Fabric feeding isn’t something we think about very often, but it can be important to the final results of your sewing projects. Poor feeding of the fabric can result in mismatched patterns, ill-fitting garments, and misaligned projects. Walking Foot #50 and the Dual Feed available on some BERNINA models can help. They both have similar functions – moving the top fabric while the bottom fabric is moved by the feed dog. This helps control shifting and moving of the layers of fabric and/or batting. Even though they have comparable purposes, the way they accomplish their goals is different and gives slightly different results.
Moving Fabric Under the Needle
First, let’s understand how every sewing machine moves fabric. It is all done by the feed dog. The presser foot holds the fabric down and as the feed dog moves, it takes the fabric with it. It is actually moving the lower fabric that is sitting on the feed teeth and the upper piece of fabric is just going along for the ride. That’s why, at the end of the stitching, the two pieces may be mismatched, sometimes very slightly and sometimes quite a bit, depending on the type of fabric being stitched. Keep reading to find out which presser feet are best for getting good feeding results with your BERNINA sewing machine.
Walking Foot vs. Dual Feed
Next, let’s take a look at how both the Walking Foot and the Dual Feed function work:
- The Walking Foot moves all layers at the same time and pace according to the movement of the feed dog.
- The Dual Feed function affects the top layer and the feed dog controls the feed of the bottom layer.
- The Walking Foot has no motor and the foot, dependent the feed dog movement, moves all layers at one time. Once It gets to the back, it lifts and springs forward waiting for the next feed dog stroke.
- Dual feed has a separate motor so the top fabric that is usually behind can keep up with the lower piece.
- Walking Foot #50 can successfully be used for precision stitching, matching plaids and sewing techniques that need to feed evenly as they go under the foot.
- Dual Feed function can successfully be used for precision stitching, matching plaids and sewing techniques that need to feed evenly as they go under the foot.
- The Walking Foot #50 is suitable for quilting and keeps the fabric and batting layers together, preventing misaligned layers and puckering as you quilt.
- If used for quilting, Dual Feed will affect the top and bottom layer, leaving the batting with very little control. The Dual Feed function can be used for stitching small quilted items with light batting but is not suitable for large, heavy quilting projects.
The Walking Foot and the Dual Feed function are both good tools to help avoid the fabric shifting, pattern misalignment and general imprecise stitching.
Even Feeding with the Walking Foot
See what happens when you sew the same type of fabric with Reverse Pattern Foot #1C (on the left) and Walking Foot #50 (on the right).
Even Feeding with Dual Feed Foot
Using a dual feed foot to match plaids is a perfect way to see the value of a dual feed presser foot. The photo below shows plaid fabric pieces seamed together using Reverse Pattern Foot #1C. The fabric pieces shift and one feeds slightly faster than the other, causing the plaids to be slight mismatched. The problem is that even if the plaids almost match, the garment has a “homemade” look to it.
Stitching the plaid with Reverse Pattern Foot #1D is a different story. Both layers feed together and the result is perfectly matched plaid fabrics.
Find more tips for sewing with Dual Feed here.
Dual Feed Presser Feet
There are eleven presser feet that are available as Dual Feed feet. All of these feet work with the Dual Feed feature of specific BERNINA models. Some come with the machine and others are optional accessories. I use all of these Dual Feed presser feet on my B 790 PLUS and they will work on all BERNINA models that have the Dual Feed function.
Reverse Pattern Foot #1D is an all-purpose foot and works well for forward-feed and multi-motion decorative stitches.
Zipper Foot #4D makes it possible to stitch next to zipper coils. This foot requires the use of a far right or far left needle position.
Jeans Foot #8D is a straight stitch foot that concentrates needle power for better penetration when sewing through thick, heavy, dense layers.
Edgestitch Foot #10D has a guide to help stitch perfectly straight along a seam or edge; great for in-the-ditch stitching.
Zipper Foot with Guide #14D has an adjustable guide for sewing evenly-spaced laps when inserting zippers.
Open Embroidery Foot #20D is for 9 mm decorative stitching; similar to Embroidery Foot #6 but has the front cut away for better visibility of the stitching area.
Clear Foot #34D is similar to Reverse Pattern Foot #1/1C/1D, but has a clear sole for increased stitch visibility.
Patchwork Foot #37D is a straight stitch foot that makes sewing ¼” and ⅛” seams easy and precise.
Non-Stick Zigzag Foot #52D has a special coating on the sole that lets it slide over plastic, leather, and other “sticky” fabrics.
Patchwork Foot #57D is identical to Foot #37, with an added guide for extra insurance for precision stitching.
Patchwork Foot with Guide #97D fits the feed teeth of BERNINA models with a maximum of 9mm stitch width. A separate patchwork guide attaches to the bed of the sewing and comes with the foot.
For more information on the feet in this post, see The Big Book of Feet at your local BERNINA store.