Your Questions Answered: How to Use a Walking Foot

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Quilting | Comments


If you are already friends with your walking foot, you know how useful it can be for tasks like straight-line quilting or adding a binding. But in case you have had any issues or questions about how to use a walking foot, we’ve gathered up some helpful tips!

The Walking Foot Photo via Lindsay Sews

What is a walking foot?

A walking foot, also called a quilting foot, is a sewing machine accessory with built-in feed dogs to guide two or more layers of fabric evenly through your machine. It feeds the backing, batting and quilt top through the machine evenly, and can be used to quilt gentle curves or to machine quilt in the ditch. A walking foot also works well for:

Walking Foot Sewing Photo via Gretchen Hirsch

What should I look for when purchasing a walking foot?

It’s most important to buy a walking foot that is compatible with your sewing machine, so make sure you know the make and model when you are shopping. If you cannot get the correct foot from your manufacturer, a generic model may be available. You’ll want to know if your machine is a high-shank or low-shank machine, so check the manual. Some walking feet also come with a channel guide attachment, which fits on the side and helps quilters with parallel lines. Finally, look for an open-toe walking foot if you do a lot of stitch-in-the-ditch, because this will help you see exactly where the needle hits the fabric.

Close-Up View of a Walking FootQuilting foot with a channel guide. Photo via Sew Well Maide

Does a walking foot ever wear out or break?

Because a walking foot is a mechanical foot, yes, it can wear out or even break with use. Whether you sew with a plastic or metal walking foot, the bottom part of the foot may break off. A part of the plastic may become chipped, or the foot itself can break if you make the mistake of trying to sew in reverse.

If you notice a crack in the plastic housing that surrounds the walking foot, you may be able to replace just the plastic case. A quilter at Pattern Review details how she saved money by contacting her dealer for a replacement part. Members of The Quilting Board recommend buying directly from your sewing machine dealer and not a generic version. Generic walking feet can sometimes be cheaply made and they tend to break more often than feet from a reputable source, like your sewing machine manufacturer.

Walking Foot on TablePhoto via Lilypad Quilting

Does a walking foot require any maintenance to keep it working properly?

Just as a sewing machine should be cleaned, a walking foot can be cleaned to keep it free of fabric dust and other remnants. Lilypad Quilting readers offer some tips on how to clean a walking foot with a vacuum and cotton swab. If you have persistent problems with your walking foot or your sewing machine, it may be time to take it in to your local sewing machine dealer or repair shop to be be cleaned and serviced.

Quilt with Beautiful Straight-Line StitchingPhoto via Canoe Ridge Creations

Do you have any tips for straight-line quilting with a walking foot?

Megan Bohr shares her favorite tips for straight-line quilting on a home machine. She likes to start with a spray-basted quilt and a new needle. She also recommends keeping a slow, steady pace and marking your quilt lines until you get comfortable with the technique.

Once you’ve mastered the walking foot, there are plenty of other accessories to keep you learning new things! Sign up for the FREE Craftsy course Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z with Steffani Lincecum. You’ll learn how to use 11 of the most common sewing machine feet, including the blind hem, free-motion and buttonhole feet.

What do you love most about your walking foot?

Comments

  1. Cindy Mizer says:

    I would like a walking foot for my machine-it is a Husqvarna Emerald 118-and there is no walking foot available for that machine. I’d consider trying a generic but I’m worried it will mess up my machine. What should I do?

  2. 3Patch says:

    My old machine has no walking foot, and I couldn’t find to buy. I decided to buy a new one with walking foot. Meantime I won a quilt contest where first prize is a new Bernina. So I have solved my problem. I think the walking foot is best friend of any quilter.

  3. Megan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing my Straight-Line Quilting tutorial — my walking foot is my best friend! :)

  4. Donna says:

    The is a walking foot for the Emerald 118. I don’t remember the item # right off, but I work PT for a Viking Sewing Gallery located inside a JoAnn Fabrics in upstate NY. If you bought your Emerald in a Husqvarna Viking dealer, they should be able to help you. If you didn’t, then check Husqvarna Viking web site & look up sewing machine acsessories & it should give you a item #. Good luck!

  5. Pansy Rudd says:

    I have been straight line machine quilting for years, Is it necessary for the claw to be hooked on to the needle replacer screw shaft? Noticed in the picture I shared on FB the claw is not hooked.

  6. Linda says:

    I looked at a walking foot this weekend but haven’t purchased one yet. This article was very helpful.

  7. Elise stewart says:

    Cindy, I have the same machine and I bought a generic walking foot off eBay. It works just fine.

  8. Scheri Manson says:

    The walking foot can be used to make beautiful designs. I used the walking foot in the Craftsy class. Dot to Dot Quilting.