August 26, 2020 3 min read

The presser foot is a very important part of your sewing machine as it is used to hold the fabric in place as it is being stitched. However, not every foot is the same. Different feet are needed for different sewing tasks, and not every machine fits every type of foot. For that reason, you first need to identify which type of shank your machine has in order to determine which foot is right for your machine. The shank is the metal rod that the foot attaches to; there are two main types of shank: low shank and high shank. If it is not identified properly, the two pieces will not fit together.

Low shank vs high shank sewing machine


For those who are new to sewing machines, see this: What beginners should know about sewing machines.

What is a low shank sewing machine?

The low shank sewing machine is basically the domestic brands you buy in the different stores. There is not much variety among your choices and it usually won’t matter which department store, etc., you buy.

Here are some typical low shank sewing machines:

Babylock Sewing Machine Models: B15, B17, B21, BL1000, BL1050, BL1108, BL1170, BL1400, BL1500 Companion, BL6300

BL6300 low shank sewing machine

Brother Sewing Machine Models: 10443, 1241, 150 Campus, 160, 1681 Riveria, 170, 220, 221 Galaxie, 221A Galaxie

Domestic Sewing Machine Models: 1630, 264R, 268, 4400, 468, 5438, 955

Janome (Newhome) Sewing Machine Models: 1017 Harmony, 104, 106, 1506, 1510, 2003, 2030DC, 2030QDC, 2040

Kenmore (Sears) Sewing Machine Models: 148.12181, 148.12190, 148.13110, 148.14220, 148.15210, 148.15600

Kenmore 148.12181 low shank sewing machine

Montgomery Ward Sewing Machine Models: 1933, UHTJ1859, UHTJ1944, UHTJ240A

What is a high shank sewing machine?

High shank machines, on the other hand, are the fancy machines or the expensive embroidery models. Plus, they are usually the industrial machines designed for heavy use with a specific purpose.

Here are some typical high shank sewing machines:

Brother Sewing Machine Models: DZ1500F, PQ-1300, PQ-1500, PQ-1500S, PQ-1500SL, PQ1500SLPRW

Brother DZ1500F high shank sewing machine

Babylock Sewing Machine Models: BLQP (Quilter's Choice Pro), BL510A, BL520B

Kenmore Sewing Machine Models: 158.1792280, 148.200, 158.120, 158.12020, 158.130, 158.13011, 158.140, 158.220, 158.433, 158.461, 158.4700, 158.840

Pfaff Sewing Machine Models: 1196, 1197, 1199, 1200 Grand Quilter, 1209, 1211, 1212, 1213, 1214, 1216, 1217, 1221, 1222, 1222E, 1222SE, 1229

Janome Sewing Machine Models: 1600P-DB, 1600P-DBX, 1600P-QC

Janome 1600P-DBX high shank sewing machine

Guaranteed to fit Singer Sewing Machine Models:
20U11, 20U13, 20U43, 20UX143, 31-15, 331K1

How can you know whether your sewing machine is low shank or high shank?

Because low shank is much more popular, if you don’t know what kind of shank your machine is, chances are it’s LOW shank.

However, if you want to know for sure, you need to measure it. The low shank measures about 3/4 of an inch while the high shank measures between 1 and 1 1/4 of an inch.

Let me show you a more specific way:

  1. Put your presser foot in the down position.
  2. Measure from the bed of the machine to the center of the thumb screw (presser foot holder screw).

How to distinguish low shank vs high shank

If the length from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the screw is half an inch, you have a low shank machine. if it is 1 inch or longer, you have a high shank machine.

Slanted Shank

This is a third, less common type of shank that only appears on Singer model sewing machines from the 1960s and 1970s. The shank is 1 1/8 inches and slightly slanted.

Slanted shank sewing machines are Singer sewing machine models:
1000 (Futura), 1036, 1100, 1411, 1425, Athena 2000 (2000A), 2001, 2010 Touchtronic, 290, 301

Singer Athena 2000 slanted shank sewing machine

Besides, please take note that Bernina sewing machines have a completely different presser foot system, they are not high or low shank, they are just … Bernina.

Screw In or Snap On

Snap on presser feet

There are two ways to attach the foot to the machine. Most newer machines use feet that snap on to the shank, and if this is the case with your machine, you do not need to worry about the shank size. For instance, Narrow Rolled Hem Foot Set is best used snap-on presser feet. 

Now, you know what sort of shank your sewing machine is and you can choose the appropriate presser feet for it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave your comments. Enjoy sewing!

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