Skip to Content

When to Use a Walking Foot for Matching Prints or Quilting Full Guide of 2023

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

why and when to use a walking foot on your sewing machineHere you go, I hope this works for the introduction:

You’ve heard that using a walking foot helps when matching prints or quilting, but is that really true? Let’s investigate.

As a sewer, you know that your machine’s feed dogs pull the fabric through as you sew. A walking foot has its own set of feed dogs that work in tandem with the machine’s to feed the top and bottom layers together at the same pace.

This prevents slipping between the layers, making the walking foot ideal for sewing slippery or thick fabrics.

It’s also great for matching prints—the even feeding keeps the stripes, plaids, or other patterns matched perfectly across seams. Quilters swear by the walking foot too since it prevents layers from shifting while quilting.

Read on to get the details on how and when to use your walking foot to achieve professional results in your sewing and quilting projects. Controlling your materials and truly mastering this handy presser foot will give you satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

  • A walking foot prevents slipping and distortion of fabric.
  • The dual feed pulls fabric evenly with no puckering or stretching.
  • The walking foot is great for slippery, thick fabrics and matches prints by feeding evenly with no shifting or stretching.
  • Adjusting tension and stitch length is important for different fabric types.

Why Use a Walking Foot?

Why Use a Walking Foot
If you have trouble getting multiple-layered quilts or slippery fabrics to consistently feed through your sewing machine, a walking foot can help. This specialized sewing machine foot helps keep your layers moving evenly without distorting prints or distorting edges.

What is a Walking Foot?

You’ll find a walking foot doggedly matches your fabric layers as you stitch. The walking foot has its own feed dogs to grip and advance the top layer of fabric in sync with the machine’s feed dogs below.

This prevents slipping between layers of fabric. Useful for sewing slippery fabrics, knits, and quilting through thick batting. Alternatives like stabilizers work too. The walking foot provides even stitches without hand-guiding.

Benefits of Using a Walking Foot

With a walking foot on your sewing machine, you can wave goodbye to mismatched seams and stretched-out knits.

  1. Match plaids perfectly with even top and bottom thread feeding.
  2. Prevent lightweight knits from becoming distorted as the layers are stitched.
  3. Reinforce thick seams without fabric bunching and slipping.
  4. Tame slippery fabrics like vinyl and satin for smooth sewing.
  5. Keep all the fabric layers together when quilting for precise stitching.

The walking foot’s built-in feed dogs work in unison with the machine’s feed dogs to feed the top and bottom layers evenly. This prevents puckering on knits, slipping on leathers, and mismatching on plaids.

The key is the dual feed action that grips and advances the fabric properly. With a walking foot, you’ll gain better control for superior results on challenging fabrics and multi-layer projects.

When to Use a Walking Foot

When to Use a Walking Foot
When sewing with slippery or thick fabrics, a walking foot can help prevent puckering and misalignment. Matching prints such as plaids, stripes, and other patterns is easier with a walking foot as it provides consistent feeding to keep the layers together.

Sewing Slippery or Thick Fabrics

Sticky silk glides smoothly under the pressure foot. When sewing multiple layers or slippery fabrics, adjusting tensions, threading bobbins, and engaging the feed teeth with the walking foot attachment becomes easy.

Bulky fabrics are managed by maintaining control, thanks to the walking foot’s methodical mastery of fabric feeding perfection.

Matching Plaids, Stripes, and Prints

Matching patterns and prints is a cinch with your walking foot. For example, those cute cat-printed pants you’re making will have perfectly matched stripes down the inseams. Your walking foot grips slippery knits so the kitties line up perfectly when joining those side seams.

Keep the fabric flat and prints matched – no more stretched cats or shifted stripes. Straight stitch with your walking foot for perfectly aligned seams, even on plaid or striped fabric.

Using a Walking Foot for Quilting

Using a Walking Foot for Quilting
A walking foot is crucial for achieving even stitching when quilting to prevent shifting between layers. You will achieve smooth, consistent stitching across your quilt sandwich with a walking foot by keeping the quilt top, batting, and backing perfectly aligned.

Even Stitching on Quilts

Lay smooth seams on your quilt top with it.

  1. Regulate stitch length and tension.
  2. Mark quilting patterns with fabric marking tools.
  3. Stitch carefully following the pattern.

A walking foot creates even stitches across multiple fabric layers in a quilt sandwich. It prevents shifting between the needle, walking foot feed dogs, and machine feed dogs below. This consistency enables straight line quilting or gently meandering patterns. Echo quilting around quilt blocks adds dimension.

Preventing Layers From Shifting

You’re keeping those quilt layers in place as you cruise along. The walking foot’s extra feed dogs grip the quilt top, batting, and backing to prevent slippage. Simply engage the walking foot and align the fabrics. The foot’s built-in guide keeps the layers together, ensuring accurate stitching.

Stitch in the ditch or echo quilt without shifting. With a dual feed system, multiple layers are evenly fed, eliminating puckers on quilts. With the walking foot, no need to pin excessively, the layers are gripped while quilting.

Sewing Apparel With a Walking Foot

Sewing Apparel With a Walking Foot
When sewing apparel with bulky fabric layers or tricky pattern matching, using a walking foot can make the process much easier. To traverse bulky seams without puckering and match intersecting seam allowances precisely, let the walking foot’s feed dogs guide the fabric evenly as you sew.

Traversing Bulky Seams

Yank that bulky seam under the needle, girl, like you’re reeling in a marlin.

  1. Use a walking foot to traverse bulky seams with even pressure.
  2. Keep the pressure foot down as you sew over seams to prevent tunneling.
  3. Set the stitch length slightly longer to allow the bulk to pass smoothly.

The walking foot’s built-in feed dogs ensure even pressure across bulky intersections without tunneling or puckering.

Matching Seam Intersections

Pin those seam intersections before stitching to prevent slipping and keep your pattern matched as you sew.

Intersecting Fabric Pieces:

  • Problem: Vertical seams misalignment causes drag lines.
  • Solution: Pin at a slant to distribute ease.
  • Problem: Darts puckering or unevenness.
  • Solution: Press crease before sewing.
  • Problem: Front placket edges don’t match.
  • Solution: Pin precisely at the center.
  • Problem: Shoulder seams gaping from ease.
  • Solution: Distribute with light gathering.
  • Problem: Straight seams veer off grain.
  • Solution: Use the edge of the presser foot guide.
  • Problem: Sheer fabric layers shift while sewing.
  • Solution: Use silk pins close together.
  • Problem: Interior seams bulk prevents matching.
  • Solution: Grade or trim seam allowances.

Matching intersections precisely provides professional results and prevents headaches later. Master this technique to conquer pattern matching and keep your fabric layers in check.

Tips for Using a Walking Foot

Tips for Using a Walking Foot
Before you begin sewing, take the time to properly adjust your walking foot and set your machine to sew at a slower pace. Going slower gives the walking foot time to smoothly feed the fabric layers through the machine and helps prevent uneven stitches or puckering on projects with thicker fabrics like quilts.

Adjusting the Walking Foot

The tension tweaks the bobbin thread ratio with the upper thread line so the seam sews smooth.

  • Check your machine manual for recommended top tension settings with the walking foot.
  • Adjust the top tension up or down in small increments until balanced stitching is achieved.
  • Slow the sewing speed for better control on slippery fabrics. This prevents stitch skipping.
  • When topstitching bindings or sewing patterned fabrics, go slow to keep edges and lines matched.

Adjusting the walking foot tension and sewing speed allows you to achieve smooth, accurate stitching on your project.

Sewing at a Slower Pace

Ease your pressure on that pedal, babe; savor each stitch as the walking foot glides your quilt layers smoothly as butter. Stitching slowly allows the walking foot feed dogs to grip and advance fabric layers evenly.

Take curves and corners gently. Adjust tension and length settings for optimal stitch formation on fabric type. The walking foot prevents puckers, gathers, and slippage on challenging materials.

Stitch Length Recommended Fabrics Tension
Longer Thick fabrics like denim Loosen top thread
Shorter Thin fabrics like chiffon Tighten top thread
Default Knits, woven cottons Neutral

When Not to Use a Walking Foot

When Not to Use a Walking Foot
You’ll want to switch back to your regular presser foot when sewing curves or using wide decorative stitches with your machine. In those cases, a walking foot can hinder your stitching and control, so rely on other specialized machine feet and techniques to achieve your desired results.

Sewing Curves or Wide Decorative Stitches

You’ll pucker on curves if you don’t switch the walking foot for the regular one. The walking foot works for straight stitching but struggles with wide decorative stitches, curved seams, and free motion machine quilting.

The regular presser foot glides smoothly around curves and provides flexibility for decorative stitching, leatherwork, and slippery fabric gathering. For best results, use the walking foot at a slower pace for straight line quilting and straight seams, and switch to the regular foot when sewing curves or using fancy stitches.

Other Sewing Machine Foot Techniques

Free-motion embroidery dances freely with the darning foot’s nimble glide. For awe-inspiring buttonholes, the one-step buttonhole foot effortlessly forms precise uniformity. When applying bindings, the bias tape foot neatly encases edges with a crisp, professional finish.

Mend tears and holes utilizing an embroidery/darning foot for fiendish repairs. Thoroughly clean built-up lint from the bobbin area with a brush after each project. Using the appropriate foot for your sewing needs brings gratifying results. Knowledge of all foot capabilities empowers seamless sewing mastery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I know if my sewing machine is compatible with a walking foot?

You wonder if that walking foot will fit? First, check your sewing machine’s manual – it’ll tell you the compatible presser feet. If unsure, call the manufacturer’s customer service – they’ll know for sure. Though a universal walking foot may work, your machine may need an exact match for best results.

What are some troubleshooting tips for issues with the walking foot slipping or not feeding fabric properly?

Check that the walking foot is properly attached and the feed dogs are engaged. Slow down your sewing speed, use pins/clips, and gently guide the layers.

Where can I find and purchase a high-quality walking foot for my machine?

You can find high-quality walking feet at specialty sewing stores like your local sewing machine dealer or online retailers like Madam Sew. Carefully check that the walking foot is compatible with your exact sewing machine model before purchasing.

Are there specialty walking feet made just for quilting or garment sewing?

Yes, there are specialty walking feet made specifically for quilting or garment sewing. These feet offer features tailored to those techniques, such as embroidery-style markings for quilt pattern echoing or open toes for better visibility when topstitching.

You can check out brands like Janome or Bernina for quilting, and Pfaff or Husqvarna Viking for garment-focused options.

How can I adjust the presser foot pressure when using a walking foot?

You’ll need to consult your sewing machine’s manual for how to adjust the presser foot pressure. Typically, there is a dial or knob behind or beside the needle area. Turn it to decrease pressure for lightweight fabrics and increase it for heavy fabrics.


After reviewing the many benefits and uses of a walking foot, it’s clear that this handy accessory can help empower your sewing. Whether you’re working with difficult fabrics or want to achieve flawless print matching, a walking foot is an invaluable resource.

Try testing it out on your next quilt binding or knit garment. You may find, like countless fellow sewists, that this game-changing tool yields professional results.

Proper use of a walking foot can help you master precise quilting lines or perfectly patterned apparel. So retrieve that walking foot from your accessory stash and get ready to elevate your projects.

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.