Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

How to Thread a Bobbin

Today we’ll learn how to thread a bobbin. Though threading a bobbin is a fairly simple task, it’s one that us sewers tend to dread for some odd reason. Of course, you can buy bobbins that come already wound with thread, but threading your own will certainly allow for more color choices and will probably save you some money too. 

When I was very new to sewing, I would hand wind my bobbins because I had absolutely no idea how to do it on the machine. Looking back I cannot believe all the time I must have wasted doing that!  Today I’m going to share a step-by-step guide on threading a bobbin to ensure you  have the knowledge and confidence on how to thread your bobbin with ease every time (and don’t end up like me, wasting time hand winding bobbins.) 

What is a Bobbin and How Does it Work? 

Starting at the very basics, what even is a bobbin? The bobbin is a small spool, typically metal or plastic, that holds the lower thread for a sewing machine. A sewing machine needs two sets of threads working together to create a permanent stitch.  The upper thread is threaded through the top part of the machine and is the stitch visible from the right side of the fabric, while the lower thread is on the bottom of the machine (wound on a bobbin) and is the stitch visible from the wrong side of the fabric.  

Whether it’s a drop-in or front loading bobbin, the bobbin case is where the bobbin sits inside of the machine.  The bobbin case has a small hook on it that creates a loop with the bobbin thread. When the needle brings the upper thread down into the machine, it interlocks with this loop of the lower thread.  With the upper and lower threads looped around each other, the stitch is secured and won’t easily unravel. 

Selecting the Right Bobbin for Your Machine

Most sewing machines will come with a handful of bobbins, but many sewers quickly discover they want even more than that.  When it comes to purchasing additional bobbins for your machine, it is essential that you get the correct type for your machine. 

Bobbins vary in material, size, and shape and different makes and models of machines will each take a specific bobbin type. You can check your machine’s manual on what type of bobbin it requires. You can also go to your machine manufacturers website, it’s usually fairly easy to look up your machine model there where you can then read which bobbin type you need. It is essential that you make sure you have the correct bobbin as even though a bobbin may “work”,  it may cause tension issues or cause the stitches to be somewhat off if it’s not the right bobbin type for your machine. 

Learning the Machine Parts for Bobbin Winding

There are just a few machine parts that will be used in winding a bobbin:

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

You can see in the image above the four main parts used in winding a bobbin, the spool pin, thread guide, tension disc, and the bobbin winder.  In the step-by-step, I’ll explain how to use each of these parts, but for a brief explanation of each, the spool pin holds the spool of thread that will be wound onto the bobbin, the thread guide keeps the thread on its path, and prevents tangles, the tension disc will also guide the thread and ensure the bobbin is not wound too tightly or too loosely, and the bobbin winder is what spins the bobbin allowing the thread to be wrapped around it.  

Step-by-Step: How to Thread a Bobbin

With all of that being said, let’s get down to the how-to.  

Step 1: Place the Thread Spool Onto the Spool Pin

Once you’ve chosen the thread that you would like to wind your bobbin with, place it onto the machine’s spool pin.  You will want the spool to be placed, so it spins counterclockwise as the thread comes off for both upright and horizontal spool pins. You may use a spool cap to help keep the spool of thread from sliding off the spool pin. 

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

Step 2: Slide Thread Through the Thread Guide  

The thread guide is typically a small hook whose function is simply to hold the thread in place, keeping it from getting tangled.  Most machines will have a visual or arrow to show which direction the thread should go.  My machine has an arrow showing the thread should enter from the right, and exiting to the left, which is the case for most machines.

  Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

Step 3: Wrap the Thread Around the Tension Disc 

A sewing machine has multiple tension discs, the one used in bobbin winding is typically a small metal disc that sits on top of the machine.  The purpose of this tension disc is to feed the thread evenly onto the bobbin, ensuring the bobbin is not wound too loosely or too tightly.

Again, most machines will have a visual to show which way to wrap your thread around the tension disc.  I’ve used different machines that have you wrap it in different directions, but the machine I’m using here has you wrap clockwise, starting from the top right of the tension disc.  I’ve circled the machine’s visual in the image below to show the direction I’ve wrapped the thread around the tension disc. 

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

Step 4: Thread Bobbin

Thread the bobbin by running the thread up and through a hole on the bobbin’s flat surface. Threading from the inside of the bobbin to the outside will allow the thread to wrap around the bobbin when winding properly. 

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

Step 5: Place Bobbin on the Bobbin Winder

Place the bobbin onto the bobbin winder so that the thread tail is coming off the topside of the bobbin.  

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

Step 6: Engage the  Bobbin Winder

Push the bobbin winder from left to right.  Doing so will engage the bobbin winder so that it spins when the foot pedal is pressed.  This also disengages the needle and the handwheel, so they are not needlessly running while the bobbin is being wound.  

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

Step 7: Wind Bobbin

While holding the thread tail up, gently press down on the foot pedal to wind the bobbin.  Once the thread has wrapped around the bobbin a few times you may stop to cut the thread tail. Once that thread tail is snipped, continue to press the foot pedal until the bobbin is about ¾  of the way full of thread.  (Many machines will automatically stop winding once the bobbin reaches this point.) 

Learn How To Thread a Bobbin in 7 Easy Steps

You have now successfully wound a bobbin! To remove the bobbin from the winder, simply snip the thread from the spool, slide the winder back to the left, and pop the bobbin off.  

Tips for Bobbin Winding

  • Wind multiple bobbins at a time for longer projects: This way, when your bobbin eventually runs out, you won’t have to unthread your machine to wind another.  
  • Purchase bobbin organizing cases: There are many different types of containers created for organizing bobbins, they are typically fairly affordable and, in my opinion, are worth the purchase.
  • Label your stored bobbins:  For those of you with multiple machines which require different types of bobbins, make sure to stay organized when storing your bobbins.  If all of the different types of bobbins are stored together without any way of knowing which is for what machine, you run the risk of using the wrong one, which can certainly lead to machine or stitching issues.  

Now that you can wind a bobbin, check out my recent article on How to Thread a Sewing Machine where I do an in depth step-by-step on how to thread a sewing machine, including how to load a bobbin for both top and front loading machines.  I hope with that and today’s information you will feel equipped and confident to get your machine all ready for your next sewing project! Happy sewing, and may your bobbin be full! 

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Big Thanks to Danika for showing us all how to thread a bobbin today. If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy the following:

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