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.
For those who are new to sewing machines, see this: What beginners should know about sewing machines.
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
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
Montgomery Ward Sewing Machine Models: 1933, UHTJ1859, UHTJ1944, UHTJ240A
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
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
Guaranteed to fit Singer Sewing Machine Models:
20U11, 20U13, 20U43, 20UX143, 31-15, 331K1
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:
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.
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
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.
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!