Quilt class – using the walking foot

On Saturday, I went to machine quilting class. Class was from 10am until 4pm, with a half hour break in the middle. For the first part of class, we used the walking foot, or in my case, just engaged the IDT on my Pfaff.
walking foot
To make all of our mistakes glaringly obvious it easier to see what we were doing, we used thread that contrasted well with the muslin fabric we were practicing on, and used a different colored thread in the bobbin. First we worked on stitching in the ditch. This means we just stitched over the seam lines of our 9-patch block. Sounds pretty easy, right? Mine was pretty dreadful.

I could just show you this little bit and you might think it was okay –
walking foot- stitching in the ditch

But then when I showed you this other part, which is more representative of the rest of the piece…
walking foot- stitching in the ditch
…you’d see there is room for improvement! See those green lines? That’s where the stitching should have gone. My stitching in the ditch was more like strolling all over the road. We practiced for a bit and then moved on to other techniques. (Whew!)

The next thing we did was the diagonal lines on our 9-patch block. I think this was called “line of sight” quilting, but that could be completely wrong. I should have written it down!

Anyway, I started at one corner of the block and kept an eye on the corner I wanted to go to, focusing on the corner rather than the machine’s presser foot. That turned out like this:

walking foot- line of sight

After we did the center diagonal lines, they were used as a guide to make the stitching lines on either side of them. This worked out pretty well. I ended up with this nice set of squares on point in the middle block:
walking foot- stitching guideline

The next bit seemed to go better.
walking foot- part 2
For this one, we put down strips of masking tape to make our guidelines. Aligning the edge of the foot with the tape, I was able to make nice straight lines. Then we marked dots between a set of the lines and practiced making a zigzag between the lines. The nice thing about this is that it’s okay to just consider the dots to be a suggestion. It didn’t matter if the stitching didn’t make it right to the dot since they were just washable marker spots no one would know the original intent!
walking foot-zigzagging about

Straight zigzags like this were pretty easy – just stitch a straight line and then stop and pivot by leaving the needle down and lifting the presser foot up. The next thing we tried were curves.
walking foot-curves
These worked well when stitching wide, gentle curves. But when the space was narrower, my nice curves seemed to trip a bit.
walking foot-curves

The last thing we tried before moving on to free motion quilting was using one of the machine’s decorative stitches.
walking foot-deco
This time the stitches were aligned with one of the straight lines from earlier. They are nice, but it takes a looonnnng time for those decorative stitches to stitch. This would make a neat border, or maybe something fun for just a few places on the quilt, but I don’t think I have the patience to do much more than that!

The second half of the class was about free motion quilting, but I’ll save that for another post. :) Have you tried quilting with a walking foot? I think the biggest thing was practice, practice, practice! Did your stitching in the ditch turn out better than mine?

Happy quilting!
Kelly

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