Walk Your Stitches Right Out of the Ditch: Fresh Ideas for Quilting with a Walking Foot

DSC00174I’ve been working on a few samples for classes that I will be teaching this fall. One of the quilts is small, minimal in design, and has lots of creamy background fabric in Robert Kaufman’s Kona Cotton. I had a bit of inspiration from a quilt that I have admired for some time by the talented Stacey Sharman of Peppermint Pinwheels.

Stacey Sharman
What a beautiful quilt, Stacey!  Stitch Modern Flicker

 I love the quilted texture that evolves in the background of Stacey’s quilt. I had this quilt in mind while I was piecing my little quilt – so I left a lot of open background to play. Off I went, walking foot in hand . . .

DSC00175       DSC00171

DSC00172        DSC00186

Well, that was fun! Ready for it’s new home at Thimble Creek for their fall class schedule.

Spending the day playing with my walking foot piqued my curiosity. You are probably figuring out by now that I have an interest in the history of anything quilty. I found myself on Google, to see what I could find.

PicMonkey Collage

What exactly is a walking foot? It’s a presser foot with built-in feed dogs that grip and advance the upper layer of your fabric to move in unison with the underside fabric, keeping the layers from shifting apart as you sew. It’s great for pucker-free, straight line machine quilting, sewing together multiple layers, and–my favorite–sewing a binding to a quilt.


The walking foot is kind of the ugly duckling in our sewing tool box, isn’t it? It’s clunky, awkward-looking, and as far as I can see,  it has not made many innovative design leaps over the years. What has changed is the way we use it.

As Serendipity Patchwork wrote, “Quarter inch (or less) quilting with the walking foot.
Up and down, up and down, up and down…”

Today’s quilters are pushing it further and further out of the box to create beautiful patterns, textures and designs for their work. Let’s look at a few . . .

Some beautiful sample sheets I found on Sew Generously.

It’s amazing how contemporary an old technique can look with a little creativity!

Stacey Sharman shared  samples of a workshop by Mary Mashuta in her blog, On The Design Wall .

Looks like Stacey had a fun play day with her walking foot.

Another sample by Stacey Sharman on techniques taught by Mary Mashuta.

I love the use of red thread!! It really shows off the different stitch designs.

Flock of Starlings by Terri Carpenter of The Quilted Fox
Terri 6
Back Detail of Invader Cupcakes by Terri Carpenter

Wonderful work Terri! Thanks for sharing!

Pipin Siquim has a great tutorial on how to do this.

Orange Peels! Wow! Wouldn’t you love to try this?

Here’s a whimsical pattern from Squiltz.

This would make a fabulous border. A great way to add movement and personality.

Another fun example by Squiltz.

Now we all know this is a lot harder than it looks.

Beautiful work by Canoe Ridge Creations.

This would definitely take some patience!

We All Sew has given me lots of ideas with this one!

This is simply beautiful. Very creative.

I hope that I have inspired you to pull that funny looking foot out of your tool box and include it in a play day. Keep us posted on what you discover!

There are a some great resources for you to explore further. I wish I would have discovered these before tackling my project!

31  Petite Design Co. – 31 Days of Walking Foot Quilting.

Made By Rae –  What is a Walking Foot?

So Crafty on Squidoo – What Can You Do With A Walking Foot?

Dog Named Banjo – Bernina 440 Walking Foot

Canoe Ridge Creations – Straight Line Quilting

Books you may want to explore:

Mary Mashuta’s Foolproof Machine Quilting

For Dummies Machine Quilting Tips and Tricks

Maurine Noble’s Machine Quilting Made Easy.

Signature Cropped


11 thoughts on “Walk Your Stitches Right Out of the Ditch: Fresh Ideas for Quilting with a Walking Foot

  1. I love it. I’m one of those who just struggle too much with free motion quilting. I am left wondering and maybe someone could advice me. I use a generic walking foot for my Brothers machine. I am unable to afford a top of the line machine. I know certain walking foots like Berdina that allows for more decorative stitching. Does anyone know if the Brothers brand walking foot would give me more options. Thank You and Thanks for the great site,


    1. Hi Gail – I wish I had some answers for you. Unfortunately I have not worked with Brothers sewing machines. Good luck on finding some answers. So glad you like our blog.


  2. I am branching out in my top stitching FMQ’ing. I meander usually, but recently trying to work with the walking foot. I haven’t seen it does to much difference than the regular all purpose foot, other than maybe manage the fabric a bit better with pucker issues. I hear so mych praise about the W foot, I want to work more with it. HOpefully I will learn why it is praised so much! Thanks for the info

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome aboard See How We Sew! Thank you for writing about the walking foot. I have quilted several quilts with mine. I love the clean look that can be achieved. Your photos and links have inspired me!


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