Low Shank vs High Shank – 6 Differences Between Low Shank And High Shank

Have you ever been in a situation where you desire to use the specific sewing foot to realize that it is compatible with your sewing machine? It is so common that it happens because of the shank of the sewing machine. Unfortunately, most of the high shank machines are incompatible with various presser foot available in the market, and they are not a great choice for hobbyists.

A low shank machine is somehow the one you desire to work on distinct projects of yours. But, how does a low shank different from a high shank? Here, keep reading this article to know the differences between low shank and high shank.

Before getting to the differences, do you know what shank is? Yes! Before understanding the difference between a high shank and a low shank machine, you need to understand what a shank is. It is the essential point that differentiates a low shank from the high one.

A shank is the metal rod in your sewing machine that holds your presser foot. This rod is small in the low shank sewing machine, and hence the distance between the attachment screw and presser foot is lower. Meanwhile, the high shank machine has a rod higher than 1 inch.

So, here in this article, you will get to acknowledge the differences between low shank and high shank, and before that, learn what the low shank, high shank, and then the differences are.

What is a Low Shank?

low shank sewing machines

A low shank sewing machine is a sewing machine that boasts a smaller rod between the presser foot and the attachment screw. The length of the low shank is about three-fourth inches and offers several options to hobbyists when it arrives to change the foot.

There are numerous options for low shank sewing machines, and if you are a tailor or hobbyist, or designer, you should consider investing in a good low shank sewing machine. A low shank machine is also a valuable tool for beginners because it is highly versatile and flexible in techniques.

Most of the sewing machines have lower shanks and especially domestic purpose sewing machines. Since they are created, they have the greatest variety of presser foot.

The low shank sewing machines are the domestic brands, and there are not many varieties available for your choices. It usually doesn’t matter where you are buying the low shank machine until it is the best one.

You can choose the baby lock sewing machine with a low shank, brother sewing models, domestic models, Janome models, Kenmore sewing machine, and Montgomery ward sewing machines are available with low shank.

Also, you can use some of the various sewing feet like Zipper foot, buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, jeans foot, piping foot, and darning foot for the low shank sewing machine.

What is a High Shank?

high shank sewing machines

High Shank sewing machines are the one that has a measurement of the high shank between one to one-fourth inches. They appear on industrial machines rather than domestic ones.

They also appear for domestic purposes but are mostly suitable for industrial machines. If your sewing machine also has a presser foot longer than three-fourth inches, then your machine might have a higher shank. Most commercial sewing machines have a higher shank, and quilting machines are also one of them.

The high shank sewing machines are the old designed and rarely found sewing machines in the market. These machines were made in the 1960 and 70s and had a huge high shank measuring. The shanks in these sewing machines are used to be inclined slightly, and they are also known as slant shank sewing machines.

You may consider them as fancy machines or expensive embroidery machines and are industrial machines designed for heavy use for specific sewing projects. You can try the brother sewing machine, baby lock sewing machine, Kenmore sewing machine, pfaff sewing machine, Janome sewing machines, and singer sewing machines with higher shank.

Differences Between Low Shank and High Shank

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The above discussion clarifies that low shank sewing machines and high shank sewing machines have a lot in common. And that is the only thing that explains why it cannot be easy to mix it all up. However, they are two distinct things with some unique features that you will understand with practice.

Here are the differences between them to start you off right, with the right method for each of the low shank and high shank sewing machines.


The primary distinction between low shank and high shank sewing machines is their purpose. Low shank sewing machines are used for domestic purposes, while high shank can be used for industrial purposes.


Length is the essential feature that differentiates both low shank and high shank sewing machines. The low shank sewing machine has the length from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the thumbscrew of half-inches or less. The high shank sewing machine length from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the thumbscrew is about one inch or more.


Price again is the factor you should not ignore while selecting the sewing machine you desire. The low shank sewing machines are cheaper and inexpensive; meanwhile, the high shank sewing machines are more expensive than the low shank machine.

Presser Foot

Presser’s foot is not what differentiates a low shank and high shank machine, but it is necessary to know that presser foot the low shank and high shank machine will accept. The low shank sewing machine will accept the low shank presser foot, while the high shank sewing machines will accept only the high shank presser foot.

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It would be wrong if we don’t differentiate between the efficiency of a low shank and a high shank sewing machine. They both have their purpose. A low shank machine is a versatile machine that can work quickly with embroidering to stitching denim pants with a change of presser foot. The high shank sewing machine can also be versatile for some challenging sewing projects.


One can change the high shank machine to the low shank one with an adapter, which is the small piece of metal used in shank modifications. Sometimes, the high shank machines become incompatible with some of the presser foot.

How To Measure The Shank Size of Your Sewing Machine?

You can measure the shank size of your sewing machine by following the steps below –

  • Firstly, put the presser foot of the sewing machine in the downward position.
  • Take the small ruler and measure the length of the shank from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the thumbscrew.
  • If the length from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the thumbscrew is half inches or less, then the shank size of your machine is the low shank. Meanwhile, if the length from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the thumbscrew is one inch or more, then the shank size of the sewing machine is higher.

Why is The Low Shank Sewing Machine Better For Beginners?

Sewing and stitching are the tasks that need expertise in their respective fields. If you have a high shank sewing machine, you won’t be able to toggle between various sewing feet, and hence, you will need to learn to make do with some presser feet.

In general, you need to learn to use the limited feet to perform multiple jobs, requiring some more practice than usual.

The lower shank sewing machine will let you change the foot easily as per your job and make it easier.

There, if you are a beginner, you can work on your sewing projects efficiently with the help of distinct presser feet availability.

Furthermore, the low shank sewing machine will let you take up multiple projects, so you need not change your sewing machine as you move from one hobby to another.

Does a Singer or Brother Produce High Shank Or Low Shank Sewing Machines?

sewing machine

In general, all the sewing machines are designed for household purposes and have low shanks, but the industrial purpose high shank sewing machines are also designed.

In the case of brother sewing machines, they are among the top brands among sewing machines, and they manufacture the machines for both embroidery and stitching.

They make both low and high-shank sewing machines because most people trust this brand, and they love to buy machines from them. Their machines are compatible with other brands as well.

In 1960 and 70, the Singer, yet another sewing machine brand, tried to experiment with something exclusive and made a high shank machine with a shank of one and one-eighth inches. Since then, they have manufactured various low and high shank machines.

Their low shank machine is for stitching at home and high shank in industries to make embroideries. They began making several types of sewing machines with the passing era, including the low shank, high shank, slant shank, and more.

Both of these brands have demands and necessities by most of the people, and hence, they make numerous changes in their sewing machines so that they remain the most reliable and branded sewing machine brands ever.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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