Why Size Shank Matters in my Sewing Machine?

Posted by Alfonsina Uriburu on

Some of the most popular specialty feet -Walking Foot and Darning Foot free-motion or ruler foot, for example - are screw-on, which means you need to take off the ankle and fasten these feet on, by screwing them in place.

The best way to find out if a particular foot is right for your machine, first you need to understand what sort of sewing machine you’re trying to fit.

Most of the presser feet that come with your sewing machine are flat, and they snap-on to the “ankle” thing called foot holder/adapter. 

With the screw-on feet, the height of shank matters so that the foot fits correctly. The diagram below shows you how to measure your shank height so that you can find the right foot for your machine.

How to determine Shank Size

Shanks are necessary to provide space for the fabric to sit in between the button and the garment.

Figure out whether your machine is low shank or high shank:

With your machine’s PRESSER FOOT LEVER down position, and your needle in its lowest place, measure from the flatbed of the machine to the center of thumbscrew.

  • Low Shank machine measures about 1/2” inch.
  • High Shank machine measures 1” inch.
Slant Shank measures 1” inch too, but they are in old Singer slant needle machines only. These are rare, and they are tricky to fit, though you won’t have to worry about it (unless you have one).

    what size shank is my machine

     I have a BERNINA; what size my shank is?

    BERNINA has its unique foot, and the mechanism is different from all machines. 
    The foot to use with the rulers is number #72. The walking foot slowly was replaced for the Dual feed option, even though many people still love their walking foot for straight quilting.
    The short shank adaptor #77 is the correct one to transform the Bernina machines into a low shank machine, and you can adapt any snap-on feet.
    The adaptor #75 is a screw-on shank for adjusting generic ruler feet or any other foot.

    Bernina model type: 

    The BSA4 "New style" adaptor fits the following Bernina sewing machine models date AFTER the year 2000: Activa: 210, 215, 220, 230, 240. Artista: 165, 170, 180, 200, 630, 635, 640, 730...

    Description "Old style" presser foot adapter for Bernina sewing machines, to allow use of screw-on feet. This presser foot fits all "OLD STYLE" ...
    Bernina adaptor
    Old Style open "U" shape on top & New style closed.

    What type of foot is my longarm machine?

    It is higher than a high shank, and it is unique for each brand. Some machines need a converter kit to use different feet. 
    For ruler work, the thicker, the better, the 1/4 ich rounded foot it´s the appropriated. Not all the machines come with this one included, so I suggest to find out if your manufacturer has the right one.

    Other types of shanks

    Industrial machines like JUKI or straight stitching sewing machines are higher than high too. You have to make sure when buying presser foot what sort of machine you have.
    Pfaff branded machines, have some different models categorized as medium size shank and are 3/4" from the needle plate to the hole of the shank screw.
    When ordering the ruler foot in our store, check the shank in your machine, to ensure you are ordering the correct style straight stitch foot.
    Most domestic machines have LOW shanks. That means if you don’t know what sort of shank your machine has, chances are it has LOW shank. Easy!
    High Shank sewing machines are generally “fancy” embroidery models, which are more costly, and those who invest in these models tend to know what shank type it is.

    Do I need a shank adaptor for the 32 Foot Kit?

    It doesn´t matter if your machine is a low hank or a high shank when the feet are snap-on.
    Other options for specialty feet
    If you want to use a screw-on foot, like the walking foot, then you need to find the appropriate high or low foot for your sewing machine. 
    If you have a fancy high-end sewing machine, do not miss the opportunity to expand your sewing repertoire using all types of feet; any screw-on short foot with a high shank adaptor can be used, for these high shank sewing machines.

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    • Love this site! :}

      - Marsha

      Marsha on
    • Thank you for taking the time to explain in the most detailed way the low high and slant feet attachments work which has helped enormously. I have a singer tempo 9008 and now think a slant gathering foot is right for me. Have a good day. Thanks again

      Penny on

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