Walking Foot for Sewing: The Complete Guide

Cut And Sew Contract Manufacturers

Tired of wrestling with slippery fabrics or finding multi-layer sewing projects a daunting task? Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a novice with a sewing machine, a walking foot attachment might just be the solution you’ve been searching for.

What Is a Walking Foot Machine and How Does It Work?

A walking foot is an attachment that you add to a sewing machine to provide an extra set of feed dogs. 

Feed dogs on a sewing machine are the components that pull or “feed” the fabric through the machine as you work on it. They’re typically located beneath the presser foot, looking like toothed rods that move forward, down, back, and up in line with the needle’s movement.

A walking foot is simply an additional presser foot that allows you to feed fabric into the machine from the top, not just the bottom. With its teeth, the walking foot grabs onto the fabric in sync with the gripping action of the original presser foot.

Mounting a walking foot onto your sewing machine is equivalent to having a machine with a dual-feed feature

Why Use a Sewing Foot for Sewing?

Imagine you’re sewing a single layer or a couple of layers of fabric. In this case, only one set of feeder dogs is likely enough to handle the work.

But what if you’re sewing more than two layers of thick fabric? Or what if you’re working with a particularly slippery or sticky fabric like chiffon or silk?

In such cases, you need the added control advantage of having an extra set of feed dogs on your sewing machine. This will help you manage fabric layers more easily without worrying about the top layer misaligning or slipping.

A walking foot is also an ideal attachment if you’re often concerned with pattern matching on your projects. It can also serve you well when working with lightweight fabrics to avoid stretching.

What’s more, some walking foot models are equipped to help with decorative and zigzag stitches. 

When Is Using a Walking Foot a Good Idea?

You’re now probably wondering about specific sewing scenarios in which a walking foot would come in handy. 

Here are a few examples:

Mastering Slippery Fabrics

Vinyl, satin, velvet, and leather, these fabrics are notorious for their slippery nature when introduced to a standard sewing machine. Prevent fabric misalignment and damage from pinning with the help of a walking foot.

Taming Troublesome Straps

Have you ever faced the frustration of ripples on your bag straps or clothing articles? Discover how a walking foot keeps fabric layers moving smoothly, even when you change your stitching direction.


Unlike decorative stitching or free-motion quilting, quilting using a sewing machine means going in a straight line. This can be a challenge as the layers have to stay together throughout the process.

A walking foot can help prevent pleats and puckering by keeping the top layer in place, so you don’t have to deal with it slipping ahead of the bottom and middle layers. This is especially valuable when you switch up your quilted lines’ direction.

A walking foot is also practical for SID (stitching in the ditch) when you’re sewing in tricky spots by the seam line or even the seam itself.

Knit or Stretch Fabric

Knits are also known as stretch fabric because that’s what they do when you start working on them with a presser foot involved. As the bottom layer is pushed through the feed dogs, the top layer stretches.

Using a walking foot provides extra grip for the top layer, allowing both the top and bottom layers to feed through the machine at the same pace for even results.

Multi-Layer Sewing

Even if you’re using a relatively easy fabric to work with, uneven gliding issues are likely to occur as long as your project is multi-layered. 

Examples include handbags, tote bags, purses, wallets, and soft luggage.

Relying only on the original presser foot isn’t enough to keep the top layer from gliding ahead of the bottom layers. However, adding a walking foot to your setup will do the trick.

Matching Elements

If your project involves creating matching plaids, stripes, patterns, or any other element, then it’s a good time to use a walking foot. This attachment will keep your layers perfectly aligned. 

Binding and Hems

Sewing on hems, bindings, or folded layers of fabric requires feeding them through the machine at an even pace to keep them smooth and looking professional. A walking foot is ideal for this job.

Steps to Use a Walking Foot for Sewing

If you’re set on adding a walking foot to your sewing machine setup, the following steps will get you familiar with the process:

  1. Detach the shank of the presser foot.
  2. Attach the walking foot claw to the needle bar.
  3. Fasten the shank back, making sure to tighten the screws.
  4. Start sewing!

Should You Use a Walking Foot All the Time?

While it’s quite practical in the scenarios we discussed above, a walking foot can slow down your sewing a bit.

It’s meant for straight-line sewing, so it can lower your sewing speed even more if you use it to sew curves or angles.

Final Thoughts

In summary, a walking foot attachment serves as an invaluable addition to your sewing toolkit, especially when you’re dealing with tricky fabrics or multi-layered projects. Its enhanced grip and control can elevate the quality of your sewing, making challenging tasks a whole lot easier.