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Keeping my quilting stitches even using my walking foot...

by Teresa
(Newark, DE)

I'm having trouble keeping my stitches the same size when I'm quilting using my walking foot. I'm quilting straight lines, but it's really hard to keep the stitches the same size in the line, some are bigger and others are small. What am I doing wrong?

Reply

It's probably not 'doing something wrong', but more like 'missed a step' in set up.

Check the instructions that came with your walking foot. In particular, you're looking for a presser foot pressure setting. If you can adjust this setting on your sewing machine, there will be a recommended pressure setting when this quilting foot is installed and used. It'll be something less than what the setting is for daily stitching or piecing because you are quilting over several layers of fabric plus batting.

If your machine is older and/or doesn't make this adjustment, all is not lost.

Examine your quilting stitches. Are they irregular ALL the time or just some of the time?

If it's all the time check to see that you're foot is moving up and down while stitching. If not...

  • Check that it's is properly installed. If you don't use a walking foot often, it's easy to miss a step in installation...particularly that the fork or arm of the foot fits over or on top of the needle screw...

  • Make sure it's not broken. I've had to buy three walking feet for my machine. These feet having moving parts that can either wear out from use (that's two of my replacement feet) or break from improper storage (I actually broke after being a bit too rough in how I stored it).

    To check if it's broken, hold the walking foot in your hand and gently move the arm or fork up and down. The feed dogs on the foot should move. If there's no movement, the foot is likely broken. Replace it.
If your walking foot (aka even feed foot) is properly installed and your quilting stitches are only irregular sometimes, then check to see if it's when you stitch over the seam joins. The thickness of your quilt sandwich increases at these joins...the centers of pinwheels and stars can get really thick. Flannels and homespun fabrics can create pretty big lumps even in just a four patch pattern.

If this is the cause of your problem, there are a couple of solutions...

  • Stitch slower as you approach these joins. As soon as the stitches start to change, then stop. Take a stitch at a time and help the machine feed the sandwich through. If you're stitching in the ditch, you're going to half to plow through these bulky spots to get the quilting down.

  • Hand walk your machine. That literally means turning the wheel by hand to create each stitch as you guide the machine. I don't recommend doing this for long because, quite frankly, it's boring and slow. But it will help you 'feel' what your sewing machine is going through.

  • Avoid these bulkier spots. That probably means going to free motion quilting and it will take a bit of practice to get comfortable with it. My long-arm quilting friend won't stitch through the joins in flannel quilts because the lumpiness always makes her needle jump. So she just avoids the joins altogether. Period.
If none of these suggestions is works for you and your stitches are irregular all the time, then if it was my sewing machine, I'd take it to my dealer for a check up. Make sure to bring your walking foot and samples of the problem with you so they've got enough information to work with.

I hope this has been of help to you.

Readers, if you have other suggestions, please add them using the 'Comment' link below.

Piecefully,

Julie Baird
Editor

Comments for Keeping my quilting stitches even using my walking foot...

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Uneven stitches
by: Shari T

I, too, am having difficulty with uneven stitches. When I make a quilt sandwich with the fabrics that I am using in my quilt top as a sample, all of the stitches are uniform. The sample is only 6" by 15". But when I try to quilt on the quilt top, some stitches are a normal length and some are very tiny.

Is there an art to quilting on a quilt top?

From the Editor: Given that the quilting on your practice piece looks uniform, I suspect that it may be with how you are moving the quilt sandwich.

Make sure the entire quilt sandwich is supported everywhere. That is doesn't have a chance to unexpectedly fall off the table and pull on the sandwich. That would affect your stitch length.

Let your walking foot do the work. If you let it, it will pull the quilt through the sewing machine. You are simply the guide. If you feel a pull as you quilt, stop immediately. Reorganize the quilt so it's totally supported.

When you go over seams or other bulky areas, slow down a bit to keep the machine moving as evenly as possible. Sometimes when you quilt over those bumps the stitches aren't quite as even.

I honestly don't think it's a machine problem from what you've told me. But if it continues, I'd bring a sample to demonstrate the problem to your repairman.

I hope this helps.

Piecefully,

Julie Baird


Walking foot...oil it!!!
by: QwerkyChik

Sometimes it does help if you put a bit of sewing machine oil on a q-tip and touch it to the mechanical parts. It may have lint or dust...sometimes it can even just be a bit stiff.

The oil also helps get rid of that darn clanking sound the walking foot makes. Just be sure to wipe off the extra oil before sewing.

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