This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation

Machine quilting: stitch length keeps changing


I am straight stitching (in the ditch) and am following your instructions for beginning with the microstitch and then switching to a longer stitch, etc. but my stitch length is all over the place. First it's long, then short, then long again.

Since I am manually setting the stitch length, why is this happening?


If your machine was working correctly, i.e. the stitch length was 'stable' and not changing as you were stitching your seams, there's a good chance it's your walking foot.

This is really basic, but I suggest re-installing it.

Grab the instructions that came with the foot and go step by step just to make sure one wasn't missed. In particular, look for a step about changing the presser foot pressure setting.

Older sewing machines may not have one. The newer ones probably do. If the pressure setting is too high, the walking foot may be having a problem getting over the extra thickness created by seam allowances. Take a look at the problem areas...are they thicker? If that's the case, then it's most likely this setting or lack of setting.

If you don't have a pressure setting for your presser foot, then as you approach these thicker areas, slow down (because you know it's coming) and gently help your machine go over them. This can be as simple as stopping with the needle down in the fabric (to hold things in place) and raising and lowering the presser foot and then continuing to stitch. Repeating as necessary to get over the thicker part.

You may also need to 'help' the machine get through these parts with a bit of guidance from behind the needle to help pull the fabric through. Gentle is the operative word. If you 'yank' it, you lose control.

Check also as you re-install that the arm or fork of your walking foot sits on top of or around the needle screw. When I taught machine quilting, I see some of the strangest things happen when it's improperly installed. So going step by step through the installation directions just to be sure.

It still isn't working...

If you've reinstalled your walking foot and the stitches still vary, then switch to your regular presser foot. Do some practice stitching on some fabric with some seams in it.

Set for microstitches. Stitch a few. Then set for a regular, longer stitch. Be sure to stitch over some seams. (There's no batting for this practice bit, we're just trying to narrow down the problem.)

If there is no problem--the stitch length isn't changing back and's got to be your walking foot. I'd take it back to the dealer...perhaps it's the wrong one for your machine.

If the stitches are changing with your regular piecing foot...then your machine needs to be seen by the repairman.

I hope it's just that the foot isn't installed quite much better than losing your machine for a bit so close to the end of your project.


Julie Baird

Comments for Machine quilting: stitch length keeps changing

Click here to add your own comments

Industrial Cut to Length Machine
by: Radheykrishan

Thank you for your sharing. I want to post quickly but I do not know the way. Your article helps me, thank you so much

Click here to add your own comments

Return to GQP's Quilting Forum.

This article was printed from

Print Article

Follow Us