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Walking foot stitches aren't consistent

by Jo Beth Steinhaus
(Los Alamos, New Mexico)

I am quilting using the walking foot (#50) on my Bernina 1260.

The top thread is a clear nylon and the bobbin is a cotton thread. The stitch length is very inconsistent, being super close or small at times and then longer here and there. My tension is okay as far as no looping or pulling going on.

Any suggestions?

Thank you!


There are a couple of things that occur to me.

First off, I love using nylon monofilament (YLI or SewArt brands) in the needle and a nice 50wt cotton in the bobbin (Aurifil, Masterpiece or Prescenia). A Microtex Sharp, 70/10, is my needle of choice for this combination and I always need to reduce my tension settings when using this thread. So, so far, so good!

With the stitch length changing there are a couple of possibilities for you to investigate:

  • Is the thread catching somewhere in the path to the needle and then coming 'un-caught'?

    If the thread catches somewhere and doesn't release, sooner or later it should either snap or fray. You may want to try a metal thread stand that sits off to the back (or side) of your sewing machine.

    My monofilament will sometimes wrap itself around the uptake arm which increases the tension. That increased tension causes smaller stitches. Though usually, at some point, the thread will break.

    At a minimum, re-thread your sewing machine.

  • Do the stitches get smaller as you approach and quilt over seam allowances?

    This is a sign that your presser foot pressure is too high.

    As your sewing machine and walking foot try to feed this thicker area of your quilt through, they can't pull in as essence what a single stitch lacks in length it makes up in height because you're stitching through many more layers.

    If you have a presser foot pressure control, reduce the pressure and test until you're satisfied with your quilting stitch.

    If you don't have this control, then as you get to a thicker portion, stop the machine with your needle in the sandwich. Raise and then lower the presser foot by hand.

    This action both removes the tension from the thread by opening the tension disks and allows the quilt sandwich to relax. (You do this same sort of thing to help get rid of a 'bubble' if one appears while you are machine quilting.)

If neither of these suggestions work, take the machine into your dealer for a check-up. There may be an adjustment the sewing machine repairman can make. He will also be able to find any burr along the thread path where the thread may be catching and buff it out.

Let me know if these ideas help.

Readers, you know how frustrating it is when your machine refuses to do what you want. If you have any suggestions, please use the 'Comment' link below to share them. Thank you!


Julie Baird

Comments for Walking foot stitches aren't consistent

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Same Problem
by: Kim

Thanks for the advice re. the tiny stitches problem.

I will try the presser foot tension as well as rethread. My machine is brand new so I suspect it has something to do with my inexperience.

Thanks for lending me yours!

Life changing advice!
by: Ines


It's my first time quilting and I can say that it has been an eventful situation!

I'm on my 3rd walking foot (the 1st one didn't have the right attachment, the 2nd one wasn't compatible with a low-shank sewing machine) and when I thought I was finally all set up, I had the uneven stitch length issue. :D

After many attempts, while twiddling with stitch length and tension, I was about to give up when I saw your so very helpful answer!

I don't have Facebook, but I liked this very much - thank you <3

From the Editor: Hi Ines! I'm so very glad you didn't give up in the face of problem feet. Quilting is and should be, so much fun.

May your future projects be a walk in the park compared to your beginning. You deserve it!


Julie Baird

Bernina quilt stitch changes length
by: Barbara

Hi, I have Bernina 1260 and every time I use the walking foot the stitch length varies from tiny-tiny to large?

I have become very good at unpicking!

I have had my Bernina serviced and the engineer could find nothing wrong??

However I did not think about the walking foot and I am wondering if I have been sold the wrong foot?

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I have three quilts backing up waiting to be quilted.



From the Editor: I would take both back to the dealer/repair shop so that you can show them the problem in person.

I suspect, like you, that it is the foot and not the machine. The only way they'll be able to tell is if they can see it happen.

Good luck!

~ Julie

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