Understanding sewing machine shanks & presser feet | MadamSew
- An Kesenne
About Sewing Machine Shanks and Presser Feet
Will this sewing machine foot fit my sewing machine? Depending on the way a sewing machine is built, the shank can be high, low or slanted and is equipped to use snap-on, screw-on or clip-on presser feet. Some brands, like Bernina, have their very own presser foot system. Let’s clarify this for you so you know whether or not these presser feet will fit your machine. Maybe you just need an adapter to use our wonderful sewing aids.
On the sewing market, you can find a wide range of different sewing machine presser feet designed to make different types of sewing tasks easier and help you to become more productive in your sewing and quilting.
In our online sewing and quilting tools webstore "MadamSew.com" we sell a wide range of universal presser feet. Our feet are designed to fit as many types of sewing machines possible. We also have 3 types of adapters to make them fit even more sewing machines.
Some sewing terminology used in this blog post might be new to you. In the image below you can see the different parts of a sewing machine around the shank, the presser foot and the needle to help you understand what I am talking about later in this tutorial.
1. Do You Have a High or a Low Shank Machine?
Most domestic machines are LOW shank. If you don’t know what kind of shank your machine is, chances are it’s LOW shank. HIGH Shank machines are generally more “fancy” and expensive, embroidery models or industrial machines. I think most people who have these, know that they have a HIGH shank. But there’s an easy way to know for sure. Here we go...
You need to measure. Grab a small ruler. I made a little cardboard 2” ruler to show you.
- Put your presser foot in the down position.
- Measure from the bed of the machine to the center of the thumb screw (presser foot holder screw).
- 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. In the pictures you see a Pfaff machine (green plastic) and a Brother Innovis Anniversary (the bigger image). If you measure 1 inch or longer, you have a HIGH shank machine.
If you have an old Singer machine and the length is 3/4 to 1 inch, you might own a slant shank, but these are really rare.
Bernina sewing machines have a completely different presser foot system, they are not high or low shank, they are just … Bernina.
2. What Type of Presser Foot ?
SNAP-ON PRESSER FEET
In this picture above you can see some of our snap-on feet:
What they have in common is the small bar at the back of the presser foot. That is where your sewing machine’s presser foot holder snaps on to. The presser foot holder is a part of your sewing machine that is attached to the shank of your machine with a screw.
You snap the presser foot on and off your presser foot holder by pushing a little button at the back of the presser foot holder or just pull the presser foot down and it will let go.
The good news: Snap-on presser feet work on both HIGH and LOW shank sewing machines with a snap-on system. So, in order to use snap-on feet the hight of your shank is not so important.
Most brands use the same universal snap-on system and that is the snap-on system we use on our universal snap-on presser feet. Some brands, like Pfaff have a different snap-on system though. However, with a suitable adapter you can use all our universal snap-on presser feet on a Pfaff sewing machine.
SCREW-ON PRESSER FEET
In this picture you can see 3 screw-on presser feet. You need a little screwdriver to remove and attach the foot on your sewing machine.
The screw-on presser feet in the image are
If your machine uses snap-on presser feet, you can also use screw-on presser feet. You just remove the presser foot holder and attach the screw on foot. If your machine doesn't use snap on feet and you always have to use a screw to remove a presser foot. Your presser foot and presser foot holder are in 1 piece. In this case you have a screw-on sewing machine and you will need the low shank snap-on adapter to use snap-on feet. But this adapter will only fit your machine, if it is low shank. I'll explain this further on.
As you can see in the GIF below, you first remove your regular screw-on foot or your machine’s presser foot holder plus snap-on foot and then you screw on the new presser foot on the shank.
BERNINA PRESSER FEET (clip-on)
Bernina is one of those brands that has a specific clip-on system that no other brand uses. To use universal presser feet on a Bernina sewing machine you will need a Bernina adapter.
OVERVIEW PRESSER FEET
3. Do you need an adapter to use our universal snap-on presser feet?
Our universal snap-on presser feet can be used on many sewing machines. Most people will be able to use them without the need for an adapter, some will need one. Read on to find out if you need an adapter and if so, which one.
From what you read above, you now know
- wheter you have a high or low shank machine and
- if your machine is made for both snap-on and screw-on feet or just serves screw-on presser feet.
I will go over 5 possible scenario's for you
- low shank snap-on sewing machine
- low shank screw-on sewing machine
- high shank snap-on sewing machine
- high shank screw-on sewing machine
- Bernina sewing machine
A. Low shank, snap-on sewing machines
Most brands use the same, universal snap-on system for their presser feet. The MadamSew presser feet also have that universal snap-on system that is widly used. That makes the MadamSew presser feet snap-on easily on most sewing machines. So in this situation you do not need an adapter.
Some brands, most notably PFAFF, have a different snap-on system. Their snap on bar has a different length. Some Husqvarna Viking owners also let us know the snap-on feet don't fit. Universal snap-on presser feet can be used with these sewing machines when using a universal low shank snap-on adapter. In fact, you just replace the presser foot holder with the adapter and the presser feet will fit. This low-shank snap-on adapter is included in our big presser feet sets, like the BIG FIVE PRESSER FOOT SET, the Ultimate 32 Pieces Presser Foot Set and the Sew Straight Set.
B. Low shank, screw-on sewing machines
If your sewing machine uses screw-on presser feet, you will need the universal low shank snap-on adapter to be able to use our universal snap-on presser feet. This adapter attaches to your sewing machine in exactly the same way as your screw-on presser feet.
C. High Shank, Snap-On Sewing Machines
Most brands use the same, universal snap-on system for their presser feet. The MadamSew presser feet also have that universal snap-on system. That makes the MadamSew presser feet snap-on easily to most sewing machines. So in this situation you do not need an adapter.
Some brands, most notably PFAFF, have a different snap-on system. Universal snap-on presser feet can be used with Pfaff sewing machines if you use a universal high shank snap-on adapter.
If you want to use a certain screw-on presser foot on a high shank machine, you need to look for presser feet that are specifically made for high shank machines. The universal low shank presser feet will unfourtunately not fit.
D. High shank, screw-on sewing machines
If your sewing machine uses screw-on presser feet, you will need the universal high shank snap-on adapter to be able to use our universal snap-on presser feet. This adapter attaches to your sewing machine in exactly the same way as your screw-on presser feet.
E. Bernina sewing machines
4. Can You Use the MadamSew Low Shank Screw-On Presser Feet?
This one is very easy….
If you have a low shank sewing machine: yes
If you have a high shank sewing machine: no (and there is no adapter to fix this)
If you have a Bernina sewing machine: yes, you will need a specific Bernina adapter
5. The adapters
Above you learned if you need an adapter and if so, what adapter you need. Here I explain how to use the different adapters.
A. The Low Shank Snap-On Adapter
In the GIF you can see how you put the low shank snap on adapter on your machine. You screw off the presser foot holder or your screw-on presser foot and screw on the adapter. Now you can snap on our feet.
B. The High Shank Snap-On Adapter
You just screw the high shank snap-on adapter on to your presser bar after you've screwn off your regular presser foot and you can snap our universal presser feet on and off.
C. The Bernina Adapters
There are 2 types of adapters, one for the machines before 1996 and one for the models after 1996. To use the snap on presser feet, you will need the low shank snap on adapter as well. For our screw on feet, you won’t. To choose the right Bernina adapter, we listed the models for you:
Old style = before 1996 Models
OLD STYLE: 530, 532, 534, 540, 600, 610, 640, 642, 644, 700, 707, 708, 709, 717, 718, 719, 730, 731, 732, 740, 741, 742, 744, 800, 801, 802, 803, 807, 808, 809, 810, 811, 817, 818, 819, 830, 831, 832, 840, 841, 842, 850, 900, 910, 930, 931, 932, 940, 950, 1000, 1001, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1008, 1010, 1011, 1015, 1020, 1030, 1031, 1080, 1090, 1120, 1130, 1230, 1260, 1530, 1630
New style = from 1996 Models
NEW STYLE: 215, 330, 350, 380, 530, 550, 560, 570, 580, 710, 720, 740, 750, 765, 770, 780, 790, 820, 880, Activa 240, 230, 220, 210, 145, 140, 135, 131, 130, 125, Artista 730, 640, 635, 630, 200, 185, 180, 170, 165 Aurora 450, 440, 435, 430 Virtuosa 163, 160, 155, 153, 150
The Ultimate Presser Foot Set
* If you notice that your needle touches the presser foot, then try it with the included adapter. In some cases it works perfectly with a certain machine type and for some reason with the same type, the needle touches the foot. So always test with your hand wheel before you stitch.. If the set or a presser foot doesn't fit your machine we will issue you a full refund, no questions asked.
Wow, congratulations! You made it all the way to the end of this technical post. Technical stuff is not my favorite, I rather write about creating beautiful things. But I actually enjoyed making this overview. As we get a lot of questions asking if a foot fits a specific machine, I know it will help a lot of our customers to get a better idea of what they need (or don’t need) to start using our oh so useful universal presser feet.
And I remember very well how I felt when I discovered all the amazing things I could do with specialty presser feet.
If you have any more questions or hesitations about this, don’t hesitate to send me an email email@example.com.
Have fun sewing and discovering how easy it is to use specialty presser feet! We have clear tutorials, manuals and instruction videos for every single presser foot we have in our store. Check out all the videos on YouTube, our sewing blog with a lot of sewing and quilting inspiration and all the online manuals on our webstore. All free for you to use and have more sewing fun!
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