What I’ve been up to. And my new toy: the walking foot.

Morning chickens! I’m up and bleary eyed, having spent the weekend working, sewing and rooting about in my garden. What with the wedding-quilt project and the procrastination-induced mad gardening frenzy, I’m still low on the blog fodder, but I’ve got a bit for you!

Most exciting for me is my new toy – a walking foot! I was hoping to not have to get one for this quilting project. Mostly because I’m cheap. But my boss, Nikol, she of much quilting expertise, encouraged me to get one and I like to listen to those wiser than I am. Also, Most of my quilt backing is silk and a lot of my quilt strips are silk, so I was anticipating some problems keeping the layers under control. Here it is!

I hope you like the shot framing, including Mr. Bug’s American flag, some fine morning sunshine and a ton of fuzz!!

The Mechanics of a walking foot

OK. Walking feet. Why they exist and why even NON-quilters should get one… Most sewing machines – at least the ones us home sewists are using – draw fabric through and under the presser foot by the action of the feed dogs – those little metal ridged things under the presser feet. I’ve made one of my super-nice drawings with a pink arrow pointing out the feed dogs. They move in a circular motion which grabs onto the fabric and lugs it on through.

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Since the feed dogs move and the presser foot doesn’t, the layers of fabric will move under the presser foot at slightly different rates. The layer closest to the feed dogs moves faster, the layer closest to the presser foot moves slower. This can cause wrinkling and bunching, especially when sewing long, straight seams or annoying, slippery fabrics. Most of us compensate for this by swearing and holding the fabric taut, which will ease those wrinkles away.

A walking foot has moving parts that help move the top layer of fabric along at the same rate as the bottom fabric. I’m not 100% sure of the mechanics, but here are the basics. First, this is a foot that has to be attached by a screw – not the nice little push-button action that a lot of feet use. I have a standard Singer machine and my walking foot came from the Viking dealer inside Joann’s – just a regular generic foot.

The action of the foot rather cleverly makes use of the screw that secures the needle – see the metal arm I’ve indicated with the pink arrow below? You just sort of line up the whole contraption with the two screws and tighten (only the screw above, not this one) and you’re set.

It’s sort of hard to take photos to show how the monster works, but I’ve tried. There are two parts – the white plastic part and the metal foot part. Here, the needle is partway down and the plastic parts are pressed into the fabric.

Here the needle is all the way down and the white plastic pieces have moved into an upright position. The plastic pieces move in a circular motion which draws the fabric through in the same way as the metal feed dogs. You can see in this photo how the plastic pieces are ridged to help grab onto the fabric.

Here’s a 10 second clip showing the feed dogs at work. I’ve finally braved the user-side of You Tube, ya’ll. Get ready for endless videos of Lucy playing with socks!

;Walking feet for garment sewing

I assume most of you are primarily interested in garment sewing and just putting up with my foray into quilting with slight annoyed bemusement. These walking feet are helpful to all you annoyed hens as well! Since it moves both layers of fabric at the same rate, imagine the possibilities while sewing charmeuse or super-thick fabrics such as boucle! I’m also looking forward to trying it out for my own personal sewing demon – matching plaids and lining up sideseams. No matter how well I pin and sew slowly, I can never quite get those waistband seams to line up perfectly with sides of my skirts and trousers!

As a last note, you may have seen these giant feet for sale in bags with a bunch of other metal bars. Those bars are probably seam guides – attachments you stick in to the side of the feet to nicely sew lots of parallel seams without having to mark them in any way – here’s a picture I swiped from somewhere (I closed the window and can’t find it again!) showing the general idea – see how that little side extension is following along with the already-stitched seamline?? I can’t really think of any non-quilting application unless you were doing a ton of decorative top stitching on something. But it’s nice to know what all those strange bars and pieces are, isn’t it?

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Sneak Peeks!

As I said, I’ve been working away on my quilt. So far I’ve finished the pieces and basted – thanks to Ashley, author of excellent quilting blog Film in the Fridge for her inspiration and tutorial on using 505 spray adhesive for making the basting process WAY less painful than the safety pin riddled process I remember. I’ve finished almost half of the quilting – just simple straight lines a bit away from the seamlines. It takes forever!! I’m pretty pleased with the quilt so far – there’s lots of silk, flannel, a bit of wool and leather and even some hand stitchery with silk yarn!!

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And I’ve been spending a lot of time with my other love, gardening. Yesterday I finally finished most of the spring rearranging and planting, clean up, patio arranging and Mr. Bug helped with my least favorite gardening task, putting down mulch. I’ve still got a few more veggies to plant today. Here’s a few shots from this morning.

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