Skip to Content

Do You Drop the Feed Dogs When Using a Walking Foot for Quilting? (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

do you drop the feed dogs when using a walking footNo, you don’t drop the feed dogs when using a walking foot for quilting. Keep those feed dogs up!

The walking foot needs the feed dogs to move the fabric layers evenly. Drop the feed dogs when you want to free-motion quilt, but for straight-line quilting with that walking foot, keep ’em up and running smoothly.

Trust me, trying to quilt with the feed dogs down and a walking foot is a recipe for bunching and skipped stitches. So let those feed dogs do their job – it’ll make your quilting look professional.

Want to reveal the full potential of that walking foot? Read on, my quilting friend!

Key Takeaways

  • Keep those feed dogs up and running smoothly when using a walking foot – they’re the real MVPs of smooth, even quilting. A walking foot needs those little metal bars to keep your fabric layers moving in perfect sync.
  • Dropping your feed dogs is like benching your star quarterback – sure, you might have more control, but you’re missing out on the precision plays. Only sit them out for tight curves and intricate free-motion designs.
  • Feed dog maintenance is a quilter’s chore, but no biggie. A little lint brushing, oiling, and occasionally swapping out worn players means your team is always game-ready.
  • The walking foot’s stitching options may be limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative! Find ways to utilize that steady quilting prowess with decorative touches, bindings, or investing in a few interchangeable feet. After all, it’s your quilted masterpiece!

Do You Drop the Feed Dogs When Using a Walking Foot?

No, you don’t drop the feed dogs when using a walking foot for quilting. The feed dogs should remain up to work in conjunction with the walking foot to evenly feed the layers of the quilt through the machine.

Feed Dogs and Walking Foot

Feed Dogs and Walking Foot
When using a walking foot for quilting, you’ll typically want to keep the feed dogs up. This allows the walking foot to work in tandem with the feed dogs, ensuring an even feed of multiple fabric layers during quilting.

Feed Dogs Up for Walking Foot

For walking foot quilting, you’ll want your feed dogs up. These thin metal bars move fabric evenly, preventing slippage and shifting. Make sure to:

  • Clean feed dogs regularly
  • Tighten any loose screws
  • Check stitch length isn’t set to zero
  • Refer to manual for walking foot compatibility
  • Practice first on scrap fabric

With feed dogs up and the walking foot engaged, you’ll enjoy smooth, even quilting every time.

Feed Dogs Down for Free-Motion Quilting

While you keep the feed dogs up for walking foot quilting, you’ll want to drop them for free-motion quilting. With the feed dogs down, you gain greater control over fabric movement – essential for intricate designs. Just remember to cover them or set your stitch length to zero. This freedom allows you to quilt beautifully flowing lines and patterns.

Walking Foot Functionality

Walking Foot Functionality
A walking foot is an even-feed foot that prevents slippage and shifting of fabric layers when quilting. Its two-part mechanical action lifts the foot sole as the feeding mechanism moves in sync with the feed dogs.

Even-Feed Foot

A walking foot is an even-feed foot that moves in tandem with your machine’s feed dogs. Its two-part mechanical action lifts the foot’s sole as the feeding mechanism synchronizes with the feed dogs. This foot tension and pressure prevent fabric jamming or uneven stitching—a godsend when quilting layers of fabric and binding.

Prevents Slippage and Shifting

You won’t have to worry about fabric shifting or layers slipping when quilting with a walking foot. Its unique design grips the top and moves in sync with the feed dogs below, ensuring precise, even feeding.

This control and precision make the walking foot ideal for quilting, especially with decorative stitches that require clean stitching lines. No more frustrating fabric shifts – your stitches will be perfectly aligned.

Feed Dog Position for Walking Foot

Feed Dog Position for Walking Foot
For most quilting projects using a walking foot, you’ll want to keep your feed dogs in the up position. However, some quilters find dropping the feed dogs provides better control for certain intricate quilting patterns or tight curves.

Feed Dogs Up for Quilting

You’ll want to keep the feed dogs up when using a walking foot for quilting.

This allows the walking foot’s even-feed mechanism to grip the fabric from the top and bottom, ensuring smooth fabric movement compatible with various fabrics and stitch lengths.

With feed dogs up, you maintain control for free-motion quilting.

You can utilize decorative stitches for artistic effects, leveraging the walking foot’s advantages.

Feed Dogs Down for Control

For more control when quilting, you’ll sometimes want your feed dogs down, even with a walking foot. This allows you to freely move the fabric in any direction for intricate free-motion designs or tight curves that the walking foot alone can’t handle.

Dropping the feed dogs gives you ultimate mastery over stitch placement and design complexity. Just be aware that decorative stitches may not be compatible with this setup.

Common Feed Dog Issues

Common Feed Dog Issues
Your feed dogs mightn’t be moving if your stitch length is set to zero or if there’s lint, thread, or dust stuck in them. You can prevent feed dog issues by regularly cleaning them and adjusting the stitch length properly.

Feed Dogs Not Moving

If your feed dogs aren’t moving, the stitch length is likely set to zero. Double-check this setting before assuming something is wrong. Even with a walking foot, the feed dogs need to move for the fabric to advance. If they seem stuck or misaligned, it could indicate an issue requiring servicing.

Feed Dogs Stuck Down

You don’t want your feed dogs stuck down when quilting! If this happens, check:

  • The presser foot is lifted
  • The feed dog lever is up
  • Debris isn’t clogging the mechanisms
  • Lint hasn’t accumulated under the needle plate

Stuck feed dogs often signal an issue that needs prompt attention for smooth quilting. With some troubleshooting, you’ll be back in action!

Feed Dogs Broken or Worn

You’ll also want to check if your feed dogs are broken or worn down. Loose screws can cause this issue, and the feed dogs won’t grip the fabric properly. If so, you’ll need to get them repaired or replaced entirely for ideal quilting performance with your walking foot. Regular maintenance helps prevent excessive wear and tear.

Feed Dogs Filthy

Dirty feed dogs can markedly affect your quilting. If you notice thread, dust, or lint trapped in the feed dogs, maintenance is required.

Thoroughly clean the feed dogs with a soft brush or compressed air to remove any accumulation.

Regular maintenance of your machine and keeping the feed dogs free of debris will guarantee smooth fabric feeding and prevent stitch quality problems.

Walking Foot Compatibility

Walking Foot Compatibility
When using a walking foot for quilting, you’ll find that your machine has limited stitch options, with straight and zigzag stitches typically being compatible. However, some machines do allow for decorative stitches with a walking foot, offering a decorative touch to your quilting projects.

Limited Stitch Options

When using a walking foot, you’ll encounter limited stitch options. Refer to your machine’s stitch chart, as most only allow straight and zigzag stitches with the walking foot engaged.

For instance, the Brother CS6000i is incompatible with decorative stitches when the walking foot is attached.

However, some high-end machines like certain Viking models offer interchangeable feet for expanded walking foot compatibility.

Decorative Stitches With Walking Foot

While your walking foot limits decorative stitch options, you can maximize its potential with a few strategies:

  1. Check your machine’s compatible stitches. Brother CS6000i only allows straight and zigzag with the walking foot.
  2. Utilize a stitch-in-the-ditch foot for quilting lines between blocks or "stitching in the ditch".
  3. Invest in interchangeable feet like Viking’s new walking foot for decorative topstitching.
  4. Change your machine’s plate to access additional stitch patterns with the walking foot engaged.

Using Walking Foot for Quilting

Using Walking Foot for Quilting
Before attempting your first quilting project with a walking foot, practice on scrap fabric to get a feel for the motion and tension. For first-time quilters, start with a simple potholder project to build confidence before moving on to larger quilts.

Practice on Scrap Fabric

Before tackling a full quilt with your walking foot, practice on scrap fabric. Experiment with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, controlling fabric feed, and getting an even stitch. Invest in quilting accessories like basting spray for smooth layers. Mastering walking foot basics on scraps builds confidence for flawless quilting on your next project.

Use Potholder for First-Time Quilters

After practicing on scrap fabric, you’ll want to move on to a small project like a potholder for your first quilting attempt with the walking foot. Here are some tips:

  1. Choose cotton fabric in colors/patterns you love
  2. Cut 2 squares slightly larger than desired size
  3. Layer with batting in the middle
  4. Quilt the potholder before trimming excess

Starting small allows you to get the hang of quilting with the walking foot without overwhelming yourself. Safety first – take it slow!

Secure Binding With Decorative Stitches

Once you’ve mastered quilting with a walking foot, use decorative stitches to secure your binding for a professional finish. Check your machine’s stitch options – many allow zigzag or decorative stitches with the walking foot. For more intricate designs, try an interchangeable "stitch-in-the-ditch" foot. With practice, you’ll create beautiful quilted projects with secure, decorative bindings.

Feed Dog Adjustments

Feed Dog Adjustments
For proper feed dog adjustments when using a walking foot for quilting, make sure to set the stitch length according to your project’s requirements. If you need increased control over the fabric movement, you can disengage the feed dogs by using the drop feed dogs lever or covering them with a polyester sheet.

Adjust to Stitch Length Settings

After practicing on scrap fabric with your walking foot, you’ll adjust your feed dogs to match the desired stitch length. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Feed dogs resemble thin metal bars with diagonal teeth
  • The feed dogs move fabric according to your stitch length settings
  • Keep feed dogs clean and replace if they’re worn or broken

With proper feed dog adjustments, your quilting will look flawless! Maintaining your feed dogs guarantees smooth fabric feeding every time.

Disengaging Feed Dogs

To disengage your feed dogs, you’ll want to drop the feed dog lever. This lifts the feed dogs away from the throat plate, allowing your fabric to move freely under the presser foot. Another option is covering the feed dogs with a polyester sheet or index card to prevent them from gripping the fabric. Finally, set your stitch length to 0 – this deactivates the feed dogs entirely.

Disengage Method Pros Cons
Drop Feed Dog Lever Easy access, precise control Potential lever issues
Cover Feed Dogs Simple, no lever required Fabric can shift
Set Stitch Length to 0 Completely deactivates feed dogs Limits stitch options

Feed Dog Maintenance

Feed Dog Maintenance
You’ll want to keep your feed dogs clean and free of lint, dust, and thread debris for smooth fabric feeding. If the feed dogs become worn or damaged over time, you may need to replace them for ideal quilting performance.

Cleaning Feed Dogs

Proper feed dog maintenance is essential. You’ll want to regularly:

  1. Brush away lint and thread bits with a small brush or compressed air
  2. Use a lint remover to tackle stubborn buildup around the feed dogs
  3. Oil the feed dogs to keep them running smoothly

Neglecting this can lead to skipped stitches, fabric jams, and uneven feeding—a quilter’s nightmare! Stay on top of cleaning for flawless quilting.

Replacing Feed Dogs

To keep your machine in top condition, you’ll need to replace worn or damaged feed dogs. Removing the old ones is simple – just unscrew them. Installing new feed dogs is equally straightforward – align them properly and tighten the screws. Periodic feed dog replacement guarantees smooth fabric feeding and prevents skipped stitches or uneven quilting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you drop feed dogs when using a walking foot?

You can drop the feed dogs when using a walking foot, but it’s not necessary for straight-line quilting. Dropping them gives you more control over fabric movement, especially for tight curves and complex designs.

Can a walking foot feed a dog?

No, a walking foot doesn’t feed the fabric itself. It evenly grips the top and bottom layers, moving in sync with the feed dogs underneath to prevent fabric shifting during quilting or sewing thick materials.

Can you use a feed dog for free motion quilting?

Let’s say you’re tackling an intricate quilt pattern with tight curves. For free-motion quilting, you’ll want to drop those feed dogs down for increased fabric control and maneuverability. This gives you the freedom to move and stitch as you desire, creating beautiful designs without restriction.

Should I Feed my Dog after a walk?

You’ll probably want to give your pup a drink and let them rest after a walk. Dogs can work up an appetite and get thirsty from the exercise, so taking care of their needs is important.

Can a walking foot be used with embroidery?

No, you can’t use a walking foot for embroidery. Walking feet are designed for straight-stitch quilting and move only back and forth. For intricate embroidery designs, you’ll need an embroidery foot that allows full freedom of movement.

What materials work best with a walking foot?

You’ll want to use a walking foot when quilting thick or layered materials like batting, multiple fabric layers, or highly-textured fabrics. It keeps everything feeding evenly and prevents shifting or distortion.

How do I attach a walking foot properly?

Attaching a walking foot is simple – just snap it onto your machine’s ankle. But don’t worry if it seems tricky at first; mastering new techniques takes practice. Slowly lower it until the metal bar hugs your fabric, then start stitching confidently.

Can a walking foot damage my machine?

No, a walking foot won’t damage your machine if used properly. It’s designed for quilting and moves with the feed dogs for even fabric feeding. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be quilting like a pro!

What stitch length is recommended for walking foot?

For walking foot quilting, you’ll typically want a short stitch length between 5-0mm. This provides tight, secure stitches that prevent shifting or puckering on those thicker quilted layers.


Like a quarterback orchestrating the offense, your feed dogs and walking foot are a well-rehearsed team. By keeping the feed dogs up when using a walking foot, you harness their combined power for precise quilting stitches.

Practice makes perfect, so master this dance – your quilts will thank you with professional results worthy of the end zone. Remember, do you drop the feed dogs when using a walking foot? Not if you want flawless stitching!

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.