Anyone who is even slightly familiar to the world of sewing would have come across different types of sewing machines. These include low shank, high shank, and the now-rare slanted shank sewing machines. Each of these types serves specific purposes and are suitable for different types of users. Many experts argue that a low shank sewing machine is the best option for beginners and hobbyists.
However, these terms might be overwhelming for newcomers. Before you take the plunge and make a purchase, you should understand what a low shank sewing machine is. Additionally, you should analyze whether it will meet your needs and aspirations. This will help you make an informed decision and select the right sewing machine.
If you are wondering what is a low shank sewing machine and want to know about its benefits, this blog is meant for you. However, before we delve deeper, let us first understand the meaning of a shank in the realm of sewing machines.
Simply put, the shank is the metal rod to which the presser foot of your sewing machine is attached. The length of the shank determines the distance between the bottom of the presser foot and the attachment screw. This, in turn, dictates the type of sewing machine.
Image via MadamSew
For instance, if the foot-to-screw distance measures 1 or 1 ¼ inches, you have what is called a high shank sewing machine. Such machines are mostly used for commercial purposes as well as quilting. Necchi and Kenmore are popular manufacturers of high shank sewing machines.
Likewise, if you shank is inclined and the foot-to-screw distance measures 1 ⅛ inch, it denotes a slanted shank sewing machine. These machines were manufactured by Singer in the 1960s and 1970s and are rarely used nowadays. However, if you have one at home, you can search online for presser feet and accessories for this machine.
A few new-age sewing machines have ditched the screw-on presser feet altogether. Instead, they use snap-on presser feet and are considered to be low shank sewing machines.
This brings us to the most-awaited topic – what is a low shank sewing machine. Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Low Shank Sewing Machine?
As discussed previously, the distance between the bottom of the presser foot and the attachment screw determines the type of sewing machine. A low shank sewing machine is characterized by a foot-to-screw distance of ¾ inch. It is the most common type of sewing machine you will likely find in the market.
Image via Annie’s Catalog
A few popular examples of popular low shank sewing machines include the Singer Heavy Duty 4452 and Singer Heavy Duty 4423. Most professionals and experts in the world of sewing will vouch for the versatility of low shank sewing machines. That is why they recommend this category of machines as a good starting point for beginners.
Now that we know what is a low shank sewing machine, it is time to understand why they are so popular.
Benefits of a Low Shank Sewing Machine
If you are a beginner or hobbyist, you will likely want to buy a sewing machine that will last you for years. You want a machine that can tackle newer tasks and challenges as you continue to upgrade your skills. You want the flexibility to try your hands at newer and advanced techniques without having to buy a new machine. A low shank sewing machine fits the bill because of its versatility.
This is because these machines are compatible with a wide range of presser feet that can be used for various purposes. For instance, if you want to sew presentable zipper coils, you can use a zipper foot. Likewise, you can use a blind hem foot to create neat and seamless hems for skirts and dresses. Moreover, a buttonhole foot lets you quickly create consistent buttonholes. You can even use a jeans foot to sew denim and other tough fabric.
Whatever be the task at hand, you will find a specialized presser foot that fits your low shank sewing machine. That is why such a machine is considered to be the most flexible and versatile option for beginners. Additionally, it is easier to use and gives you the liberty to experiment with different stitches and techniques.
It is also worth mentioning that a low shank sewing machine is an extremely cost-effective option for beginners. This is because such a machine will efficiently tackle all the challenges you throw its way. It eliminates the need to go hunting for a more advanced sewing machine once you have mastered the basic stitches.
In all likelihood, it is a smart one-time investment that will last you for years. Unless you want to sew on an industrial scale or create elaborate quilts, a these machines are your best bet.
The sheer variety of sewing machines available in the market can be overwhelming. Identifying the right machine based on your needs and expertise is extremely crucial. While high shank sewing machines are useful for commercial purposes, the low shank ones are suitable for beginners.
The biggest advantage of low shank sewing machines is their versatility owing to the wide array of compatible presser feet. From sewing consistent buttonholes to invisible hemlines – you will find a specialized presser foot that fits your low shank sewing machine. That is why it is such a popular choice among novices and hobbyists.
Have you ever used a low shank sewing machine? How did you like it? Share your views in the comments section below.