A walking foot is a mechanism for feeding the work-piece through a sewing machine as it is being stitched. It is most useful for sewing heavy materials where needle feed is mechanically inadequate, for spongy or cushioned materials where lifting the foot out of contact with the material helps in the feeding action, and for sewing many layers together where a drop feed will cause the lower layers to shift out of position with the upper layers.

A sewing machine might have a single walking foot, or two walking feet with alternating action. A walking foot may be combined with another feed mechanism, such as a drop feed or a needle feed.

It is not a common sewing machine attachment for household use other than for quilting, but this type of feed is common in industrial heavy duty machines. Some household machines are marketed as having a walking foot, but actually have a puller feed. However, almost all household sewing machines use a standard connector for their presser foot, and so add-on walking foot attachments are available.


Plaid Matcher Attachments

A "plaid matcher" is similar to a walking foot, but unlike a walking foot it does not actually contribute any forward or backward feeding force. Rather, it applies cyclic downward pressure onto the material onto the feed dogs, in time with the feed dogs, so as to increase the friction between layers of the material. The increased friction reduces the slipping of lower layers (which contact the feed dogs) versus the upper layers (which tend to be held in place by the presser foot).

The plaid matcher's downward pressure is more helpful than that of the presser foot because the plaid matcher's foot can slide freely forward and back in order to move with the feed dogs. Consequently, it appears to be a walking foot, even though the only force it generates is downward.

The plaid matcher is powered by the machine's shank.







US 14.324                           T. J. W.  Robertson

Sewing Machine

Claim.The looper b, constructed, applied and operated substantially in the manner set forth.

February 26, 1856


US 14.433                          William  C.  Watson

Sewing Machine

The device for preventing the loop forming on both sides of the needle. Claim:

1st. The tongue or spring r in combination with the needle for insuring the formation of loops on one side only as described.

2d. The gripper for seizing the thread and holding it until the needle has entered the cloth, thus securing the last stitch against the slacking up as described. The whole being constructed and operating substantially as set forth herein.

Assignor to Ira W. Gregory

March 11, 1856


US 17.186                               Bryan  Atwater

Sewing Machine

The inventor says: I do not claim forming a loop for a chain-stitch and holding it in position to receive the succeeding loop wherein a stationary shuttle is used, as in the patent of T. J. W.  Robertson.

But I claim the arrangement described, by which I am enabled to keep the loop of the needle thread positively in position by guides alone, without the necessity of introducing a looper or any other device into the loop, or making the loop pass around a hook or fixed shuttle; that is to say:

First. The described arrangement of guides for forming the loop from the slack of the needle thread and directing the same by an external operation to a position for the needle to pass through it, consisting of a stationary guide-piece J, a stationary notched plate or edge g and two stationary guides m m, arranged as specified, in proper relation to each other and to the needle and the cloth, or other material to be sewed and employed in connexion with a proper feeding movement of the cloth or material, to operate substantially as described and in combination with the said contrivance, I claim the guide plate j, with its lip I, arranged and operating as set forth.

Second. Though I do not claim the dog L, operating as described in connexion with an elastic foot-piece K on the face of the cloth, as in the machine of T. J. W. Robertson, to produce the feeding movement of the cloth or other material to be sewed, I claim the attachment of the dog L to lever M, arranged and operated upon by a wiper q, on the driving shaft E, as set forth, to produce a quick or sudden feeding movement of the cloth or other material, which shall, at the same time, aid in throwing the loop in the path of the needle, as and for the purpose specified.

May 5, 1857


US 19.171                               Amos H.  Boyd

Operating-Shoe for Feeding and Holding the Cloth or Work on a Sewing Machine

To explain the nature of my improvement I will observe that the shoe heretofore in use has no distinct lifting and depressing movement, nor was its lateral feed-motion strictly horizontal and it performed both its feed and backward motions at the same elevation, so that after moving the cloth forward the shoe, in its counter-movement, was apt to push the cloth back again, especially where the work was uneven from plaits, gathers, or otherwise. Now, the nature of my improvement consists in introducing distinct lateral and perpendicular movements of the shoe, by which the performance of its exact functions are made certain on every kind of work, my lifting and depressing movement being strictly perpendicular and my feed motion strictly horizontal and I am enabled to use a flat or level shoe, by which the cloth is held firm about the needle a sufficient space to prevent its being strained and forced through the slot in the bed-piece by the action of the needle when passing through the cloth...

...I am aware that in the machine patented by Bryan Atwater May 5, 1857, he uses a lever for moving the “shoe, (which he denominates dog L,’) the design and effect being to produce an oblique or lateral movement of such shoe or dog, and thereby to feed the cloth, but not raising it off the cloth, by perpendicular movement. I there fore disclaim the design of Mr. Atwater's device.

I am also aware that W. C. Watson, in his machine patented November 6, 1856, makes use of the reciprocating rotary shaft W, aided by a spring affixed to the shoe, for producing a swinging or pendulous movement of the shoe, by which to feed the cloth, but does not give a strictly horizontal lateral movement to said shoe. I therefore disclaim every thing secured to said Watson by his said Letters Patent. By "horizontal lateral movement" I mean a movement parallel to the bed of the machine. What I claim as my invention and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is:

1. The combination of lever M with the shoe and spring 4 for giving the shoe a vertical reciprocating movement.

2. In combination with the above the slide T, for giving the horizontal reciprocating movement to the shoe, (when the shoe is to be operated in the manner described,) arranged as herein set forth.

Assignor to Oliver D. Boyd

January 19, 1858