Why a walking foot sewing machine? It should depend on the material and thickness of your project. In contrast to a regular feed where fabric is pulled through the mechanism only by the feed dogs, a walking mechanism pulls from both the top and bottom. Pulling only on the bottom layer of fabric and you will potentially displace the top. Leather or vinyl, denim, leather, and canvas are usually dense, or in the case of leather, you have a slick surface. The simultaneous pull of the walking foot ensures all layers of fabric or material are fed into the stitch at a consistent rate. Keeping the material smooth is key for heavyweight or cushiony products so to reduce potential jams. This action will preserve flat, even seams in layered fabric, perfect for industrial leather sewing or quilting. Steady speed is what you want when attaching leather, vinyl or other low friction surfaces.
How walking feet move is by utilizing the triple feed type (compound feed system). It uses two alternating presser feet which move the material simultaneously with the motion of the needle bar. The outside part lifts off the top while the material is pinched and moved by the inner part and feed dog in the desired direction. Once the feed mechanism reaches the set stitch length, the outside part lowers to again secure the work. Simultaneously, the needle ascends which forms the thread loop that goes around the bobbin, then withdraws from the material. The outside part stays down on the material as the needle bar and inside presser foot bar repositions for the following stitch. Your thick or layered material will not shift out of alignment because of the constant grab of the system. Stitch length will remain constant and it keeps your work from moving until you are ready. Just raise the feet with the knee lever.
Additionally, the walking feet maneuver up over thicker layers of material, and scale back down over lower levels, without any misgiving or having to manually raise the foot. The alternating grab and pull of the system will walk over different surfaces with ease after it is adjusted for ample lift.
Flatbed walking feet are ideal for quilting, or for leather items that can be sewn flat. The cylinder bed versions are ideal for round or bulky projects that need room to be maneuvered around the arm, such as sleeves, saddles, shoes, or other oversized curves.
One of the best flatbed models to consider is the Juki DNU-1541S. You can throw just about any thick material at this powerhouse and expect only great results. If you are considering an industrial walking foot sewing machine for the first time, give us a call and ask for Mike or Nick! We have 50 years of experience in the sewn products industry. We can help you make the right choice based on your project!
Some home sewers will land on this page intending to sew leather. Just so you know an industrial walking foot is exactly what you want for leather sewing, but it’s not just for leather. It can handle much more with its’ dexterity and precision. They will work with any heavyweight, slick, dense or multiple layered material assemblies while preserving speed and accuracy.
Walking feet offer superior advantages to any home machine. Residential styles that mimic walking feet will only handle about 3/16” of material thickness before jamming up and destroying your project.
With lightweight plastic inside, domestic machines just aren’t going to sew animal hide for very long. If you’re in the sewn products industry, there is no way you can afford these setbacks.
Most walking feet have a stitch length from 8-10mm. Whereas, your home versions max out at 4-6mm. The stitching speeds on our commercial brands can reach up to 2,500 stitches per minute using an adjustable speed servo motor. These motors need no time to cool down. They are workhorses designed for long continuous runs. It’s easy to just adjust the variable speed motor to puncture any tough or stacked materials that will fit underneath the foot lift.
Non-slip on the top and bottom feeds are typical features to keep layers from sliding. Also, you’ll find oiling to be a breeze with either an internal oiling system or an oil bath that keeps things running without constantly worrying about oil levels.
Most brands we carry also have 8-10mm of maximum stitch length and will also allow the operator to reverse the direction of the project. All our machines, unless otherwise specified, come with an industrial-grade table and stand that hold up to long hours of heavy production without unnecessary vibration or shaking.
• Mechanism keeps material aligned • Handles layers perfectly without slipping • Heavy duty set up delivers long hours of sewing • Is a leather walking foot sewing machine • Has forward and reverse directional stitching • Servo motors needs no time to cool down • Internal or Oil bath system keeps continuous oiling • Holds larger, stronger needles for tough or dense material • Literally will walk over different heights in project with ease • Offers speeds of up to 2,500 stitches per minute • Continuous speed and control of pull keeps project smooth
Disadvantages & Drawbacks
• Pricey compared to home sewers • Proper maintenance is needed to keep up overall performance • Rather heavy & not easily moved or repositioned • Does not offer a large variety of stitching options • It can be a little bit on the noisy side
In summary, if you are looking to sew leather or just a good walking foot the disadvantages should not deter you. For any project with layers of thick, dense, or slick materials, this is the best we have to offer. The advantages far outweigh the drawbacks of leather or multiple layered projects.