Walking Foot Quilting

A walking foot has long been a staple of many quilters’ toolboxes. The beauty of a walking foot is that it helps to feed the fabric evenly through a domestic sewing machine by working in concert with the feed dogs. This makes them extremely useful for accomplishing long rows of stitches to stabilize your quilt sandwich when you first begin quilting a new project. They also are a wonderful aid for stabilizing the edges of a quilt sandwich, and sewing on binding.

Marianne Haak, who wrote two articles for us about quilt-as-you-go techniques (in our March/April and May/June 2013 issues), recommends using a walking foot for that process as well to keep the layers from shifting as you sew. Her quilt Colour Shot is a beautiful example:

Colour Shot ©Marianne Haak
Colour Shot ©Marianne Haak

Walking foot quilting has recently found a new prominence. It seems that every day I see a new quilt, or books like Walking Foot Quilting Designs by Melissa Marginet or Modern Machine Quilting by Catherine Redford, that features quilting done with the aid of these wonderful accessories. We were lucky to have walking foot expert Jacquie Gering write a two-part series on this type of quilting in our September/October 2015 and November/December 2015 issues of MQU. One of her best tips is to use the markings found on your walking foot to help guide you as you stitch.  As Jacquie says “The markings on the top of the foot allow the quilter to make turns when quilting ¼” or ½” intervals without marking. For example, to turn with a ½” interval, stop when the ½” mark hits the approaching quilting line, drop the needle, turn and the edge of the foot will be ½” from the line you just stitched, so you can continue quilting at a ½” interval. The mark on the outside of the foot will allow the quilter to easily align the foot when echoing curved lines. ”

A BERNINA walking foot is shown below. Your foot may have different markings, but don’t hesitate to add additional markings to your own foot for reference as necessary.

BERNINA Walking Foot
BERNINA Walking Foot

A walking foot is most frequently used to accomplish accurate straight stitching, as in the matchstick quilting shown below.

Deconstructed Nine Patch ©Jacquie Gering from November/December 2015 Machine Quilting Unlimited
Deconstructed Nine Patch ©Jacquie Gering from November/December 2015 Machine Quilting Unlimited

But with practice, it can be used to create a variety of other designs including easy curves and even spirals. I’ve even seen quilters create grid work and orange peel designs this way.

Tipsy City ©Jacquie Gering MQU November/December 2015
Tipsy City ©Jacquie Gering MQU November/December 2015

The gentle curves in Tipsy City help create movement.

Swirling Medallion ©Jacquie Gering
Swirling Medallion ©Jacquie Gering Look at the flow created by these quilting lines!

I love that quilters who might be hesitant to try their hand at free motion quilting can achieve beautiful, professional results with a walking foot. Go ahead, give it a try!

 

 

 

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