Today we are going to be discussing about what exactly a bobbin is, what bobbins are used for, How to Thread a Sewing Machine Bobbin and the 10 Things you must know about a Sewing Machine Bobbin.
Now just relax let’s get started!
What is a Sewing Machine Bobbin?
In sewing, a bobbin is a small metal, wood, or plastic wheel or reel design that holds thread. The thread is wrapped around a small cylinder that is attached to thin wheels on either end. Without a sewing machine, a bobbin has the same role as any spool of thread. However, a bobbin is an incredibly important piece of a sewing machine.
What is a Sewing Machine Bobbin Used For?
A bobbin is used for sewing thread. Outside of sewing, bobbins can be similar to cylinders or cones and will hold yarn, wire, or other similar weaving materials. Basically, any thin material that can be coiled can then be held with a bobbin.
Inside a sewing machine, a bobbin is used alongside another piece of thread to correctly sew anything pushed through the machine. A spool holds a thread somewhere on the top or side of a machine. That thread is fed through a series of loops and into the eye of the needle.
As mentioned in the introduction, the purpose of the bobbin is to hold the thread that is held below the needle. The thread from the bobbin goes up through the plate and connects with the top thread to create a sturdy stitch when the machine is in use.
In sewing, bobbins are small notions that are available to buy alone, with thread, and will most likely come with a machine if it’s one of the parts utilized. In a sewing machine, the bobbin is placed under the needle in a special compartment.
Bobbins can be inserted either as is or must be inserted into a bobbin case. Bobbins are often metal, like this one, though they can also be made of plastic (usually clear).
The image below shows an example of what a bobbin and a bobbin case look like on a standard machine. The bobbin has purple thread already wrapped around the inside cylinder.
How to Thread a Sewing Machine Bobbin
1. Threading a Sewing Machine Bobbin
Threading the bobbin of a sewing machine is not a difficult task if you take the thread through the necessary guides and tension controls so the thread is smoothly and evenly wound on the bobbin when you are finished.
Having the thread even and smooth will assist in properly formed stitches. Just remember, looping and tangled bobbin thread when you are sewing usually is not caused by the bobbin. The culprit usually is an error in the upper threading of the sewing machine.
- Place a spool of thread securely on the spool pin.
- Take the thread to a thread guide that is closest to the spool pin but heading for the bobbin and guides the thread into the guide.
- There will be some sort of a guide that might look like a button or disk that the thread will go under or between to hold tension on the thread before it goes to the bobbin.
- If the bobbin has a hole in the side of it, thread the hole so the tail of thread is on the outside of the bobbin and place the bobbin on the final part of the bobbin winding area.
- If there is no hole in the bobbin, place the bobbin on the last spot of the bobbin winding area and wind the thread around the bobbin a few times, leaving just enough thread tail so that you can hold the thread tail while the bobbin starts to wind. You can trim this thread once the bobbin starts to fill or you can just let go of that thread tail and allow it to wind on the bobbin. The less tail you have the better so that the thread does not tangle on the bobbin and create problems later when that part of the bobbin is being used while you sew.
2. Engaging the Bobbin Winding
For the thread to be placed on the bobbin, the bobbin-threading mechanism must be engaged on the sewing machine. All machines are different but they all need you to engage the bobbin winding in one form or another.
The brake might move toward the bobbin that is about to be wound or the bobbin on the holder might move toward the brake.
The center of the handwheel at the end of the machine might need to be loosened to engage the winding process on your sewing machine.
Power the machine via the foot pedal or a start button on electronic machines. If the brake is properly set, the machine should stop winding on most machines when the thread fills the bobbin.
3. Bobbin Threading Dos and Don’ts
- The thread on a bobbin should be as smoothly wound as the thread on a purchased spool of thread.
- The thread on a bobbin should not exceed the size of the bobbin. (The brake may have been adjusted if the thread on the bobbin exceeds the edges of the bobbin and will need to be readjusted so the threading stops before the bobbin is over-wound.)
- Never use a rough rusty bobbin in a sewing machine. If you are desperate to use a rusty bobbin, sand off any rust and oil the bobbin enough to prevent it from rusting again until you can get to the store and replace the rusty bobbin.
- Bobbins are not interchangeable between different machines. Bobbins are less expensive than sewing machine needles. Visit a local dealer or a reputable online dealer to get the bobbin that is correct for your machine.
- Order extra bobbins for your machine so you can have bobbins ready to use when you change the color thread on your sewing machine.
- Thread labeled “bobbin thread” in stores is a very lightweight thread used for machine embroidery or machine basting. It shouldn’t be used for normal sewing. For regular sewing, use the same thread that you use in the upper threading of the sewing machine.
- When you are sewing and the bobbin thread knots up or creates wads of thread, as much as it seems like it is caused by the bobbin, it is usually caused by the top threading of the machine or the sewing machine needle. See more on machine troubleshooting and solutions to loopy, knotting bobbin thread.
- A bobbin case must be threaded with the thread that comes off the bobbin. A bobbin is placed into a removable bobbin case so the thread and the slot form an upside-down “V” shape. The thread is passed under the metal and out the side of the bobbin case.
- A drop-in bobbin is a bobbin that is placed from the top or directly under where the fabric would be while you are sewing. A drop-in bobbin also has a threading pattern that must be followed for the upper thread to form stitches with the bobbin thread.
10 Things you must know about a Sewing Machine Bobbin
Here are the most common questions and answers we help be with on a regular basis.
1. You always need MORE sewing machine bobbins
How many bobbins do you really need? We took a survey at a recent Sewtopia Sewing Club and the average amount our club members said they had was between 20 – 30 sewing machine bobbins for each machine they owned. Yes, many of them own different brands of machines.
Many of our customers SEW on Bernina sewing machines and EMBROIDER on a Husqvarna Viking machine. Wonder why so many of our customers are multi-sew-lingual? Come in and see for yourself!
2. Buy a pack of bobbins every time you visit your favorite sewing machine store
Most sewing machines come with 3-5 bobbins when buy them. So many people say that is enough bobbins when they are just starting out, but then we see them back within a few days saying they need more. Keep buying sewing machine bobbins at each time you visit our store. You eventually will have enough.
3. You MUST use the bobbins that are made for your machine
Just because you like the color blue does not mean you can use these bobbins. These bobbins are made specific for a Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC sewing and embroidery machine.
4. Plastic bobbins can bulge if filled with too much tension or too tightly
Filling a sewing machine bobbin too tightly can make a plastic bobbin bulge. This is hard to see the problem, but the bobbin ends up too tall for machine and will cause an awful mess in the bobbin area.
5. Plastic bobbins and metal bobbins of the same size can NOT be swapped
Machines are set for a very precise tension setting. If they are set for a lighter plastic bobbin, the tension will change if a heavier metal bobbin is used.
6. Bernina Users – This is NOT your bobbin!
Bernina bobbins are milled and generic bobbins are stamped. The difference is night and day. If your machine takes a generic metal bobbin you CAN use a Bernina bobbin. It will be much smoother for your machine.
7. Bobbins must be inserted to spin the correct direction
Many machines have a picture to remind you which way a bobbin should spin.
8. Do not leave this thread tail sticking up!
This tail will interfere with the forming and the connecting of the top thread with the bobbin thread with EVERY stitch made. Be sure to cut this tail off so nothing sticks up.
9. This is one of the WORST things for a sewing machine mechanic to find in a sewing machines’ accessory box
When a sewing machine mechanic opens your machine and seeing a variety of bobbin types mixed together and none of them are the correct bobbin for the machine, this is a guarantee way to make them cringe.
This is a huge NO-NO! Just because bobbins came with the machine when you received it second hand, does not mean that last person was using a correct bobbin. Do you really have the right bobbin? Double check with your local sewing machine as to which bobbins are right for your machine.
10. Buy more Sewing Machine Bobbins
Tired of winding more than one color on a bobbin? Refer back to #1…Buy more bobbins!