Tuesday’s Tip….Sewing Machine Bobbin Tips

The correct bobbin for your particular machine and having it wound appropriately can make your sewing time much more productive without frustration. Here are a few tips about sewing machine bobbins.

bobbin storage

1. You always need MORE sewing machine bobbins.
How many bobbins do you really need? In a recent survey, the average sewer said they had  between 20-30 sewing machine bobbins for each machine they owned. Once you are around the quilting community for a while, you will appreciate that different machines offer specific features and benefits. Eg. newer electronic machines can do “blanket stitch” for appliqué whilst a coveted Singer Featherweight is portable and indestructible to transport to classes, retreats and off to vacation properties. Many of us quilters are very proud of the five or more machines we have in our studios!

Most sewing machines come with 3-5 bobbins when you buy them which sounds like enough, but sewers often need more bobbins to accommodate the variety of thread colours they sew with. Keep buying sewing machine bobbins as you purchase fabrics for your projects. You will eventually have enough.

2. 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 in your particular machine. Bobbins are made specific for each sewing and embroidery machine and there are many different types and classifications of machine bobbins. If we don’t have the bobbin you need for your particular machine(s) at the store, we will refer you to our sewing machine mechanic for assistance.

different bobbins

3. 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. Also if the bobbin is wound unevenly it can wobble in your machine and become an issue.

4. 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. Refer to your manual or machine dealer to see which bobbin is correct for your model of machine.

5. Bobbins must be inserted to spin the correct direction.
Many machines have a picture to remind you which way a bobbin should spin. Refer to your machine manual or machine dealer to ensure that you are inserting the bobbin into the machine correctly.

inserting bobbin

6. 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.

7. WORST thing for a sewing machine mechanic to find in a sewing machines’ accessory box.
When a sewing machine mechanic opens your machine and sees a wide 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 your machine manual or with your machine dealer as to which bobbins are right for your machine.

8. Buy more bobbins.
As you learn to do different quilting tasks, you will need more bobbins. Different thread weights are used for piecing your quilt top, machine quilting and/or decorative topstitching. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different thread types but take some time to learn what their function is and how you can achieve different stitches. I like to have bobbins wound with threads for piecing a quilt top, machine quilting and for blanket stitching appliqués. It’s very hand to store the bobbin with the matching thread spool together so that they are accessible for the next project.

One thought on “Tuesday’s Tip….Sewing Machine Bobbin Tips

  1. Thanks so much for the very comprehensive and helpful list of bobbin dos and don’t s.
    I’m a newish sewer/sometime quilter and this is valuable for me to know!

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