bet you’ll come up with some fresh ideas for new ways to use this incredible sewing tool.

What is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

A walking foot attachment for a sewing machine is a large, peculiar-looking presser foot. There are several different kinds of walking feet, but this is the one that home sewers use the most frequently. 

The majority of home sewing machines do not come with a walking foot attachment as an option; instead, it must be purchased separately.

Examine the components of a walking foot in the illustration below.

There is a presser foot lever (called an arm sometimes). The machine needle is held in place by a screw, which is covered by a lever that moves up and down in tandem with the needle.

Additionally, a foot clamp for screwing the foot to the machine is visible. The bottom has a sole that resembles a typical presser foot.

The feed dogs that are integrated into a walking foot and function similarly to the feed dogs on any sewing machine are, however, its most crucial component.  

What Is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine? How To Use It?

For those who are unaware, feed dogs are the small, thin metal bars that move the fabric under the presser foot on a sewing machine. They are positioned below a throat plate.

Although some of the walking foot’s feed dogs are made of plastic, others can be made of metal. 

How Does A Walking Foot Work?

An individual feed dog is present on a walking foot. You can see how the presser foot has openings by looking at the illustration of a walking foot below. The white ridged components pass through those openings in time for the machine’s feed dogs to pull the top fabric.

Teeth that grip the fabric are also on the feed dogs on the presser foot. To keep the foot in time with the feed dogs and stitches, the lobster claw-shaped piece on the side of the foot rides up and down with the needle bar.

When Should You Employ A Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

Traversing Bulky Seams

A walking foot’s extra set of teeth aids in climbing over bulky seams, such as those where a skirt’s waistband meets the side seams or a pair of pants’ fly opening meets the crotch seams.

What Is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine? How To Use It?

These awkward locations could cause a standard presser foot to become stuck, resulting in a thread nest beneath. In order to move more easily “uphill,” a walking foot helps grip the material. This is excellent for topstitching thicker materials, like this canvas for home decor:

Coordinating Stripes, Plaids, And Other Prints.

A walking foot is also useful when sewing clothing with directional prints or patterns that must match across large seams. Using a walking foot ensures that it will be sewn in the manner you intended if you take the time to cut and pin your pieces so the prints will align nicely across seams.

Matching Seam Intersections

It’s crucial to match seam intersections if you’re sewing a garment with a waist seam or separate cuffs so that the finished product has a continuous, aesthetically pleasing horizontal or vertical line.

Even if everything is correctly pinned, a typical presser foot may slightly nudge the top layer forward as you sew, resulting in seam lines that aren’t quite aligned on the right side of the garment. It can be unsightly to have differences of even 1/8″.

Nothing is more annoying than having to undo a section of your stitching to correct such a small error, but nothing is more rewarding than getting perfect seam intersection lines the first time. This is where a walking foot comes in handy: The layers will be sewn uniformly provided the seams are pinned firmly.

Topstitching Bindings, Hems, Or Plackets

What Is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine? How To Use It?

Have you ever topstitched a garment only to discover enigmatic drag lines inside the hem or button placket? A burst of steam can occasionally help the fabric settle, but occasionally the issue still exists.

A typical presser foot may scoot the top layer of fabric more quickly than the bottom layer when a layer of fabric is folded under and topstitched, even when the fabric is carefully pressed beforehand. When you stitch farther from the folded edge, such as on a deep hem, the likelihood of this happening increases. A walking foot aids in leveling out all layers for nice, flat edges.

Look at the two bias binding-facing-finished necklines below and compare them. The samples on the left and right were stitched using standard presser feet and walking feet, respectively.

The binding stitched with a regular presser foot has obvious drag lines at the curves where the top layer was pushed ahead of the bottom layer, while the binding stitched with a walking foot lays much flatter between the stitching and curved edge, all other factors being equal, including fabric, needle, pressing technique, and stitch length.

Sewing Knits

Knit fabrics have a propensity to “grow” under the presser foot as you sew because of how stretchy they are. This is especially true when sewing with very stretchy fabrics, like rib knit, or sewing in the direction of stretch, like on the hem of a T-shirt. Knit fabrics are moved more evenly by a walking foot, preventing them from stretching out of shape.

What Is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine? How To Use It?

The hem on the rib knit fabric below was finished using a walking foot on the bottom and a regular presser foot on the top. There were no changes to any other factors. You’ll see that the standard presser foot produced a hem that was stretched out and waved. The second sample stayed flat.

When Should You Not Walk With Your Foot?

A walking foot can be utilized in a variety of circumstances. There are some instances, though, where using one could lead to project failure:

  • Free-motion quilting – a walking foot works very well when the fabric moves forward, but it doesn’t turn from side to side.
  • Wide decorative stitches – since these require side-to-side movement, a walking foot can’t handle them.
  • Sewing in reverse – a walking foot’s feed dog can only move the fabric forward, which will still happen even if you try to sew in reverse.
  • Sewing lightweight silk – a bulky walking foot with moving feed dogs can damage the delicate fabric.

How Do You Configure A Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

You should refer to your machine’s manual for instructions on how to set up the walking foot. Here’s how to use a manual walking foot like mine (similar foot here; mine came with my machine), whereas some walking feet need to be plugged into the machine.

The presser foot shank snap needs to be unscrewed first. I have these tiny screwdrivers in my machine storage box just for situations like this.

Place the walking foot’s claw on the needle bar after the shank has been removed, then screw the foot’s shank onto the machine. Make sure the shank screw and the needle clamp screw are both tightened. The lobster claw on the needle bar can cause the screw to come loose and the needle to fall out, which is one issue with this kind of foot.

What Is A Walking Foot Sewing Machine? How To Use It?

How Do Walking Feet And Ordinary Feet Differ From One Another?

A typical presser foot presses down on your fabric while sliding across the top of it. The presser foot merely pushes the fabric as your machine’s feed dogs pull it toward the back of the machine. Certain (silky or stretchy) material types and fabric layers may have problems as a result of this.

A walking foot is a large presser foot that has its own feed dogs to help pull the fabric through at the same pace as the machine’s feed dogs. Any fabric puckering or misalignment is corrected or prevented as a result.

What Are The Benefits Of A Sewing Machine With A Walking Foot?

The majority of walking foot sewing machines are industrial, but there are some portable models available for home sewers as well. 

If you frequently sew with a walking foot attachment, you might discover that using a walking foot sewing machine yields higher-quality results. Because of their built-in walking feet, these machines are perfect for thick, slippery, and layered fabrics.

These machines are made specifically for sewing items like auto, boat, and furniture upholstery, all kinds of covers, sails, tents, camping trailer covers, awnings, umbrellas, bags, luggage, travel accessories, sports and camping gear, outdoor clothing, canvas shoes, slippers, orthopedic devices, etc.

Do Walking Feet Make Sense To Purchase?

There is no getting around it, so definitely. Your machine likely didn’t (or won’t) come with a walking foot, so you’ll have to pay extra for one – and they can be expensive. However, I advise making the investment if you enjoy carrying out any of the sewing projects I listed above.

TIP: Before you make your purchase, double-check that the walking foot you want to buy is compatible with your machine.

Conclusion: Walking Foot Sewing Machine

This article should have all the information you need regarding the advantages of sewing machines with walking foot attachments. Please post any additional queries you may have in the comments section so I can address them. I apologize if I did not address them in this post. 


What is the Benefit of a Walking Foot Sewing Machine?

In general, a walking foot makes sewing thick layers easier because the presser foot on top of your fabric moves (or walks) along with the feed dogs underneath. Theoretically, this prevents the top layer of fabric from puckering or shifting because it will move at the same speed as the bottom layer.

Is It Worth Buying a Walking Foot?

A walking foot is a tool that most quilters are familiar with and frequently use. It’s a specialty foot that is larger than regular presser feet and it costs more, too, but it is so worth it. For sewing a quilt together without any layer shifting, quilters are well aware of the value of this foot.

Is a Quilting Foot the Same as a Walking Foot?

The purpose of quilting feet, often called a walking foot or an even-feed foot, is to evenly feed the three layers that make up a quilt through your machine during the quilting process. In order to sew heavier fabrics for projects like making clothing, standard sewing machines have a presser foot.

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