What’s a walking foot sewing machine?
In case you’re a seasoned seamstress you already know what a walking foot is and why a walking foot sewing machine is considered the best for heavy materials, but in case you are not an experienced one, let me tell you that you’re leaving a lot of ease of use and convenience on the table.
A walking foot is basically a unique type and shape of foot that is used to sew heavy and thick materials such as upholstery, leather and suede etc. Since this type of materials are too heavy for needle feed, you need a walking foot.
It has its own feed dogs that move with the needle’s feed dogs on the machine. With feed dogs on top, you easily pull the fabric through the machine.
Top Walking Foot Sewing Machines
In this article, you will get to read reviews of the 10 best walking foot sewing machines, a buyer’s guide and answers to the FAQs.
Before I take each and every of these ten machines and dissect them, let us take a look at our best picks from these 10 machines.
Bestseller and better than all other machines on this list – this one is by all means an industrial sewing machine that is highly portable too. The best thing about this machine is that even though it is an industrial-grade machine for quilting and heavy tasks, it is very silent too.
Not as good as the abovementioned one, but this machine is the best overall machine because of the unique combination of qualities that it features. With fast sewing machine, industry-grade walking foot and heavy-duty metal construction, this is one of the best.
Best Servo Motor
We’re talking about industrial sewing machines with tables and motors and stuff. Out of all of those motors that come with such sewing machines, Servo is the best. This sewing machine comes with a powerful Servo motor.
Although walking foot machines are mostly used for heavy projects like quilting and sewing upholstery, leather and canvas etc., due to their industrial prowess they are considered good for tasks like lockstitches too. This one is the best lockstitch machine on this list.
Family Sew Super Zig-Zag
Now, this is more like a domestic/family/personal sewing machine and it is not a match to the industrial machines that I’ve added to this list, but it surely comes with a walking foot. It is nonetheless a semi-industrial machine and an affordable one.
Finally, here comes the reviews section that you were waiting for.
Before we go on and dissect each of these top 10 walking foot sewing machines, a few words about my review criteria.
I review a product based on its salient features, its pros and its cons.
To gather data for this, I personally test one or two of these machines, I interview sewing machine experts/professional seamstresses and I rely on the reviews given by verified purchasers.
Now, without any further ado, here is the review.
Yes, this one is the bestseller and best of all the walking foot sewing machines that you will read about on this list. What makes it different? Well, it is the best portable walking foot sewing machine that comes with a handful of impressive and helpful features.
Highly Portable – So, one of the biggest qualities of this machine is its portability. With a 14.5” x 7” bed size and 7” x 4.5” underarm space, you can easily place it in any room setting. Also, 34lbs weight does not make it the best portable machine out there, but being an industrial machine, this is just about as portable as it can be.
Built-in 900 RPM Motor – This sewing machine has a 110/115v and 900 RPM strong motor. If you take a look at other motors from other machines, you’d learn that this machine has a slightly above average motor for thick materials.
Straight and Zigzag Stitches – This machine brings to your home a variety of basic stitches that you can use. For example, other than the straight stitch that is used on objects like canvas, it also offers zigzag stitches which are considered ideal because of better control on fabric, distribution of stress and stretchiness.
Reverse Stitching – Other then straight stitch and zigzag one. You can also use reverse stitching which is used to strengthen the stitches.
LED-Lit Work Area – While it is a heavy-duty, old-school, industrial-grade sewing machine, it comes with one of the most wanted features: an LED-lit work area.
Stitch Length Adjustment – It would have been better if this machine allowed stitch width adjustment as well, but at least you can adjust the length of the stitch anywhere from 1mm to 5mm in case of zigzag stitches and 5 to 10 in case of straight stitch.
1,200 Stitches/Minute – Maximum sewing speed that you can enjoy on this machine is 1,200 stitches/minute.
Skip Stitch Technology – With skip stitch technology, this sewing machine limits the instances that are known as skipped stitches.
Built-in Foot Control – With built-in foot control of this sewing machine, you feel at ease and convenience working on any project.
Powerful Machine – Since this is a powerful machine (built and motor), you can easily handle 4 layers of soft leather, vinyl or canvas etc.
So, the pros have already been explained in the features section; let us take a look at the cons.
The first problem that you face with this machine is in terms of height adjustment. The lifting handle would only lift it a few mm – which is not enough to get the material through.
The other problem is its lack of compatibility with some famous threads and needles. For example, it is not compatible with some famous threads like Tenera and Profilin etc. Likewise, it would not accept standard needles like Schmetz ones.
This is the best overall machine from this collection of the machines that I am going to review here. It is a heavy-duty industrial sewing machine with durable metal construction and a heavy-duty carrying handle that makes it easy to move it from one place to another.
8mm Clearance under the Foot – You know that machines like this one are made for hardcore, layered stitching. This sewing machine’s food can have a maximum of 8mm clearance under it due to which you can sew 8 to 10 layers of different thick and thin fabrics.
Built-in Speed Reducer – There is a built-in speed reducer on the extreme right side of the machine (where the motor can be found); use it to enjoy better control over the fabric and extra torque.
Heavy-Duty Carrying Handle – The heavy-duty carrying handle (made of metal), makes it super quick and easy to move this machine from one place to another.
Reverse Stitching Lever – There is a metal lever on the front side of the machine; pull it down and this will activate the reverse stitching mode which is great to reinforce the seam.
800 Stitches/Minute Speed – One of the reasons why this machine is best overall, but not better than the REX 607Z, is its stitching speed. However, 800 stitches/minute is still a pretty average speed for a professional sewing machine.
Stitch Width Adjustment – You can adjust the width of a stitch anywhere from 0 mm to mm while using this machine.
Toothed Belt and Pulleys to Avoid Slippage – The toothed belt and pulleys next to the motor minimize your chances to slippage and thus problems arising out of it.
4 Stitches per Inch – The maximum that you get with this machine is 4 stitches per inch. This means better seam strength and higher elasticity.
Full Accessory Kit – This machine is the complete shebang. You get everything with it that you’ll need to use the machine, including: needles, bobbins, walking foot, foot controller, screwdriver and thread stand etc.
Optional Cuda Crank – With an optional Cuda crank you can turn this into a hand-driven machine and thus enjoy better control.
Hard Cover – The hard case or cover protects this machine from dust and accidents while moving.
Since the pros have already been explained, let us try and understand the cons,
First of all, this is an underpowered machine. This is why it surges too much while sewing. A heavy drive wheel could keep it under control.
The second problem is actually linked with the first one. Yes, you can sew 8 to 10 layers of different fabric, but this machine is not good for this amount of layers in case it is a heavy fabric.
In case you have a thing for Servo motor because of it being one of the best and most powerful motors for walking foot industrial sewing machines, do know that this one comes with a Servo motor.
Comes with a Table and Servo Motor – So, this is a typical heavy-duty, industrial sewing machine thar comes with a big table. This machine comes equipped with a Servo motor, which, by the way, is the motor people separately buy for their heavy-duty machines.
Walking Foot Triple Feed Machine – This machine comes with a walking foot. The triple feed machine, with its two part system, gives you better control on fabric due to which you can easily pull the fabric through it.
Extra Long Stitch Length – The stitch length is adjustable and the maximum adjustable length that you can opt for is 10mm which is more than most of walking foot heavy-duty machines that you’d find on Amazon.
14mm Foot Clearance – In terms of under the foot clearance too, this machine is better than others – even better than the bestseller on this list. It lets you enjoy a high foot clearance at 14mm which should let you sew more than 10 layers at once.
Walking Foot Adjustable Height – The walking motion height is also adjustable.
Large Bobbin – This machine comes with a large bobbin. Not rocket science – simple fact: if you have a large bobbin it means it will host bigger quantity of thread and thus it would save you time.
Perfect for Heavy Materials – You can sew 10 or more layers of a soft cloth and 8 to 10 layers of thick cloth on this machine – it is made for heavy materials.
As you can see the pros are self-explanatory, let us talk a little about the cons.
One of the problems that many customers faced and mentioned is that this machine is NOT easy to set up. It comes with a table, it is pretty old-school and the user manual is not even easy to read. Many people had to get help of technicians to set this thing up.
The second problem does not need any explanation; even domestic/personal use machines these days come with LED lights and this professional machine doesn’t have one.
This is more or less just another CONSEW machine like the one I have reviewed above. However, what makes it special (not better) than the other CONSEW machines is its better lockstitch capacity.
Perfect for Lock Stitches – If you’re a professional seamstress you must know that in the daily life of a professional seamstress, lock stitches matter a lot. This machine comes with a special emphasis on lockstitch functionality.
Oil Pump System with a Pump – This is a professional heavy-duty sewing machine that definitely takes more oil intake when you compare it with domestic/personal ones. This one has an oil pump system that you can use with the pump that comes with the machine.
Oil Pan and Adjustable Oil Flow – These are two apparently different, but interconnected things. First of all, the oil flow is adjustable which is good because you can adjust it as per your needs and thus save oil from wastage. The second thing is that there is an oil pan system with adjustable oil gauge.
Drop Feed – This sewing machine comes with a drop feed. We all know that there are different types of feed systems, but drop feed is the best because it assures a more systematic and easy movement of needle and fabric.
3000 Stitches/Minutes Maximum – Now we’re talking. Think of a professional, heavy-duty sewing machine and then the maximum stitches/minute speed that you can enjoy – this machine will beat that speed with its 3000 stitches/minute speed.
Manual Presser Foot Lift – The presser foot can easily be lifted by hand. This puts you in better control on the machine.
7mm Stitch Length – The maximum stitch length that you can use on this machine is 7mm.
Won’t waste time talking about the pros that have been explained already.
About cons …
They are pretty usual CONSEW machine cons. The machine is hard to setup. Not only you might have to call a technician, but you also might have to make certain amendments in order to make this machine perform better.
The other problem is a lack of LED light.
This is a new style CONSEW sewing machine that is very different when you compare it with is one of the best portable walking foot sewing machines that you’d find on Amazon. While it brings portability to the table, it does so without compromising over performance.
Longer Arm – So, this is a relatively longer arm sewing machine. What is the benefit of a longarm sewing machine? Well, more or less, this type of machine is considered ideal for big projects like quilting. It can handle big projects easily and it saves your time, because you sew layers at once.
Single Needle – This machine comes with a single needle functionality. What makes single needle better? Well, single needle ensures more fine and smooth seams, durability thereof and comfort to the surface after repeated washing of the fabric.
Reverse Stitching – A big, vertical and metal lever can sift this sewing machine from straight sewing mode to reverse stitching so you may reinforce the seams.
Horizontal Oscillating Hook – The horizontal oscillating hook on this machine can be compared with a rotary hook. However, in one way at least this is better than a rotary hook; it has fewer rotating parts which means less complications, less problems and less maintenance expenses.
110v Motor – This machine comes with a 110v motor. This is not too powerful a motor, but definitely above average especially if you compare it with small industrial machines or domestic machines.
Portable – This sewing machine is highly portable because of its carrying handle.
Foot Pedal Included – The foot pedal is included in the package.
So, these cons need a little definition.
First of all, not one, but a handful number of buyers believe that this machine need modifications for it being able to sew thick fabrics or many layers, and to do certain other things.
Lastly, it lacks some basic features like LED light and limited feet.
This Juki walking foot sewing machine features the best feature of a portable, but industrial-grade walking foot sewing machine. Its strong suite is its speed and power with which you can sew tough fabrics and materials.
2,000 Stitches/Minute Max Speed – What makes an industrial, heavy-duty sewing machine different from a domestic one? Among its built (metal mostly) and other features, it is its speed. This one, can sew maximum at a speed of 2,000 stitches/minute.
9mm Maximum Stitch Length – Another hallmark of an industrial sewing machine! In terms of maximum stitch length, this machine beats most of the other long arm walking foot sewing machines with 9mm maximum length compared with 7mm maximum.
110v Industrial Motor with Clutch – Clutch motor is a particular type of motor. This machine has an 110v, industrial clutch motor. Unlike a Servo motor, it runs constantly and offers better speed.
Straight Stitch – This sewing machine allows you straight stitching.
Table – This is a complete package; included in the package is the table on which the machine is supposed to be fixed.
Sewing Light – Instead of an LED light, this setup comes with a big sewing light.
Drawer – Last, but not the least, you get a big accessories drawer.
As it is in the case of most of the industrial sewing machines with tables, it is hard to setup. Even if you do everything fine, a small part like knee lift can give you tough time.
This is not a servo motor, but a clutch motor that runs constantly and thus takes more energy.
This machine is, more or less the same as the one that I have reviewed above.
2,500 Stitches/Minute – The only noticeable difference between this one and the other one above is its maximum stitching speed. It has a better stitching speed with 2,500 stitches/minute.
9mm Maximum Length – The stitch length is adjustable and the maximum stitch length can be 9mm.
110v with Industrial Clutch Motor – This is also a clutch motor – as explained above it runs constantly and thus provides more power.
Rectangular Feed – This machine comes with a rectangular feed. Apart from other features and benefits, rectangular feed is considered good for sewing multilayers materials.
Higher Needle Position – With a higher needle stroke (distance between highest and lowest points of a needle), you can sew many layers at once.
What’s with the cons?
Well, this machine does not come with a self-oiling feature which is a hassle for those who are used to this feature.
The second problem is kind of universal with this type of machines; you may need a technician to set this thing up.
Family Sew Super Zig-Zag
This the most affordable sewing machine on this list. But affordability is not all to this sewing machine. It comes with a combo of amazing feature.
Affordable – The biggest plus point of this machine is that this is the most affordable walking foot sewing machine on this list and on Amazon (considering its feature).
Zigzag Sewing – This machine enables you zigzag sewing – as I’ve already explained this sewing provides better grip on fabric and elasticity etc.
Portable – This is a portable machine because it is lightweight and it does not take up too much space.
Walking Foot with ¼” Clearance – In terms of under the foot clearance, this machine does not offer much, but ¼” clearance. It is probably good for two layers.
150 Watts Motor – This machine comes with a 150 watts powerful motor which is roughly 2x more powerful than the motor of a domestic sewing machine.
Highly Portable – Due to its size and weight it is a very portable sewing machine.
Maximum Zigzag Stitch Width 0.2” – The maximum Zigzag sewing stitch width that you can enjoy is 0.2”.
Maximum Zigzag Stitch Length 5 mm – The maximum length is 5mm.
800 Stitches/Minute – In terms of speed, this machine offers 800 stitches/minute.
The problems with this machine are common type of problems with any machine. The motor makes more than normal noise and even a few industrial-grade table machines do not make as much of it as this one does.
The other problem is that the clearance area underneath the foot is very small – hardly this machine can sew 4 layers of soft material at once.
Yamata FY 1541S
These machines are more along the lines of Juki and Reliable Barracuda machines. It comes with a powerful motor and many impressive features.
110v Servo Motor – So, this one is a breeze of fresh air with 110v Servo motor. Servo motor saves energy while does the job it is supposed to do.
2,500 Stitches/Minute – In terms of power and speed, this machine does not have many competitors; it offers you a 2,500 stitches/minute speed.
Large Bobbin – Its large bobbin takes more thread, save time and makes things easier for you.
Reverse Sewing – The machine enables reverse sewing which is pretty much essential a feature.
Single Needle – This is another single needle machine – as explained before, single needle is preferred because of smooth and fine work.
Adjustable Climbing Device – The adjustable climbing device of this machine lets the user control the walk height of the walking foot.
So, both of these cons are somehow interconnected. This is a complete setup that comes unassembled. You have to assemble it and it takes time and hassle – sometimes a technician too.
The other problem is with the functionality of the machine – it is a little complicated.
Last, but not the least, this highly portable sewing machine is the complete shebang with many impressive features.
Portable – So, this is a highly portable sewing machine due to its weight and dimensions (19.5” x 15.1” x 13.3”).
Straight and Zigzag Stitches – This sewing machine allows you both: to make straight stitches as well as zigzag ones. The latter are preferred because of the strength and elasticity they bring to the table.
110/115v Motor – This machine has a powerful 110/115v motor that 900 RPM power.
Reverse Stitching – To reinforce the stitches, you can switch to the reverse sewing mod.
Stitch Length Adjustment 1mm to 5mm – When it comes to straight stitching, you can enjoy 5 to 10 stitches per inch and in case of zigzag ones, the length can be adjusted anywhere between 1mm to 5mm.
These are pretty usual cons.
The compatibility problems that this machine suffers are in terms of needles and other parts that you can or cannot use with it.
The machine is a full system, but that makes it hard to setup.
So, what are the points you should look for when buying industrial walking foot sewing machines?
Here they are:
As you must have noticed – there are more or less two types of motors that come with this machine. Servo is modern, quiet and energy-saving, while industrial clutch motor provides more power – it’s just it makes more noise and it takes more electricity.
What kind of walking foot comes with the machine? Did they use a premium one or did they just use a cheap, Chinese one to label the machine as a walking foot machine? Is there an adjustable climbing device as you notice in case of the Yamata one that I’ve reviewed above?
We’re talking about industrial machines here – stitching speed matters a lot. 800 stitches/minute is more like a domestic sewing machine. You can pick a machine with as much as 2,000 to 3,000 stitches/minute speed.
Types of Stitching
Most of these machines do come with zigzag stitching option. It is considered idea for elongated control on fabric and elasticity etc. All other machines mostly have only straight and reverse stitching options. Make sure, your machine has all three of them.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about walking foot sewing machines and their answers.
What is a walking foot sewing machine?
There is no such thing as a walking foot sewing machine; it is just some machine allow this extra foot to be installed. This type of machine/foot is used to add more power to the feeding process and thus easily have the fabric through the feed.
Do I need walking foot for sewing?
Not at all. This type of functionality is only required for those who indulge in industrial sewing of heavy fabrics and materials and that too when they have to sew layers of such material.
What is the walking foot machine used for?
When you install a walking foot, you get extra feed dogs on top of the fabric to move it fast through the needle area. It is used for sewing heavy materials such as upholstery, leather, suede and canvas etc. – 5 to 10 layers of them at once.
How and when to use the walking foot?
How is pretty simple – follow the manual or online tutorial to install one. When? Well, in different scenarios such as straight line quilting, sewing on quilt binding, sewing layers of leather/upholstery, sew straps and sewing on multiple layers other than leather/upholstery.
Can you sew zigzag with a walking foot?
Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, most of the walking foot machines that I reviewed for this list have zigzag stitch functionality. This foot only makes it easier.
Can I do free motion quilting with a walking foot?
It depends. With a walking foot you can easily create evenly spaced stitches: something that is essential to quilting. However, since it is a big foot, making the curves can be a problem.
Can you put a walking foot on any sewing machine?
Not at all. A walking foot takes more than usual space and every sewing machine is not made keeping in mind that the user might want to use a walking foot. This is why there is this category known as “walking foot sewing machines” and why most of them are industrial ones.
Let me know how you liked this review.
Also read other reviews of high-quality machines such as Pfaff sewing machines.
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