Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Beginner Sewing Series: Bobbins

Today, we are talking about bobbins in our Beginner Sewing Series.  I know, they aren't the most exciting tool in your sewing basket but they are very important.

What is a bobbin?  They are round discs that hold the bottom thread in your sewing machine.  For a sewing machine to operate, you need a top thread and a bottom thread.  You wind your own bobbins, with the thread color that you need, using the bobbins that came with your sewing machine or ones that you purchased for it.

How many bobbins do I need?  When you purchase a sewing machine, you typically are given 4 bobbins.  Check the little bag that came with your machine that holds the extra presser feet and needles.  Can't find the bag?  Take off your free arm and check in the secret compartment. I used to tell students that 10-20 bobbins where ideal (depending on how much you sew).  You don't want to have to take one color thread off a bobbin to put another color on when you might use that other color again soon.

What type of bobbin do I need?  As you can see from the above picture, there are metal bobbins and plastic bobbins. You want to use the type of bobbin that came with your machine.  For most modern machines, that will be plastic bobbins.  Plastic bobbins hold up just fine and don't wear out very easily.  I can't even remember the last time that I threw out a plastic bobbin because it was no longer useable.   Maybe you were given a machine and are not sure which bobbins came with the machine?  Look in the sewing machine manual or if you do not have one, you can find many of the sewing manuals online.  I have even Googled a machine's model number (which can be found on the machine) to see which bobbins the machine requires.

Now, just to be clear, not all plastic bobbins are the same.  I cannot tell you how many times a student has gone to the sewing store and just picked up a pack of plastic bobbins thinking they were all the same.  Take a look at the below you see the difference between the two bobbins?

The bobbin on the left is taller and larger than the one on the right.  These bobbins are NOT interchangeable in sewing machines for obvious reasons.  The left one is a Brother SA156 bobbin which is what most of the modern Brother sewing machines use.  The bobbin on the right is a Singer Class 66 bobbin that mainly older (think 1990's) Singer machines use.  Both are sold at local sewing stores like Joann Fabrics.  Newer Singer machines use the Class 15 bobbin.

The metal bobbins also have different sizes so I would check your manual to see what size you need. Metal bobbins are most often used in electrical sewing machines that are not computerized but some sewing machines brands do still use them.

By best bobbin advice, if you purchased your sewing machine from a local independent sewing machine dealer, go back and buy your bobbins from them to ensure that you are getting the correct ones.  If you inherited your machine, bought it second hand, or ordered it via the internet, do some research right now to make sure that you know the correct.  If you are still not sure and need help, please leave a comment below or email me at and I will be glad to help you.

Note: There are some links in this post to products that you can purchase and I do earn a small affiliate fee when they are purchased with my link.

1 comment: said...

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