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What Is A Low Shank Sewing Machine

Have you been in a situation where you wanted to use a certain sewing foot only to realize that it is not compatible with your machine? It is a very common scenario that happens because of the shank of a sewing machine. Most high shank machines are incompatible with a variety of presser feet available in the market and hence, they are not a great choice for hobbyists. A low shank machine is what you need if you like to change your sewing foot from time to time and work on different projects. 

What Is A Low Shank Sewing Machine?

A low shank sewing machine is a machine that has a smaller rod between the attachment screw and the presser foot. This length is approximately ¾ inch and offers a lot of options to hobbyists when it comes to changing the foot. There are plenty of foot options for low shank machines, so, if you are a hobbyist or a tailor or a designer for that matter you should consider investing in a low shank machine from a good brand. A low shank machine is also a valuable tool for beginners because it is so flexible and is highly versatile in techniques. 

What is a Shank?

If you want to understand the difference between a low shank sewing machine and a high shank machine, you will have to understand what a shank is. It is what differentiates a low one from a high one. A shank is the metal rod in your machine that holds the presser foot. In low shank sewing machines, this rod is small, so the distance between the presser foot and the attachment screw is ¾ inch or even less. Infact some new machine models have completely omitted the shank in their design. On the other hand, a high shank machine has a rod of 1 inch or more. 

Types of Sewing Feet that can be used with a Low Shank Sewing Machine

If you are using a low shank sewing machine, you will be able to enjoy a plethora of sewing feet for various purposes. 

Zipper Foot 

You will be able to use a zipper foot to sew very close to the zipper coils while ensuring a neat appearance and an improved zipper function. 

Buttonhole Foot

Buttonhole foot will help you repeat your pattern quickly and keep the buttonhole size and shape similar throughout the project.

Blind Hem Foot

A blind hem foot comes in handy when you want to create a nearly invisible hemline for skirts, dresses and other garments. 

Jeans Foot

This foot allows you to sew tough materials like denim and corduroy with ease. 

Piping Foot

A piping foot allows you to create a neat piping at the edges of your fabric. Piping can be done at the neckline, at the hem and even on the sleeves.

Darning Foot

A darning foot, as its name suggests, is the foot that helps in darning a torn fabric. This foot is designed to stitch fine, tight stitches to help you save a fabric from going to the dustbin.

These are just a few important presser feet that you can use with your low shank sewing machine. There are literally uncountable types of foot that come in handy in different scenarios and are mostly compatible only with the low shank machines. 

Why is the Screw Missing on my Sewing Machine’s Shank?

Some newer sewing machine models have changed their design. They do not use a screw setting anymore, rather you will find snap-on presser feet. In the snap-on models, you do not have to worry about the shank size as most of the snap-on feet work smoothly with them. In general, all the snap-on sewing machines are considered low shank sewing machines. Do remember that you cannot fit a screw foot on a snap on machine, so, you might have to completely replace your collection of feet (if you have one) or invest only in snap-on ones. 

What is a High Shank Sewing Machine?

If your sewing machine has a presser foot longer than 3/4th of an inch, chances are you have a high shank sewing machine or a slanted shank sewing machine. If your shank measures one inch or 1 ¼ inch, your machine is a high shank machine. Most commercial sewing machines have a high shank. Quilting machines also have a high shank. 

Slanted sewing machines are an old design and are rarely found in the market. These machines were made in the 1960s and 70s and had a huge shank measuring around 1 1/8 inch. The shank in these machines used to be slightly inclined and hence, they were named as slanted shank sewing machines. 

Why is a Low Shank Machine Better than a High Shank Sewing Machine?

It will be wrong to say that a low shank machine is better than a high shank machine because both of them have their own purpose. A low machine is better if you want a versatile machine that can quickly go from embroidering to sewing a denim pant with a simple change of presser foot. A high shank machine can also get the job done but it may not be as easy as a low shank machine. So, a low machine is better than a high shank machine only in the scenario where you need a versatile sewing machine for your different projects. 

Why is a Low Shank Machine Better for Beginners?

Sewing is a task that needs expertise. If you own a high shank machine, you won’t be able to toggle between too many sewing feet and hence, you will have to learn to make do with just a few presser feet. Basically, you will have to learn to use limited feet to do multiple jobs and will require a lot of practice. 

A low shank machine on the other hand let’s you easily change the foot according to the job you are doing and makes it incredibly easy. Therefore, even if you are a beginner, you will be able to sew efficiently with the help of different presser feet options. Furthermore, a low shank machine will let you take up multiple projects, so you won’t need to change your sewing machine as you move from one hobby to another. 

Different Types of Presser Feet

There are different types of presser feet based on how they fit on a shank. Some feet need a screwdriver and a proper understanding or removal and refitting of feet, while others work with a simple snap-on function. Here are a few common presser feet, used across the globe. 

Screw-on Presser Foot

Screw-on presser foot is the traditional presser foot that can be attached using a screw on the machine. This type of presser foot needs a screwdriver to replace a foot. You can use only a screw-on presser foot to replace a screw-on presser foot. A snap-on foot cannot help.

Snap-on Presser Foot

Snap-on presser foot has a modern design and is very easy to replace. Its name is enough to define how it detaches and snaps back on in place. Most new sewing machine models come with a snap-on foot and the design is universal. But there are some brands that use their own snap-on system which needs an adapter for smooth transitioning. 

Brand Specific Presser Foot

Some brands have their own design when it comes to presser foot. As a result, you will have to always choose the presser foot from the same brand or use an adaptor to use other, somewhat compatible presser feet. 

Sewing machines are magical equipment for those who like to sew. They make the task of sewing simple as compared to sewing by hand and also offer long lasting results. A low shank sewing machine can help you become an expert seamstress or a pro quilter in no time. Choose your machine wisely and do not forget to check the shank type.

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