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Can you use a walking foot for more than just straight stitching?

A reader asks...

I just got my Janome convertible even feed foot set to use on my Janome HD3000.

Anywhere I find information on a walking foot only mentions using a straight stitch.

Can I use a small width zig zag stitch with a walking foot? I make pet beds, and want to use the walking foot to zig-zag stitch key points on the beds so they can be washable. The batting I use is a very thick polyester batting---1 inch +.

Julie replies...

Yes, you can use your walking foot for more than straight stitching.

A zig-zag stitch should be just fine because all the movement in the stitch pattern is forward. In fact many of the decorative stitches on your sewing machine are just fine to use with your even feed foot installed.

The only types of stitches that I'd hesitate to use are ones with a lot of forwards and backwards motions—that is unless I had thoroughly tested them on a practice quilt sandwich first.

The part of your question that I'm not so sure about is the 1"+ thick batting. Is it Mountain Mist's Fatt Batt perhaps?

[Click here for more information in the article, "Quilt Batting 101"]

Fatt Batt is a 100% polyester batting with a loft 1/2" to 5/8". The manufacturer indicates that it can be either tied or quilting up to 4" apart. (I've used Fatt Batt in a handful of flannel couch quilts. All of them tied with perle cotton. I did not attempt nor plan to machine quilt them.)

Different quilt battings have different loft
Fatt Batt polyester (left), Hobb's Wool Batting (center),
Quilter's Dream Cotton (right)

Initial machine settings

You've indicated that your batting is even thicker. So...

Test it first so see what setting you'll need to adjust. Because of its thickness, I believe you'll need to increase your stitch length. You may also need to reduce the amount of pressure on the presser foot and possibly reduce your tension.

Adjust each individually. Change a bit and test. Change a bit and test until you're satisfied with the resulting stitches. If this will be an ongoing project, write down your settings, threads, and fabrics to save time later.

If you can machine quilt with this thicker batting, I'd be basting the living daylights out of it to help squash it down and hold things together. That amount of loft in the batting gives the quilt sandwich a lot of wiggle room. Extra basting should help tame that. But only some testing will tell for sure.

I hope this has helped.

Readers, you are welcome and encouraged to share your thought using the 'Comments' link below. Thank you.


Julie Baird

Comments for Can you use a walking foot for more than just straight stitching?

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Janome s7
by: Anonymous

When u putt the walking foot on dont hit the walking foot icon because it grays out everything but straight stitches. As u pointed only do stitches that move forward. No back and forth.

I machine bind my quilts with a walking foot using a small blanket stitch shadowed.

Overcast stitch
by: Anonymous

Can I use an overcast stitch with a walking foot?

From the Editor: As long as the foot is always moving forward I think you should be's when the foot tries to move backward that it can get all kinds of crazy.

~ Julie

Blanket Stitch with Walking Foot
by: Sue

Can I use a walking foot with a narrow(1/8") blanket stitch, not the one that goes backward and is heavy looking?

From the Editor: Sue, my educated guess would be yes—as long as the stitch is not forcing the feed dogs backwards and forwards.


Julie B

by: Lmiz

Can I stipple stitch with a walking foot? My machine is to old to get a darning foot OR a stippling foot.

From the Editor:

Unfortunately, you can't free motion quilt with your walking foot on. The reason is that the walking foot is, in essence, another set of feed dogs. Those feed dogs grab and pull the quilt sandwich through your machine from front to back. However, when you stipple you move the sandwich in all directions—from side to side and back to front̬the feed dogs fight you all the way.

If you can't find a generic darning or stippling foot for your machine, you might be able to find a spring needle.

Schmetz Spring Needle
Schmetz Spring Neelde

The foot is completely removed from the machine and the spring on the needle helps to hold the fabric for just a quick bit to make the stitch. Without a quilting foot on your machine, pay carefull attention to your hands and don't want to stitch through them.

I hope this helps.

~ Julie

Walking foot
by: Ida

Just the information I was looking for.
Thank you.

From the Editor:

You are most welcome, Ida. Glad to be of help.

~ Julie

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