If you are fairly new to quilting, or maybe sewing in general, you will probably wonder what this curious looking sewing machine foot is. It is called a walking foot. A walking foot is a quilter's best friend and many fellow sewers swear by it when sewing garments and bags. Especially when handling several thick layers of fabric and stretchy fabrics the walking foot, also called 'even feed foot', will make sewing easier.
Every time your needle moves up and down your feed dogs, the zigzaggy things under your needle, will move up and grab the fabric to move it backwards. This makes sewing easier and gives a more even stitch length, since you do not have to pull the fabric through manually. Some fabrics tend to shift when moving them through the sewing machine. This happens because the feed dogs only pull on one side. The walking foot makes it possible for all layers to move evenly, because it provides feed dogs on the upper side of the fabric.
I have seen many new sewers ask questions about how to attach and use the walking foot. Compared to other sewing machine feet this one looks like a monster, but believe me when I say it looks worse than it is. Just follow these steps:
1. Screw off your existing sewing machine foot.
2. Attach the walking foot by attaching (in this case) the black part with the screw to the foot holder on your machine.
3. Make sure that the movable arm on your foot is grabbing the needle arm on your machine. The needle arm is right where the tightening screw of the needle is located. This will make sure that your walking foot's feed dogs move up and down every time your needle moves up and down.
For first-timers I recommend going nice and slow to get used to the foot.
Quilters are dealing with at least three layers of fabric and even if the quilt is properly basted, it can sometimes be difficult to keep the layers from shifting. A walking foot will prevent this from happening. It is important to notice that the walking foot is not recommmended for free motion quilting. You will need a darning / embroidery foot for free motion quilting.
Walking feet tend to be a little more expensive than other feet but you get a lot of utility out of them, so it's worth it. As I mentioned before you can use them for sewing garments and other stretchy fabrics as well. I recommend avoiding the cheepest models, since the plastic parts in them tend to be less durable. But you don't necessarily have to use a brand foot either, since most mid-price range feet are just as good.