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Low Shank Vs High Shank Sewing Machine: The Main Differences

Sewing machines are not very complicated, but that’s understandable only if you have been using one for years now! As some of you may know, different names tell us about sewing machines in general: heavy-duty, low-shank, high-shank, and many more.

Our concern today is regarding the last two names, which are low-shank and high-shank machines! In this article, you will find a battle regarding low-shank vs. high-shank sewing machines!

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Some very famous names regarding sewing machines are low shank and high shank.
  • Low shank sewing machines are those with a shorter rod between the presser foot and the attachment screw.
  • High shank sewing machines are ones with a height of one inch. They are found in industrial machines rather than regularly used ones.
  • Length and Purpose of Usage are the primary differences between sewing machines with low shanks and those with high shanks.

Low Shank vs High Shank Sewing Machine: What are they?

Even though I am a sewing machine and tailoring professional, nothing makes sewing machines easy to understand. There are different pieces and names that talk about them; one of those names is SHANK. First, I would like to tell you the exact definition of shank in sewing machines.

Shank in a sewing machine refers to a piece of metal rod that helps for the connection of the presser foot on the sewing machine. It is a piece of the sewing machine that you own.

Low-Shank Sewing Machines

Low-shank sewing machines are those machines that have a smaller rod when it comes to the attachment screw and the presser foot of the machine. In case your machine is a low-shank, you will find the measurements of half an inch (1/2) while measuring the space between the screw and the foot.

These types of machines are the most usable ones, and they help in a variety of things. Low-shank machines are known to be very flexible and easy to be used for different projects that you may have.

By the way, sewing machines with a low shank are mostly used for home purposes, meaning they are kind of “private” sewing machines if I might say so!

High-Shank Sewing Machines

Moving on, we have the high-shank sewing machines, which have a bigger rod in this case, and it again is the measurement of the spaces. If once you do the measurements, you get the one inch or above, you are free to say that you have a high-shank sewing machine.

High-shank sewing machines are mostly used in industry, as they are the ones that are made for heavy use in general, and with them, you can work on different things. It is important to mention that high shanks are mostly found in embroidery or quilting machines. They are basically made for heavier jobs. However, you can also use high-shank machines in your houses without any problem.

Low Shank vs. High Shank Sewing Machine: Main Differences

Now that you know what are low-shank and high-shank machines exactly, I would like to mention some specifications and compare them based on them, of course, by telling you whether there is a difference or not. Let me tell you more!

Design and Build Quality

To be honest, there is nothing to compare regarding the design as these machines are totally the same when you look at them. These types of machines are well-built as well, as they mostly include metal as the base material used. Yet again, the difference may be in the dimensions. As I mentioned above, high-shank machines, being used as industrials, you will find slightly bigger when compared to the low-shank ones.


When I say length, it should be clear enough that I am talking about the exact measurements that I mentioned above, where I told you the direct measurements of the space between the screw and the presser foot. Again mentioning, low-shank machines measure 1/2 inches; meanwhile, high-shank ones are one inch or above.

Presser Foot

A sewing machine has a best friend, and it is no other than the presser foot, which is the main thing needed in order to use that particular machine. When it comes to low or high shank, you will not find a difference in the presser foot, but still, there are a few presser feet that you may want to check out and use for your specific sewing machine. For a high shank machine, you need a high shank presser foot; meanwhile, for a low shank sewing machine, you need a low shank presser foot.

Purpose of Usage

Here we are at the main difference between these two types of machines, which is the way you use them and for what you use them. If you are a fan of quilting, you will notice that the machines used by those tailors are the high-shank ones, and that’s because quilting means stitching three layers of fabric, and a low-shank machine cannot accept them all. Meanwhile, based on what I said regarding quilting, you will find low-shank sewing machines used on a daily basis, meaning that they are the regular machines that most “clothes tailors” use.


Sewing machines never come at the same price as there are different things to consider, especially based on what type of machine you need to purchase and use. You will notice that the high shank machines come at high-end prices when compared to the low shank machines. Since they are made more specifically for industrial usage, high shank machines are a little bit pricey when compared to low shank ones that we use more regularly.

Closing Words

Unfortunately, the majority of high shank machines cannot use the several presser feet that are now on the market, making them a poor option for hobbyists. But, hey, you don’t have to get discouraged, because low shank machines are just what you need.

If you are a beginner and you are passionate about sewing, then a low shank machine will work on various ideas of yours. But what distinguishes a low shank from a high shank?

You have the answer to that question in this article and I hope I have written it as clearly as possible. I hope that you will find this article helpful and that you will be able to know the main differences between low and high-shank sewing machines.

Further Reading

If you are happy with what you have read in this article, you can always continue to read in order to enhance your sewing knowledge or read just for fun.

If you are starting a new job and you are thinking to get a few new shirts, and your favorite and most suitable material is linen, then you need to know if cotton shrink, because you would want to go to that new job with a shrunk shirt and not be presentable.

Furthermore, you can continue reading about rayon vs nylon and know where they differ or what are the factors that mark their differences.