What Is A Bobbin On A Sewing Machine?

If you just got your sewing machine and can’t quite figure out what the bobbin’s meant for, don’t panic. As far as knowledge is concerned, there’s always a first time. A sewing machine bobbin is an essential part that you can’t overlook in any machine model. Read on to learn more about what bobbins are and their specific functions in a sewing machine.

What Is A Bobbin On A Sewing Machine?

A bobbin is a small wood, plastic wood, or metal that holds your sewing machine thread in place. There is a small cylinder attached to the bobbin’s thin wheels and it is where the thread is wrapped around. Remove the sewing machine and a bobbin is basically another spool of thread.

Bobbins have unique qualities that makes them an essential part of a sewing machine. As you garner more experience as a sewer, you’ll need to learn how many bobbins you need, how to choose a bobbin for your machine and how to wind up a bobbin.

What Are Bobbins Used For

In simple terms, a bobbin is used for holding threads. Bobbins share similarities with cones and cylinders. They hold wires, yarn, and other weaving materials. If you can coil any thin material, you should be able to hold it with a bobbin. Inside sewing machines, bobbins are used with an extra piece of thread to sew any fabric pushed through the machine correctly.

A spool grabs a thread at the side or on top of a machine. To get through the eye of the needle, the thread is passed through a series of loops. As I mentioned earlier, the bobbin’s main purpose is to support the thread which is held below the sewing machine needle. The thread moves from the bobbin, through the plates and connects with the top thread to form a sturdy stitch while the sewing machine is in use.

Bobbins are available to buy as a standalone accessory, with a thread or as part of a sewing machine. Bobbins can be inserted in a case or just as it is. Although often made of metal, they can also be made of plastic.

Essential Parts of a Sewing Machine Bobbin

The following are parts of the bobbin

  • Bobbin Tension: Bobbins have their very own tension system. You may not have to touch this part if you’re still a beginner sewer. All you need to know at the moment is that the bobbin tension can be reset to suit your taste. Untill you have the necessary experience to do so, it’s best to allow the bobbin tension to remain in its factory settings
  • Bobbin Winder: Most sewing machines features an inbuilt bobbin winding system. They function as a thread loader. The key to loading a thread properly is to ensure the thread pool is feeding directly to the bobbin without any disruptions. Like a thread spool, a bobbin should be wind evenly. No tangles or knots should be formed, neither should any end be thicker than the other. If you see the formation of a tangle, unwind your thread immediately and rewind it again.
  • Bobbin Case: A bobbin case is meant to hold the bobbin in place while you’re sewing. This allows the machine to unravel the bobbin neatly. If your machine has an auto thread cutter, a bobbin can also help hold the thread in place while the cutter cuts through it.

Before now, people were able to remove or replace part of a sewing machine case. These days, it’s not seen as a particularly bright idea. This is because any sign of damage to a particular area on a bobbin case usually indicates that the case is worn out. When that’s the case, the best thing to do is to replace the entire bobbin case.

How to Wind a Bobbin

Winding the bobbin is a process that shouldn’t come with much hassle if you know what you’re doing. Before I go into the steps you should follow to wind a bobbin, it’s important to note that you should always wind your bobbin before threading your needle and machine.

  1. The first step is to place the spool of thread on your spool pin
  2. Slide the spool pin’s cap over the spool’s rim. This ensures the threads do not tangle.
  3. If the bobbin winder pin is not already moved to the left, move it there.
  4. Pass your thread from the spool via the thread guide.
  5. From inside, pass the end of the thread bobbin rim’s small hole.
  6. Place your bobbin unto the pin
  7. Push your bobbin winder pin to the right this time. This stops your needle from moving
  8. While holding the end of the thread, step on your speed controller to run the sewing machine. Do this untill your preferred amount of thread is wound.
  9. Cut the thread, move your bobbin to the left and take it off from the bobbin wander pin.
  10. Lastly, trim the end of the thread from the bobbin’s top.

If you have followed this step by step guide religiously, you should be able to wind a bobbin without much hassle.

Things to Know About Your Bobbin

  • One sewing bobbin is never enough. You need about 20 to 30 bobbins per sewing machine. Usually, your sewing machine comes with about 2 or 3 bobbins when you first purchase it. Once you start some serious work, you’ll quickly realize that you need some more. To save yourself the stress of running back to your local store, simply buy as many sewing bobbins as possible
  • Unfortunately, you can’t use just any kind of bobbin for your machine. Every machine model has a particular type of bobbin that fits them perfectly. This is why you must be careful not to get bobbins that are not meant for your machine.
  • On no account should you swap mental bobbins and plastic bobbins of the same size. Your sewing machine is set for a specific tension setting. If your machine is set for a light plastic bobbin, using a heavy metal bobbin will change the tension. If filled with too much tension, plastic bobbins may bulge.
  • Be sure never to leave the tail of your thread sticking up. This thread tale can disrupt the formation and connection of the top thread with your bobbin thread. Always cut off this tail so it doesn’t stick up.

Related Questions

What do I do if the bobbin pressure is not consistent?

If you always have to adjust the tension of the bobbin thread, check your bobbin. Plastic bobbins are prone to wear. It makes them grow loose inside the bobbin housing thereby making it hard to maintain the right tension. You can switch to a metal bobbin to see if the problem continues.

What do I do if the bobbin thread doesn’t come up?

If you can’t grab the bobbin thread when you turn the handwheel towards you, check to see if the bobbin’s winding spindle was pushed to the left. If it wasn’t, it would be impossible for the needle to go down and pick the bobbin thread up. Ensure the presser foot is up when you do this. If it doesn’t work, you should hire a professional.

What do you do if the bobbin case is stuck?

If your bobbin case ever gets stuck, remove it gently and see what the problem is. It could be that it took a hit from the leather needle or heavy-duty canvass. Open the latch to take it out.  Remove the machine’s button plate and check it for any anomalies. If there’s anything stuck, simply remove it and fix it back.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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