Learning about my walking foot

If you use a walking foot already, you may be surprised to learn that I never tried walking foot quilting until a couple of days ago. Now, I’m kicking myself, because it’s amazingly easy! But for a long time, I felt very intimidated by the idea of a walking foot.

Turns out, it’s just as easy as pie. I signed up for a Jacquie Gering class on Craftsy called “Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot”, and discovered that walking foot quilting is simply a matter of putting on the foot. There is almost nothing more to it than that. You have to make certain your quilt sandwich is well basted, like any other type of quilting, so you don’t get puckers. You have to take it easy with the speed — don’t race. Keep the weight of the quilt up, so it doesn’t drag on the needle. But otherwise, you just sew!

First walking foot sample - frontMoreover, you don’t have to simply straight stitch. If you have a machine with stylin’ stitches, you can pick one of those. Again, make sure you’re going slowly, so you don’t put too much strain on the needle. Here’s a pic of the first thing I quilted using my walking foot. It’s just a little sample made from cut-offs from another quilt. I didn’t want to quilt it with a straight line, because that would emphasize the fact that the pieces aren’t all the same size: so I followed Jacquie Gering’s advice, and selected an S stitch from my specialty stitch list. Unlike Jacquie’s Bernina, my Janome wouldn’t let me stretch the pattern too much, so my S’s look pretty zig-zaggy. Here’s a picture from the back:

First walking foot sample - back

I want to tell you about the fabric I used on the back. It’s from a dog scarf. I had my dog groomed one time at the local doggy daycare, and he came home with a “scarf” — a large, bright triangle of cotton tied around his neck. It was kind of cute fabric, I thought, so I washed it and put in my stash! Anyway, that’s why you see the little triangle pieced in the top right corner: the bottom left corner was the point of the scarf, and I had to add a bit to the top to make it rectangle-shaped. 🙂 Anyway, that’s my first little walking foot sample, and I thought it would make a good Christmas mat for a table somewhere.

First walking foot quilt - baby quiltOnce I realized how incredibly easy it was to walking-foot quilt, I was anxious to quilt something from my growing pile of finished tops. I decided to start with a scrappy baby quilt I made earlier this year. I used the same S stitch as above, but used the guide bar on my machine to space the rows 1″ apart. I also followed Jacquie’s advise to try mixing it up by quilting on the diagonal. So that’s what you see above — start in the middle, quilt row by row out to one side, then return to the middle and quilt out to the other side, and done!

Next up will be, I think, some straight line quilting. I have a few more quilt tops I’d like to get finished!

Now, don’t think that this discovery of walking-foot quilting means that I’m giving up on free-motion quilting! I’m not. But I know my FMQ needs more practice before I want to tackle a “good” quilt, and I have a few good quilts that want quilting. Moreover, I can easily imagine doing a combination of WFQ and FMQ — they both offer great and creative ways to approach quilting.

Next problem to tackle — finding a place in my house to baste a large quilt that isn’t covered with dog hair!

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