Friday Favourites - The Walking Foot

Today's product I want to focus on is the Walking Foot.

 A Generic Walking foot

 A Generic Walking foot

The walking foot is used primarily by quilters to ensure a good finish and lovely even stitches when sewing through three layers of the quilt.  Normal presser feet tend to struggle with thicker sandwiches of fabric.  So the walking foot is also useful for projects that are just really thick, be they quilting or not!  

I like to describe the walking foot like a crocodile.  It has a second set of feed dogs on the top, which grab the top layer of fabric much in the same way as the feed dogs on the machine grab the bottom layer and push it through.  This stops the layers of fabrics and batting slipping away from one another and becoming distorted.  In fact to this end, a walking foot is also great if you are trying to pattern match on a seam.  For instance you may have seen Tracy from the Great British Sewing Bee was using one the first week of series 4 when they had to make the chevron bias top.  The walking foot ensures that the bottom AND top layers are fed through the machine evenly.  Some machines have a built in 'Even Feed' foot which is great for this purpose too, but not great for quilting when a walking foot is preferable.  The way the walking foot is attached to the machine means that it kind of hops up and down as you sew, the bar sits above the needle clamp which enables the hopping!  And this is why it is better to use a walking foot for three layers and a built in even feed for two layers you want to pattern match.

All walking feet will have measurement guides on them in the shape of groove etc, which normally indicate an eighth and a quarter inch measures from the needle, as below.

The Crafty Nomad Stitch Guides

Some may come with a bar attachment that click in place and can act as a guide up to about 2 inches.  This allows you to set the distance and have evenly spaced quilted lines.  

The Crafty Nomad  Bernina Walking foot

Some really fancy walking feet will have interchangeable soles, as above, that might have a 'stitch in the ditch' guide on it (top right).  This guide sits in the seam as you sew and the stitches then sit in the 'ditch' of the seam.

So if you plan to quilt, pattern match seams, sew with fusible fleece, insulbright etc I would definitely recommend adding a walking foot to your sewing kit.  A generic one from eBay will normally set you back about £12.  A brand name one for a regular domestic machine £30-£40.  The Bernina one above £100 (Ouch!)

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