Threading your machine correctly is a critical component in sewing. The first step in getting your sewing machine threaded correctly is to learn how to wind thread on a bobbin.
Note: This post is part of a series called Getting Ready to Sew. This series is intended for people who are either new to sewing or are getting back into sewing. It is intended to help you prepare for wildly successful sewing experiences.
In the Getting Ready to Sew series, you first learn how to find the best sewing machine for you, where you can buy it, and what tools you need to get started. After that, you learn about the first steps you should take to set up your sewing machine. This is followed by step-by-step lessons which include:
- Winding a bobbin on your sewing machine (this post)
- Inserting a bobbin in your sewing machine
- Threading your sewing machine
- What you need to know about stitch length and width (coming soon)
Because there are so many different sewing machines, it is impossible to share with you specific details about how to wind, or prepare, the bobbin on your make and model of machine. The details provided in this post, though not specific to your sewing machine, will help you focus on the information you need to so you can wind the bobbin for your machine.
How a Sewing Machine Forms Stitches
A stitch is formed when the upper and lower threads on a sewing machine come together as the needle moves up and down in the fabric.
How it works: The threaded needle goes through the fabric. As it does this the shuttle hook, located below the needle plate, rotates and catches the thread. (The shuttle hook, also called a rotary hook, holds the bobbin.) When the hook spins, it spreads the needle’s thread and moves it around the bobbin. The two threads come together and form a stitch that holds pieces of fabric together.
This may be hard to visualize. If so, take a minute to do a quick search online. If you google “how a sewing machine works” you’ll get numerous results many of which have a simple animation. You can then see how the top and bottom threads come together forming stitches.
Before We Get Started
You need to do three things to make the most out of the information in this post:
- Get your sewing machine out and set it on the table in front of you. Plug it in and flip the main switch to get power and light.
- Have the instruction manual* and/or quick start guide next to your sewing machine.
- The following materials: a spool of brightly colored thread, at least one bobbin that was made to go with your sewing machine, and scissors.
(picture coming soon)
*Note: If you don’t have an instruction manual, more than likely you’ll be able to find it online. To do this you’ll need to search using the brand/manufacturer and model of the machine. You can contact the manufacturer of the sewing machine directly or search online for a third party distributor of sewing machine manuals. Depending on the sewing machine, the manual may be free or you might have to pay a small fee. Regardless, if the machine you’ll be sewing with doesn’t have an instruction manual, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of frustration if you take steps now to get one.
The bobbin is a small spool you prepare by winding thread on it. It holds the thread that forms the stitches on the bottom side of the fabric.
IMPORTANT: Bobbins are not one-size-fits-all. They are not universal. This means every sewing machine requires a specific type of bobbin. You need to use bobbins that were made for your machine. Otherwise, your stitches will not come out right and sewing will not be fun.
How to Wind the Bobbin
Machine Parts to Wind the Bobbin
Open the instruction manual that goes with your machine so you are looking at the illustration(s) or the photograph(s) where the main parts of your sewing machine are labeled.
Some parts you want to identify are:
- spool pin
- bobbin winding tension disk
- thread guide
- bobbin winding spindle
- bobbin winding stopper
- handwheel (also called the flywheel)
For most sewing machines, you will use the parts on the top of the machine to wind the bobbin.
Winding the Bobbin
To wind the bobbin you will need: the spool of thread, one bobbin, and scissors
Following the directions and visuals provided in the instruction manual and/or quick start guide will be the best way for you to learn how to wind the bobbin for your machine. Use the manual’s Table of Contents to quickly find the page(s) for winding the bobbin. Some sewing machine’s come with visual’s marked directly on the sewing machine itself like this Singer 3342 model.
(picture coming soon)
Most machines will use or have a variation of the following steps:
- Put the spool of thread on the spool pin.
- Pull the thread from the spool into the thread guide.
- Wrap the thread around the tension disk.
- Insert the end of the thread in the bobbin.
- Set the bobbin on the winding spindle and snap it in place.
- Hold the end of the thread and step on the foot pedal so the bobbin starts spinning.
- Trim the top thread close to the bobbin after several rotations.
- Finish winding the bobbin. The thread should be evenly distributed.
- Clip the thread leaving a tail of a few inches.
- Remove the bobbin by snapping the winding spindle back to its starting position and lifting off the bobbin.
You now know how stitches are formed on a sewing machine. In addition, you have learned the role the bobbin plays in stitch formation.
It is critical you use bobbins that were made specifically for your sewing machine and that you wind the bobbin correctly.
The instruction manual for your sewing machine is the key to making sure you are winding the bobbin correctly.
Now you have a bobbin full of thread. It is time to learn how to insert it in your sewing machine.
Hello, I'm Nicki!
I'm a fabric lover who believes in the necessity of having a creative outlet. My goal is to educate and inspire others in sewing-related projects that are fun, functional, or both. Sign up to receive notice when new posts have been published.