The first question to answer is how old is your machine? Most machines made since 1980 use snap-on feet (Except Berninas, which have their own style of attaching, and therefore need an adaptor).
Does your machine's foot screw-on or snap-on? If it doesn't use a screw to attach, then it's a snap-on.
Snap-on feet will usually work with both low & high shank machines with the appropriate max. stitch width. Screw-on feet will only work with low or high shank machines depending machine type. However, you can turn a high shank sewing machine into a low shank model using an adaptor (but not the other way around).
If it screws on it is important to know whether your machine is a low shank, medium shank, high shank, or slant needle machine. If you are not certain, you can measure using the simple instructions below:
When presser foot is down, measure the distance from the bottom of foot to screw-hole that holds the foot onto the presser bar.
LOW SHANK: 1/2” from screw hole to needle plate (bottom of foot) - with presser foot bar in the down position
MEDIUM SHANK: 3-1/4” from screw hole to needle plate (bottom of foot) - with presser foot bar in the down position
HIGH SHANK: 1” from screw hole to needle plate (bottom of foot) - with presser foot bar in the down position
- Most machines made since 1980 use snap-on feet. (Except Berninas that have their own style of attaching, and therefore need an adaptor).
- If foot is not screwed on, it is a snap-on.
- All Viking machines are snap-on.
- Most Japanese made machines are snap-on (Janome, Brother)
- All Berninas need "Low Shank Adaptor" and use generic low shank feet.
- Singer Slant IS FOR SINGER SLANT MACHINES only. (All other Singers have snap-on or screw on feet.)
- All Featherweights use low shank feet. They are center needle position machines.
- For super high-bar lever-style Kenmore, use a High-bar adaptor.
- Sergers are called Overlock Machines everywhere except in Canada & USA.
- All PFAFF machines with IDT are Medium Shank
Generic Feet Should Not be Used on High End Sewing Machines
What qualifies as a “High End” sewing machine? Sewing machine brands such as Janome, Brother/Babylock, PFAFF, Bernina, Husqvarna-Viking each have brand-specific presser feet.
Things That Don’t Always Line Up with Generic Presser Feet
It may or may not have a wide enough zig-zag opening that matches your sewing machine’s stitch width. Selecting a full width stitch with a presser foot with a small width will break the needle and can harm the sewing machine.
Not all generic feet have the same measured distance for the needle. If the needle does not align centered in the foot left to right and from front to back, could cause excess rubbing against the foot while sewing.
The foot may not correctly align with the sewing machines feed dogs for accurate feeding of the fabric. This is like driving an unaligned vehicle down the road. It is neither easy nor safe.
After time, the coating on the underneath side of generic feet will often be worn off from the sewing machines feed dogs. Without a smooth under surface, presser feet can snag delicate fabric and not glide correctly over the fabric. This will look and feel like the foot is sticking to the fabric.
Can I turn a high shank machine into a low shank?
Yes! Using a Low Shank Adapter. This way you can use low shank feet on your high shank machine.
The low shank adapter is a piece of metal that allows you to turn a high shank sewing machine into a low shank model. It also allows different brands to be able to use different presser feet.
There are two types of presser feet and this information is important because you may need to use the adapter to fit the presser feet onto your machine. One style is the snap-on presser foot and the other is the screw in version.
You will need an adapter for the Husqvarna Viking machines as they do not accommodate the snap-on style. Also, certain Bernina sewing machines will require an adapter if you want to use the presser foot from other machines.
The unique thing about Bernina machines is that they have developed their own shank and presser foot system which no one else uses. Their clip-on system is theirs and theirs alone.
That means that when you want to use a universal presser foot, you have to purchase the Bernina adapter and that part number may be 77. PFAFF also uses a different system, but it is a snap-on variety which just doesn’t line up with the other snap-on adapters.
You can use a low shank snap-on universal adapter with PFAFF. Once you put that on, you can use just about any low shank presser foot.