Differential on a Sewing Machine

Ask an Expert Banner NSC

NSC Question

In Aurora’s differential video, she talks about differential feed on a serger. My question is, does a regular sewing machine have a differential? I found I needed to buy a walking foot so that my sewing was without pulling or pushing. Is there something I should fix on my sewing machine?

Submitted by Fran

NSC Answer

Differential feeds are found on sergers and overlock machines while most regular sewing machines have an even feed. Are you sewing with thick fabric or multiple layers of fabric? If so, it is not uncommon to need a walking foot. However, you shouldn’t need to be pulling or pushing your fabric through your machine as it should be doing that for you. There is a speed setting on most machines for the feed dogs. Try adjusting that faster or slower and see if that gets rid of the pulling and pushing problem.

Hope that helps!


Related Videos:
What is Differential?
Tips for Managing Bulky Fabrics

Do you have a sewing question you’d like answered by an expert? Email your question to editor@nationalsewingcircle.com or reach out to us on Facebook.

Please note: questions may be edited for clarity and relevance.

Make a comment
  • (will not be published)

13 Responses to “Differential on a Sewing Machine”

  1. Janice Ludwig

    I have several of my mother’s handkerchiefs of my mothers. I would like to put them into a small quilt. What weight of backing would I need among other issues I may not be aware of. I am an advanced beginner quilter

  2. Rechelle Ivy

    Why is my walking foot hopping and skipping and making a thumping noise while quilting

    • Customer Service

      Hi Rechelle. The thumping sound generally means that you have a dull needle and you should replace it. As for the hopping and moving of the walking foot- it should be moving up and down in a more “walking” manner than a regular foot (that doesn’t move at all), but it should really only be going up and down and slightly back and forth. If it is moving side to side at all you may want to consult your manual to ensure that it is installed on your machine correctly.
      National Sewing Circle

  3. Mickey Epps

    My machine is a day old just bought it this week..and already I’m experiencing machine lock up could you assist me please

    • Customer Service

      Hello Mickey,

      What machine are you using, please?

      National Sewing Circle Video Membership

  4. Sandy Burgher

    I would like to know about my machines Janome and cheap serger if they will do what your classes suggest before I buy them I also have a feather weight Thank you Sandy

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Sandy. You can follow along in all of the serger classes with any brand of machine. Even though it may not be the same brand of machine used by the instructor in the classes the practices and techniques will still be the same.

      You can also use your featherweight machine for any of the sewing projects as well as long as it can do basic sewing like forward and backwards straight stitching and a zig zag stitch (if needed for a certain project).

  5. michelle

    How do you combine 2 different size pieces for a dress. My top half is smaller than bottom half. How do you combine the 2 different size pieces to sea a dress?

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Michelle. Is the bottom half intended to be gathered so that it is the same size as the top half when it is attached?

    • Helen Maglio

      Hi Michelle, I just noticed the date of this question….It looks llike an old question, but What did you end up doing for your dress? I was going to reply to check that you cut out the correct sizes for each piece….also, like the other person replied, maybe there was an intentional gather or easing that you would need to do so that the two pieces sew together. I’d love to hear your response.