How to Wind a Bobbin

Learn how to wind your sewing machine bobbin with this clear, step by step guide. 

The bobbin is a vital part of the sewing machine and it is important to understand the correct way to wind and thread it up on the sewing machine.

How to wind a bobbin by makyla creates

The thread spool sits at the top of the machine and threads through the needle. The bobbin is the thread that sits in the bottom of the sewing machine and threads up through the bottom plate. These two threads work together in a looping motion to create rows of stitching. 

Although the bobbin is a tiny wee part of the sewing machine it can be known to wreak havoc if it’s not wound or threaded correctly. 

Before we get started it’s best to understand the parts of the sewing machine that are relevant to winding the bobbin up. 

Parts of the sewing machine used to wind a bobbin

Now lets begin winding up the bobbin. 

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Understanding Types of Bobbins

Before you get started with winding up the bobbin you will need to check that you have the right type for your sewing machine. If you have purchased a new sewing machine the bobbins should be included.  

If you have an older machine try finding the instruction manual to confirm the right bobbin is being used. There are a few different kinds of bobbin options like plastic or metal. There are also different sizes.

Tip: Not all bobbins are one size fits all. Make sure to use the correct bobbin for your sewing machine model. Check your instruction manual. For example, in this brother guide they mention only to use bobbins made for the machine model as they are higher than other types.

Two bobbins with different heights. Illustrations courtesy of Brother.

I own a 1940’s Singer that uses metal bobbins but these are too big for my domestic sewing machine that also takes metal bobbins. It just depends on the brand and model. 

If you can’t find your manual try looking online, most brands have PDF versions available for download online. 

How to Wind a Bobbin Correctly

How to wind the bobbin starts at 7:09 in the video.

Step 1: Turn OFF the sewing machine.

Make sure to turn OFF the sewing machine before you begin for safety purposes. 

Step 2: Place the Spool 

Place the spool of thread onto the holder or pin at the top of the sewing machine.

Step 3: Remove the Bobbin

Remove the bobbin from the bobbin case at the bottom of the machine. If your machine is new there shouldn’t be a bobbin in the case. To remove the bobbin turn the handwheel towards you so the machine needle is positioned up. This will release the bobbin from the case. Pull off any threads that are on the bobbin. 

how to wind a bobbin
Removing bobbin from the sewing machine

Tip: It’s a great idea to purchase a few extra bobbins so you don’t have to unwind one when you change thread colours. It also makes it faster to sew when you have filled bobbins ready to go. 

Step 4: Place the Bobbin Onto the Winder Shaft. 

New sewing machines usually have the bobbin winder on top of the sewing machine. It looks like a small dial with a metal pin coming out the side. Place the bobbin onto this, it will make a click when its on correctly. 

how to wind a bobbin
Thread sitting on the spool holder. On the right is the winder shaft.

Step 5: Thread Through the Tension Guide

Pull the thread from the spool towards the back tension guide and loop it through the small groove or hook. Thread around the pre-tension disk from the front towards the back. The disk sort of looks like a screw. 

Showing how to place thread in through the back tension guide & pre-tension disk.

Tip: Most new sewing machines have diagrams printed onto the plastic as seen in the image above. This is handy to use a quick guide and reminder of how to place your thread to wind up the bobbin.

Step 6: Threading the Bobbin

Take the thread back towards the bobbin. Either wind the thread around the bobbin a few times or pass the thread through the small hole on the bobbin until it’s overhanging about 5cm. 

Push the bobbin to the right to lock it into place. This action tells the sewing machine to spin the bobbin winder instead of moving the needle up and down.

How to thread the bobbin and slide the bobbin into place. Image courtesy of Brother.

Step 7: Turn ON the sewing machine

Switch the sewing machine back on and prepare to wind up the bobbin with the presser foot in a comfortable position.

Step 8: Wind the Bobbin Up 

Hold the thread that is coming through the bobbin up right and press down on the presser foot. The bobbin will begin to spin. Once there is a few spins of thread on the bobbin stop pushing on the presser foot and cut the thread tail off. 

Continue to wind up the bobbin until its fill. Most machines will automatically click off when they are filled.

Step 9: Remove the Bobbin

Pull the bobbin off the winder shaft and cut the thread. 

Now you can place the bobbin back into the bobbin case and sewing machine ready to be thread up. 

What is a Bobbin Case? 

A bobbin case is the piece of the sewing machine that the bobbin sits inside of. Some sewing machines like older and industrial models use a bobbin case. 

Bobbin case and plastic bobbin

A bobbin case is removed from the sewing machine and holds the bobbin inside of it. Most home sewing machines these days have a built-in bobbin case that doesn’t get removed from the sewing machine. Just the bobbin comes out. 

New model sewing machine with built in bobbin case

Handy Bobbin Tools

You may find that you would prefer a separate tool to wind up your bobbins. Below is a handy tool if you don’t want to unthread your sewing machine every time a bobbin runs out.

You can also find great packs of spare bobbins with cases to keep things nice and tidy in your sewing room.

Now that you know how to wind up a bobbin you can now move onto threading up the sewing machine.

Learn More About Sewing

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    How to Wind a Bobbin

    How to Wind a Bobbin

    Learn how to wind your sewing machine bobbin with this clear, step by step guide.

    Active Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 5 minutes
    Difficulty Easy

    Materials

    • Thread

    Tools

    • Bobbin
    • Sewing machine

    Instructions

    1. Make sure to turn OFF the sewing machine before you begin for safety purposes.
    2. Place the spool of thread onto the holder or pin at the top of the sewing machine.
    3. Remove the bobbin from the bobbin case at the bottom of the machine. If your machine is new there shouldn’t be a bobbin in the case. To remove the bobbin turn the handwheel towards you so the machine needle is positioned up. This will release the bobbin from the case. Pull off any threads that are on the bobbin.
    4. New sewing machines usually have the bobbin winder on top of the sewing machine. It looks like a small dial with a metal pin coming out the side. Place the bobbin onto this, it will make a click when it's on correctly.
    5. Pull the thread from the spool towards the back tension guide and loop it through the small groove or hook. Thread around the pre-tension disk from the front towards the back. The disk sort of looks like a screw.
    6. Take the thread back towards the bobbin. Either wind the thread around the bobbin a few times or pass the thread through the small hole on the bobbin until it’s overhanging about 5cm.
    7. Push the bobbin to the right to lock it into place. This action tells the sewing machine to spin the bobbin winder instead of moving the needle up and down.
    8. Switch the sewing machine back on and prepare to wind up the bobbin with the presser foot in a comfortable position.
    9. Hold the thread that is coming through the bobbin upright and press down on the presser foot. The bobbin will begin to spin. Once there is a few spins of thread on the bobbin stop pushing on the presser foot and cut the thread tail off.
    10. Continue to wind up the bobbin until it's filled. Most machines will automatically click off when they are filled.
    11. Pull the bobbin off the winder shaft and cut the thread.


    Now you can place the bobbin back into the bobbin case and sewing machine ready to be threaded up.

    Notes

    Not all bobbins are one size fits all. Make sure to use the correct bobbin for your sewing machine model. Check your instruction manual.

    It’s a great idea to purchase a few extra bobbins so you don’t have to unwind one when you change thread colours. It also makes it faster to sew when you have filled bobbins ready to go.

    What is a bobbin case? A bobbin case is the piece of the sewing machine that the bobbin sits inside of. Some sewing machines like older and industrial models use a bobbin case.

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