Which Foot Should I Use? High Shank vs. Low Shank

When you are purchasing a ruler foot for Free Motion Quilting (FMQ), you need to know if your sewing machine has a high shank or a low shank. The shank is the part of the sewing machine that the foot attaches to, and there are special feet made for both types. Most domestic machines are low shank, but you should check your machine before purchasing a ruler foot for FMQ.


To determine if your machine is a high shank or low shank machine, you need to measure the distance between the bottom of the presser foot and the thumb screw ( the screw that holds the foot in place.) Follow these steps to measure the shank length.

  1. Lower the presser foot down.
  2. Take a measuring tape and measure from the bottom of the presser foot to the center of the thumb screw.
  3. If the distance is ¾” or shorter (most will be ½”), then you have a low shank machine.
  4. If the distance is 1” or longer, you have a high shank machine. 

how to choose which ruler foot to use high shank vs low shank

Once you know the shank height, you can purchase the correct ruler foot for FMQ. Either high shank  or low shank. You can’t use a high shank foot on a low shank machine and vice versa, so be sure to purchase the correct type. 

We hope this has helped you understand the different types of quilting and the different feet available to achieve these different quilting styles. Our goal is to inspire and help you reach your full quilting abilities.

Remember, with a bit of practice and determination; you can figure out all the different types of quilting and create beautiful quilts for yourself and your loved ones. You can always use our Free Motion Quilting Templates to make the process easier!  



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