As sewists, we don’t always spend much time thinking about how our sewing machines feed our fabric through as we stitch. Quite often, our minds focus on how beautiful our finished projects are going to look, however, it is important to understand how sewing machines feed fabric through as this can greatly impact our sewing results.
For example, poor feeding of the fabric can result in disastrous issues that can negatively affect the visual and practical elements of your finished product. To name just a few ways that poor fabric feeding can affect your sewing project, it can:
With that being said, please don’t worry because I’m here to help! No one wants to pour hours of time and passion into a garment only for it to end up not fitting correctly or to find that, despite your best efforts, your patterns just haven’t matched up seamlessly.
That is why today’s focus is on the differences between the walking foot and the dual feed foot. Before we get into the comparisons, let’s have a quick recap and ensure we all fully understand how sewing machines move fabrics.
How do sewing machines move fabric?
Every sewing machine moves fabric using the feed dog. The presser foot holds the fabric in place whilst the feed dog moves, taking the fabric with it. You can learn more about this section of your sewing machine, as well as the other elements of your machine, in our handy Glossary Of Basic Terms. You may also find our guide on How To Properly Care For Your Sewing Machine At Home to be a useful source of information about your sewing machine mechanics.
At the end of stitching, you may have noticed that your two pieces of fabric are mismatched. Depending on the type of fabric used, the pieces you have stitched may be out by a few millimetres, or there may be a significant difference in positioning between the two pieces of fabric This is because the feed dog is actually only moving the lower piece of fabric that sits on the feed dog teeth. The upper piece just comes along for the ride, and this is what causes misalignment.
The walking foot moves all the layers of fabric at the same time and pace. The dual feed function, however, affects the top layer, whilst the feed dog controls the bottom layer.
This is achievable because the dual feed foot has its own separate motor that allows the top piece of fabric to keep up with the pace that the lower piece moves at. On the other hand, the walking foot has no motor. Subsequently, the foot is dependent on the feed movement, and can therefore only move the layers at the same time. Once the walking foot gets to the back, it lifts and springs forward, waiting for the next feed dog stroke.
Walking foot vs Dual Feed foot...
Now we understand exactly how sewing machines move the fabric, it’s time to dive into the differences between the walking foot and the dual feed foot.
Even feeding and pattern matching
Both the walking foot and dual feed foot can be successfully used for precision stitching, as well as matching plaids and patterns, and sewing techniques that require an even feed as the fabric moves under the foot. That being said, due to the walking foot’s lack of motor, it’s likely you’ll find matching certain styles and patterns of fabric, such as plaids, to be extremely difficult. The plaid is likely to be slightly mismatched, giving the garment a ‘homemade’ feel, rather than a professional finish.
Which is better for quilting?
The walking foot is ideal for quilting as it keeps the fabric and batting layers together, preventing any misaligned layers and puckering as you sew. On the other hand, the dual feed foot will affect both the top and bottom later of your quilt, leaving the batting with very little control. The dual feed function can be used for stitching small quilted items with light batting, however, it’s not suitable for large and heavy quilting projects.
Dual Feed Foot Varieties
There are several different varieties of presser feet that are available as dual feed feet. These different dual feed feet come in handy depending on your choice of fabric, and the types of sewing techniques you’re planning to use. For example, the open embroidery presser foot is great for freehand decorative stitching, whereas the jeans foot is ideal for thick, heavy fabrics such as denim.
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