Use a Walking Foot to Make Quilting a Breeze

Sewing machine walking foot
Amanda Oyler / Fatsew Cat Quilts

A walking foot, also called an even feed foot, is a special sewing machine presser foot that makes quilting and other tasks a breeze. It's built-in feed dogs grip and advance the upper layer of fabric as it travels through the sewing machine

The gripping action of the walking foot's feed dogs works in unison with the sewing machine's feed dogs, which grip the underside of the fabric. The synchronized action allows all layers of the quilting or sewing project to move through the sewing machine at the same pace without shifting away from each other.

This special type of foot can be used anytime but is especially handy when machine quilting, when working with projects that are made with multiple layers of fabric, or when sewing together fabrics that might be slippery and prone to shifting away from each other as they pass under the pressure foot.

Assisting With Sewing Accuracy

  • A walking foot is helpful for machine quilting. A quilt sandwich is made up of three layers—the quilt top, the inner batting, and the quilt backing--all bulky layers that can easily shift when you sew them together with a regular presser foot.
  • You'll find that a walking foot is a perfect helper when you work with the even bulkier layers of a rag quilt or a denim quilt.
  • A walking foot is fairly large and can be difficult to navigate around curves. The foot is best reserved for straight-line machine quilting, including most stitch in the ditch methods and quilting large, gently curved lines. Use free-motion quilting techniques for intricate designs and tight curves.
  • A walking foot can help you sew the binding to a quilt. You must work with several layers of materials when you sew binding around the edges of a quilt. A walking foot can keep those layers from shifting out of place.
  • You may need to mark the places where you should stop sewing mitered binding since not all walking feet have marks that help you judge distance. Stopping at the correct distance from each corner of a quilt is important for accurate miters.
  • Use a walking foot when matching plaids, stripes, and other patterned fabrics. Once pinned together correctly for sewing, this special foot will help keep your patterned fabrics from shifting out of place as you sew.

Where to Buy a Walking Foot

Many sewing machines come with a walking foot that's provided by the manufacturer. If your sewing machine did not, the manufacturer may offer this special foot as an optional accessory.

Shop around to find generic versions of even feed feet that can be used with many sewing machines, even vintage models. You may need to search online for a foot that will fit your sewing machine.

Walking feet vary quite a bit in price but are typically more expensive than other types of sewing machine presser feet. You'll find that the price you pay is a valuable investment in accuracy, ease of sewing, and the time it takes to fix those litter errors we all sometimes make.