Learning to sew can be a great deal of fun; however, it can also be a huge learning curve. There are so many different sewing terms that you have to learn, and that’s before you even begin sewing. As well as this, you also need to learn how to use your machine and understand the different accessories you can buy for it.

In this article, we will talk about a highly popular accessory: the walking foot. Keep reading below to find out all about this sewing machine accessory:

What is a Walking Foot for a Sewing Machine?

If you’re new to sewing and have just bought your first Brother, Janome, or Singer, you may not know what a walking foot is. In simple terms, a walking foot is a big presser foot with feed dogs, which gives any sewing machine superpowers. 

What Are Feed Dogs?

A machine’s feed dogs help to move fabric through the machine. They are two, three and four-teethed bars, located on the bottom of the machine, just below the needle. They move back and forth in slots in your machine’s needle plate. They aim to feed (or pull) your fabric through the machine. Your machine’s feed dogs determine the stitch length and the speed at which you sew. 

However, sometimes, your machine’s feed dogs are not strong enough to pull the fabric through the machine. Thankfully, a walking foot can help you with this. This foot attaches to your machine and gives you an extra set of feed dogs for the top of your fabric, helping to make sewing much more manageable.

Why Use a Walking Foot?

One of the main reasons why sewists should consider using a walking foot is because it can help make sewing knits and other tricky fabrics much more effortless. A walking foot can make sewing matching plaids simple; it can help knit fabrics flow through your machine more easily without being stretched, and it can be used to prevent slippery fabrics like mink from slipping all over the place. 

A walking foot can also make sewing multiple layers much more straightforward. While most machines can cope with moving one or two layers of fabric, most struggle when more layers are added. For example, people who quilt often struggle to get all of the layers through their machine. They even find straight-line quilting an issue. However, quilting and quilt binding with a walking foot are much easier. 

How Does a Walking Foot Work?

A regular presser foot, which comes with a sewing machine, presses down and slides along the top layers of the fabric. This means that it occasionally pushes against the top of the fabric as the feed dogs attempt to move the fabric forward through the machine. 

On the other hand, a walking foot works by moving the bottom layers of fabric and the top layers at the same speed, meaning there is no misalignment. The feed dogs on the walking foot grab the fabric and help it move at the same speed, as the machine feed dogs are pushing the bottom layers of material. 

Watch this helpful video for more information:

Is a Walking Foot the Same as a Plaid Matcher?

In many ways, a walking foot is similar to a plaid matcher; however, unlike a plaid matcher, a walking foot does not supply any forward or backward force. Instead, it applies repeated downward pressure onto the material. This increases the friction between the layers of material, preventing them from slipping. 

Tips for Using a Walking Foot

If you’re considering giving walking foot sewing a go, here are some top tips to help you:

  • Choose the right walking foot for your machine – make sure you choose a walking foot that fits your make and model of machine.
  • Install it correctly – walking feet are relatively simple to install. Check your user manual or look at videos online to find out how to install one on your machine.
  • Practise on unwanted pieces of material – instead of trying out your walking foot on your next sewing project, it’s important to practice with it beforehand. This tip is crucial for beginners. 
  • Understand how they work – it’s important to understand how a walking foot, otherwise known as a feed foot, works. 

What Machines Can Use a Walking Foot?

If you’re wondering whether your sewing machine can use a walking foot, you’ll be pleased to hear that almost all models can. No matter whether you have a Elna, Janome or Bernina, there will be a walking foot for your machine. Just make sure you purchase the right one. 

Sewing knits and other tricky materials can be difficult, particularly for beginners. However, thankfully some attachments can help with these types of material, including walking feet. 

If you are still unsure what a walking foot is our team of sewing machine experts are happy to help. Contact Direct Sewing Machines to talk about our sewing machine accessories.