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Bernina Walking Foot Problem

by Donna Smith
(Leesville, LA)

I bought a used Bernina 153QE and it came with a #50 WALKING foot--one sole for quilts and another for plaid matching.

I am not using it right or something.

My top bunches up worse than the bottom. Also worse than if I just used a regular presser foot. I did not get any service because I got the machine used.

I am pretty new to quilting. Should I change the presser foot pressure or drop the feed dogs? I am lost. I just finished without it last time. I got aggravated. The foot is supposed to be helpful. I am sure I just do not use it properly. Any advise will be greatly appreciated. I had to pick out a bunch of stitches because my quilt was all bunched up and I had it pinned down like a hurricane was coming.


Your walking foot should act like a second set of feed dogs on the top of your quilt and make it easier for your sewing machine to pull the quilt sandwich through evenly.

With the clues you have given in your description, I think your problem relates to your walking foot and how it is installed. Let's go through the checklist.

Because they work together, your sewing machine feed dogs must be in the up position. If they are down, the quilt sandwich won't move through your sewing'll just have a wad of thread "throw-up" on the bottom.

Bernina Quilting Walking Foot #50

This foot has the same attachment as other Bernina feet do with one exception. There is a "U" shaped fork that fits onto the needle clamp screw on the right hand side of the needle bar.

This fork must be around the screw to work properly.

Use the "quilting sole" because you'll be able to see better as you stitch in the ditch or follow a line.

Click here to see a quick video for installing the foot on your sewing machine.

Since your quilt sandwich was bunching up so badly, I wonder if the fork was actually under the screw. If it was, then the walking foot would never lift up completely and allow the quilt sandwich to be pulled through your machine.

If that is not the case, install the foot and now, without any fabric turn the hand wheel to make the needle go up and down. The foot should be moving up and down, too. If it is not, then it is probably broken. It does wear out with use. I'm on my third...

The instructions with my quilting foot say to reduce my presser foot pressure. Double check your instructions, because that definitely will gives you just a bit more room to manuever the quilt under the feed dogs.

I hope this helps with your problem.

If it doesn't, I would take it to the closest dealer for their opinion. Remember to bring the foot with you just in case it is broken.

Good Luck to you!


Julie Baird

Comments for Bernina Walking Foot Problem

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Walking foot problems
by: Anonymous

I have an old Bernina 230 that I bought a walking foot for. I also have a Bernina 560. My dealer said it was interchangeable. When I use it it pushes the top material and puckers it. I have really been discouraged. Do I need a new walking foot? That one is really old.

walking foot fail
by: Eileen

The "Feed dogs" on the walking foot do not move either on the machine or off. The u-shaped bar does not move in conjunction with the feed dogs. Can I take the foot apart, does it need oil?

From the Editor: Check the instructions to see if the manufacturer recommends oil. In my 25+ years of quilting, I have never oiled a walking foot, though I have replaced mine many times. Because it's mechanical it can wear out.

If you do oil it, remember to let the machine stitch for a while (doesn't even need to be threaded) on a sample something to get the excess oil out so it doesn't spot your quilting later.

As for taking it apart...again, I've never done that myself. So I would only do it as a last resort because if I can't get it back together, it's done for. No store will take it back in that shape.

I wish I could be of more help.


Julie Baird

Won’t fit
by: Anonymous

I have a Bernina 125s machine and ordered a foot for it. When I put it on my needle keeps hitting the bar on the presser foot and breaking the needle. What’s wrong?

From the Editor: First check your needle position, making sure it's in the center position.

Check to make sure it's made for your foot, or if it's a generic version, that it matches the shank on your sewing machine.

Other than that, I'm at a loss.


Julie Baird

Walking foot problems
by: Carol

I have a Bernini 153 and have used the walking foot quite a bit so I know it's installed correctly. But now the u-shaped fork falls off the needle bar every time I try to sew.

Any suggestions?

From the Editor: If you'd been using this foot for a while and all of a sudden it falls off the screw, I suspect something has broken on it.

If you haven't been using it, but have followed the installation instructions to a 'T', I'm wondering if you may need a longer needle screw for this foot?

I'm a Viking/Juki gal and can only guess at the cause. Maybe our readers will have more insightful information for you.


Julie Baird

Are Bernina walking feet all the same?
by: Anonymous

I have a 930 Record and a180 Artista. Both have walking feet. And now here is a triple sole model. Do these fit all Berninas? I cant find a foot number on either one.

I'm thinking of selling the 180E and buying a 430 Aurora. Would my embroidery unit fit on the 430? Would the walking foot that I have fit?

From the Editor:

I'm a Viking/Juki girl and am unable to give you reliable advice on Bernina parts. My best advice is to ask a Bernina dealer these specific questions. They have the equipment and training on hand to give you the most up-to-date information.

I wish I could be of more help.

~ Julie

Squeaking walking foot
by: Diana S

Mt Bernina walking foot started squeaking a while back. Looking on the directions there is nothing about oiling or where to place oil drops. Otherwise it works well.

Any comments appreciated.


From the Editor:

While I'm not a Bernina owner, I do know that walking feet are mechanical. I would oil the screw(s)—lightly—because any excess you'll have to wipe and work out of the foot.

Then stitch for awhile on a scrap quilt sandwich to help work the oil into the foot and remove the excess.

You can always add more, but it takes time to work out the excess.

Good luck!


Squealing walking foot
by: Kathy

Frustration abounds! It sounds like there is a mouse in the house when I use my walking foot!

Took it to my local dealer, I am guessing he oiled it?, charged me for his service, and it worked for a short time.

Now we are back to "squeal". My husband oils it almost every time I use it, but it still won't stop squealing.


Thank you in advance!

Walking foot problem
by: Carol Gatti

I have a Bernina 1090 and I'm pretty sure I used my walking foot on this machine before but it does seem to work.

After installing, the needle doesn't hit but will not go up and down. Basically won't move. Appears to be hitting a screw with arm that holds foot in place. Can you tell me if walking foot is compatible with 1090 or did I use with other machine.

Also have embroidery machine by Bernina.

From the Editor: Unfortunately, without seeing the machine in person I can't tell if you have the correct foot or not.

I suggest first removing the walking foot. Then grab the instruction sheets and reinstall, closely following the steps in the instructions. Sometimes missing just the smallest detail can make all the difference in the world. (I've learned this through experience and a lot of wasted time.)

Also, double check that there's not a different screw to be used with the walking foot. On my older Viking it came with both a short and long one. Which one I used depended on the foot I installed.

If that fails, I would call a Bernina dealer with the part or model number of the foot in hand. They should be able to:
  • Confirm it is or isn't the correct foot, and...

  • Point you in the direction of one that will work if needed.

I wish I could be of more help.


Julie Baird

Think it's broke
by: Anonymous

I have an old bernina 1080 that I love! I've used the walking foot extensively - quilting, special fabrics, etc. Last night, all of the sudden the fork that should move easily is basically almost 'frozen'. I put a little sewing machine oil where the fork comes out of, but nothing.

Any other thoughts?

Or did I wear it out?

From the Editor:

I can personally vouch for the fact that you can wear out walking feet. I've worn out three of them so far, and Viking's are expensive little monsters to replace.

Yes, I suspect you've worn it out.


Julie Baird

Bernina Walking Foot Problem
by: Anonymousdot b

My question has not been answered as far as I have read. My question was "My bernina walking foot makes a clanking or clicking sound with every stitch." All works well, no bunching etc. Just that that clanking tells me something is wrong.

Can anyone help.

From the Editor: If it has always made that sound and the stitches are fine, then I would bring it up with my repairman at your machine's next cleaning.

In the meantime, I would hand walk the machine through several stitches and see where in the stitch cycle the sounds is occurring. What I'm wondering is if the sound is because the fork or arm that creates the motion in the foot is hitting the needle bar as part of the cycle. Metal on metal will make some sound.

If the sound is new, then I'd take it in to the repairman. I'd rather pay to fix a small problem than a large one.


Julie Baird

Walking foot
by: Pat

My walking foot was definitely attached correctly. Claudia and still had the problem. I had to pay for it to be 'repaired' in the end as I was told it was broken - had not used it very much and the repair cost as much as buying a new foot.

How I got my walking foot to work
by: Anonymous

I have a Bernina 1008 and I bought a used genuine Bernina walking foot off of Ebay. I had the same bunching that you all are talking about. Finally I took the walking foot apart to see how it works.

Now, I'm not recommending you do this, but since it didn't work anyway, I thought, what the heck.

I figured out how it works and I did clean it with WD-40, because it is old, thinking that might be part of the problem. I took it apart and put it back together a few times and watched how it operated and I was sure there was nothing broken inside and that all the springs are intact.

What I did notice is that the foot has to "hop" so that the rubber feet can pop forward with each stitch and my walking foot was not raising high enough for the feet to pop forward. Finally, I put the hooked bar that is supposed to go around the needle bar screw ABOVE and resting atop the needle bar screw and VOILA! it works.

In conclusion, I don't think any of the tinkering I did inside made any difference to the operation, it was the bar issue all along.

I did, however, discover something.

I also took apart a generic walking foot from my old Viking that no longer works and I can tell you that there is a world of difference between the real deal Bernina and the generic. The generic fell apart into pieces (plastic) and I couldn't put it back together again there were so may pieces.

I hope this helps those of you with the "bunching" problem. Now if I could find one of those hoop things that holds the seam guides...


Walking foot problem
by: Anonymous

I have a 1530 and a 1000 series walking foot. I set the pressure to 3, checked that the foot is installed properly, it is. Unless I pull the fabric from the back, the stitches are teeny tiny. Is there something I can do to correct this problem?

Bernina walking foot alternatives
by: Holly

Hello Donna,

I heard that I should use a walking foot on my Bernina Activa 125 so that I can sew a swimsuit with a knit material.

The nearest Bernina shop is over an hour away and the Walking Foot #50 is well over $100.

Is there an alternative to Bernina's walking foot? I see that there are shank adaptors and other companies that make universal walking feet.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated.


Walking Foot
by: Pat

I am also having problems with my walking foot on my Bernina Artista 630. the quilt is just not moving forward without my pulling the fabric from behind. If I don't it will just stitch in one spot. Has anyone any ideas please?

Walking foot
by: Anonymous

My walking foot definitely is installed properly, but I get the same problem. Any other ideas? I can't change the foot pressure on my machine, it's too basic a model.

Bernina Walking Foot
by: Anonymous

YEP! that did it. I had the foot on there correctly. So, I dropped the pressure foot pressure two notches and it worked perfectly this time I saw the article where you discussed your Pfaff presser foot pressure and walking foot issues so I tried that reduced pressure and viola! This machines feed dogs work great without a walking foot. Maybe a little too great and I think the added feed dog action of the walking foot was just a bit too much. Thanks for the help Donna

walking foot
by: Anonymous

Any time your walking foot is bunching the top fabric it is because it is not installed correctly with the u-shaped fork over the needle bar. If you do that, everything should be fine. Claudia W.

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