Quilting Blog

3 Reasons You Definitely Need a Walking Foot

Every new quilter should invest in a walking foot. This specialty sewing machine presser foot is essential for straight line quilting. It also increases accuracy when sewing long seams and attaching quilt bindings. A walking foot is one of the first investments I made into my quilting hobby, and it has served me quite well!

walking foot attached to sewing machine

How to use a walking foot in quilting 3 ways

1. Straight line quilting

If you want to quilt your quilt on a regular home sewing machine, straight line quilting is the best place to start.

sewing a straight line with a walking foot

However, sewing through three layers of fabric (the quilt top, batting and backing) can cause bunching and puckering when the layers shift as you sew. This happens while the feed dogs on your machine pull the fabric from the bottom, a regular presser foot encourages the top layer to move in the opposite direction.

Because a walking foot pulls the fabric from the top of the work as well, your project will feed evenly through your machine as you sew. If your quilt is basted properly, all three layers work under the needle at the same rate.  For this reason, a walking foot is also called an even feed foot.  

Straight line quilting without a walking foot can create all sorts of trouble. You might find puckers on the back of the quilt resulting from uneven feed. Or, after a good amount of quilting, you might find that the quilt top has been dragged to one side instead of remaining centered over the quilt back.  The effects of an uneven feed tend to be cumulative, getting worse and worse as you go. 

To fix such errors, you’ll need to pick out stitches and start again.  Yikes — what a headache! It’s much better to start with a walking foot and set yourself up for a more peaceful quilting experience.

2. Sewing long seams

Because a regular presser foot does not move fabric from the top, it always feeds fabrics slightly unevenly. This isn’t a problem when sewing short seams in patchwork, garments and bags. But over the course of a long seam, the uneven feed cumulates and becomes an issue. Tucks and ripples of excess fabric may result.

 

Sewing long seams on a quilt top

From Startup Library: Quilting with Christa Watson, featuring Lily & Loom Strawberry Fizz fabrc

Quilting, more than most other types of sewing, has a tendency to include long seams. When sewing large cuts of fabric together to create quilt backings, use your walking foot to help the fabrics feed evenly. You can also use your walking foot for sewing sashing and borders into your quilt tops.

In all these instances you should also use pins to encourage an even feed. A walking foot in conjunction with pins will create the best results.

3. Attaching binding

The last step of quilt-making is attaching your binding along the edges. Now you’ll be adding two layers of binding fabric to the already bulky three-layered quilt top! What do you need? You guessed it — your walking foot.  

attaching quilt binding with walking foot

Here again the walking foot will provide that essential even feed so that binding is attached without puckers and gathers.  

4. And anytime you like!

Since a walking foot provides an even feed, why not use it all the time? Actually, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use it for regular piecing and sewing.

Be warned, though: walking feet attachments tend to be noisier than a regular presser foot. But if you don’t mind the noise, you may find all your sewing is more accurate with your walking foot attachment!

12 Comments

Megen

My first quilting teacher turned me on to walking foots. It solves many problems, but it needs maintain ce like your sewing machine. Mine worked up a huge squeak, but my repair guy fixed it.
Thx

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G. Geyer-Zora

Can u use the IDT system instead of the walking foot

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Terry Sheldon

Yes, the IDT system that Pfaff has perfected is the reason I will never again stray from Pfaff machines! No walking foot is needed, and aside from a few exceptions, you can just leave the IDT engaged for all your sewing. I’ve tried all the major sewing machine brands, but am back to Pfaff for good…😊

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Margaret Barrett

I’m with you Terry! My first Pfaff completely spoiled me for any other! I’m a fairly recent quilting enthusiast, most of my sewing has been as a custom dressmaker, but I’m delighted with the way my wonder-full Pfaff handles all kinds of challenges.

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Catharina

Love my Pfaff, if ever I leave I am taking that with me as the only thing I really love hahaha, he can have the iron!

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Cath

Since Pfaff’s patent on their built in walking foot expired, a lot of machines today have a built in walking foot. When I go shopping for a new machine, that’s a must for me. It makes life so much simpler to not have to attach/detach a special tool and it’s right there when I want to sew long seams. If I don’t want to use it, I just flip it up out of the way. I LOVE this feature and usually sew with it engaged. It’s great for pinless sewing.

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Joy

I have an after market walking foot and I do not find that it is at all helpful in even feeding for binding application.

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Ria Favoreel

I have a 10 year old Pfaff with the built-in IDT. This feature was the main reason for buying this brand rather than another. And it has delivered what I hoped it would : just wonderful sewing your seams with. And you can flip it out of the way when not needed. No changing feet. And I sew with the IDT in place nearly all the time.

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Catharina

Yes, I do too and find my seams match much better and it is so easy just to pull it down, no trouble at all!

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Eleanor Leap

I have been sewing on Pfaff machines since 1988. Once an IDT person, always an IDT person.

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Pam

Does the walking interfere with sewing a scant quarter inch for quilts?

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Rachel Hauser

I do prefer to remove the walking foot for regular Patchwork piecing. I feel the bulky walking foot can make that scant seam harder to achieve.

Reply

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