Wind And Load A Bobbin Properly (Video)

I can’t tell you how many times people come to me for help with sewing machine tension issues.

“My thread bunches underneath my fabric!”
“I think my machine is broken.”
“I need to adjust my sewing machine tension.”

Pro secret: when someone says they have sewing machine tension issues, it almost always means they haven’t wound and/or loaded their bobbin properly. Or they’re using the wrong type of bobbin. Or they put the bobbin in the machine the wrong way. Or there’s a little thread poking out of the top of the bobbin.

Are you catching my drift? Sewing machine tension is all about the bobbin! I’d say about 95% of the time someone thinks there’s a problem with their machine, it’s an issue related to the bobbin. So, I’m here to change your world and show you how to wind and load a bobbin properly! See ya, tension problems!

Watch here…

(I preface this post with a caveat: This is one of the first videos I filmed waaaaaaayyy back in the day! On my super old Blackberry. (Yup, Blackberry. Probably one with a roller ball, oh yeah!)  One of our Toronto instructors hand-held my phone while I talked (during our open studio time at The Sewing Studio), and then I did some first-time iMovie editing and added in some music that my brother-in-law made. So it’s not perfect, but it IS jam-packed with great information. Plus, watching this video gives me a hit of nostalgia.)



Hi, I’m Denise. And today I’m going to show you how to load and wind a bobbin properly. The bobbin is probably one of the most important parts of sewing, and with just a few tricks, you can do it properly.

  • Use the right bobbin.

The first thing is to use the right bobbin. Now bobbins tend to look the same, but there are often little discrepancies; little differences that really make a big difference.

So you might find a bobbin that is a little bit taller, a little bit wider, maybe it has a bit of curvature at the top, or maybe it’s metal instead of plastic. What you want to do is use a bobbin that’s exactly meant for your machine.

You want to take the bobbin that came with your machine originally; take that one to the store and make sure you’re getting the exact same bobbin.

Even if it fits into your machine and it’s sewing okay and you think it’s okay, if it’s not the exact proper bobbin for your machine, you will end up with problems and you’ll think it’s you, when really it’s the bobbin.

So the first thing you want to do is put your spool of thread onto your machine.

  • Remove the sticker or push in the hole.

On the top of your spool of thread there’s a little sticker, and you either want to remove that or push in the hole so it doesn’t get your machine sticky. So what I like to do it is take the sticker and push it in through the spool pin like that, so there’s a little opening.

  • Put your thread on the spool pin.

So when I finally put my thread spool onto my spool pin, it won’t get gummed up. So we put the spool cap on and then I’m going to take the thread – leave a little bit of space here so it doesn’t tug and pull.

  • Thread the bobbin tension disk.

And we’re going to take our thread across and pull it through the bobbin tension disk. This is this little metal disk here and this is the only time we use it.

  • Pull on both ends of the thread to secure the thread in the tension disk

You want to pull with both hands on both ends of the thread to make sure it comes in nice and tight, and then we take our thread all the way across.

So I brought the thread across and through the tension disk and then I want to take the thread and put it through the bobbin.

  • Thread the bobbin from the side up the top

So it’s going to come from the side, which is where the thread winds around the bobbin, and then it’s going to go up the hole in the top of the bobbin just like that.

So see how it’s coming from the side and then up the top, and we end up with this little tail that we’ll pull.

  • Put the bobbin on the bobbin winder.

Once we have that tail, we’re going to bring the bobbin and put it onto the bobbin winder, which is this little metal pin sticking up, and we’re ready to go.

Now if I were to press the pedal right now, my needle would move up and down, so what I need to do is called disengaging the needle.

  • Disengage the needle.

On the side of the machine, on your handwheel, you’re going to pull the handwheel out. Some more modern machines do it automatically so you don’t need to do it, or some have a button in the center, but you want to disengage the needle.

  • Engage the bobbin winder.

We also want to engage the bobbin. So I’m going to take the bobbin and push it over to the right-hand side. Now when I press the pedal, the needle won’t move because it’s been disengaged, and the bobbin will spin because I’ve engaged it.

So we’ve got our bobbin in place, we have it pushed over to the right, it’s activated. We have deactivated the needle by pulling out the handwheel. Now we’re ready to start winding the bobbin.

  • Hold the thread tail.

What you want to do is to hold onto this thread tail and you want to start to wind your bobbin.

  • Keep your finger under the thread.

But another trick to the perfect bobbin is to keep your finger underneath, because what we want – as we start to wind, we want to have is about eight or 10 winds right at the very top.

  • To keep eight to 10 winds up at the top.

So I press the button – I press the pedal, but I’ve kept my finger underneath the thread. And what you’ll notice is the thread has wrapped around itself right up at the very top. What that does is it secures the thread end. So now I’m ready to cut this tail up at that top. I’m going to take my scissors or my snips, and I’m going to come right down to cut it off. Because we have that thread wound right at the very top, when I cut this, it won’t unravel, which is really important as you get to a lower– as your bobbin empties. It’s really important.

  • Cut the thread tail right at the very bottom.

So I’m holding this thread tail really tight and I’m taking my snips right down to the very bottom, and I’m just going to give it a little snip.

  • Make sure there’s no thread poking up at ALL (not even a little fuzzie)

And we want to make sure that there’s absolutely nothing right there. You don’t want a little bit of thread poking out. You don’t want any fuzzy or whatsoever, because that’s also going to cause you problems in the machine. So make sure that there’s nothing across the top. Also make sure that – at the very beginning that you wound around the top of it about eight or 10 times. And then you can continue winding your bobbin.

  • Continue pressing the pedal.

So when I press the pedal again, the bobbin will automatically wind from top to bottom. And we just keep going that way. Now the other trick is to make sure your bobbin is always winding straight up and down.

  • Make sure there are no curves or grooves in the side of the thread.

You want to make sure that there are no puckers, no bumps. If you have any areas that are – that need filling, just hold the thread. You want it to be straight up and down the entire way; so that both sides of the thread are perfectly straight up and down.

  • Use your finger to guide the thread and fill in any gaps to keep the sides straight up and down.

And just use your thread to guide – use your finger to guide the thread to fill in any lumps or bumps. When you’re loading your bobbin, don’t go too fast, or your thread will stretch out and then when you sew, it will close up and pucker your seams.

  • Keep a consistent pace.

So you want to keep a fairly consistent pace and remember, straight up and down.

Now we’ve loaded the bobbin until it’s close-to but not touching the edges. You want to go until you’re about two millimetres – or a sixteenth of an inch – away from the edge. So right about here is good. As you can see we’re not right at the edge, but we’re close-to.

  • Cut the thread.

And then you can just take your snips and cut anywhere along the thread. And there we go – a perfectly loaded bobbin. So I have no loose threads up at the top and then I’ve got a perfectly straight side – straight up and down. And there’s our completed bobbin.

Once we have our bobbin loaded perfectly, we want to load it properly into the machine. This machine is a drop-load, which is really easy to load; you just slide over this black lever, the cover pops off, and then we’re going to place it in. It’s just like it says; you just drop it right in.

  • “P” for Perfect.

What you want to do is take the bobbin so that it’s in the shape of a “P” – and we say “’P’ for perfect” – and then you just lay it flat in.

  • Lay it into the machine.

Now there’s a little groove at the very bottom of here this – on the drop-load machines, the bobbin case is actually build right in. So this is all you need to do; we just laid it flat. We made it shaped like a “P,” laid it flat, and then you bringing your thread down into this bottom groove right here.

  • Bring the thread into the bottom groove.

You want to hold onto the bobbin with your right finger and then pull the thread until you hear it click just a little bit.

  • Pull the thread until it clicks.

I don’t know if you heard that; just a little click. And what we want to do to test to make sure that it’s in properly is just pull the thread.

  • Make sure the bobbin spins counter-clockwise.

You want to make sure that your bobbin is winding counter-clockwise. So now we know that we’ve loaded it in properly.

Now before you put the cover on, what we have to do is bring the bobbin thread to the top of the machine just like the other thread. So I’ve gone through and rethreaded the machine properly and now I’m going to bring the bobbin thread to the top.

  • Place your left hand on the top thread.

So using my fingers, I smooth out this top thread only and I place my left hand on that top thread. And I’m going to leave my left hand there the entire time to make sure that’s nice and taut.

  • Make sure the top thread is taut.

Then we come to the handwheel, which is that big wheel on the right-hand side. Remember, you probably pulled it out to disengage your needle, so make sure you push it back in to engage your needle. And then we want to lower and raise the needle once.

  • Turn the handwheel toward you to lower and raise the needle once.

So to do that, I’m going to turn my handwheel toward me. You always turn your handwheel toward you whether you’re going up, down, forward, backward. See how my needle is going down, it’s coming back up. And you want to continue turning your handwheel toward you as the take-up lever comes up.

  • Continue turning the handwheel toward you until the take-up leaver comes all the way up.

So see how the take-up lever is coming up? I’m still turning the handwheel toward me. Once your needle is up and your take-up lever is up — so you’ve got the needle up, the take-up lever up — if you look right down at the very bottom, you’ll see there’s a little loop that has been brought to the top of the machine.

  • Slide something under the presser foot to catch the loop and bring the bobbin thread up.

And that loop is what we want to grab with our snips or our scissors. So you just slide something underneath — you can even take a pen or your sewing gauge. Slide it underneath, and it pulls that bobbin thread right up to the top. The entire time I’ve left my left fingers there, they’re not moving, because that’s holding the top thread taut and then I slid my snips underneath – make sure they’re closed though so it doesn’t snip your thread – and then the bobbin thread came right up here.

So I’m going to pull these over to the side. They’re both between the presser foot and the throat plate, and then I can put on the cover. And there you go. Now you’re all set.

So now I’m going to show you how to load a bobbin into a front load machine. That was a drop-load that we did. Some machines have a front-load mechanism. When you pull off the extension, they have this little flap that you pull down and then they have a bobbin case that snaps into the machine.

So there’s a little handle on the bobbin case that you pull out. See how there’s that little groove at the top? That fits into a hole at the bottom.

  • Hold the bobbin in your right hand and the bobbin case in your left hand.

I’m going to pull this out, and I’m going to hold my bobbin in my right hand and I’m going to hold the bobbin case in my left hand.

  • Pretend the bobbin is a waterfall.

This is something that my grade 11 sewing teacher taught me that I haven’t forgotten: you want to pretend that your bobbin is a waterfall, and that the waterfall is going away from you so you don’t drown.

  • Make the water (the thread) go away from you so you don’t drown.

So I’ve got that waterfall going away from me, I’m not going to drown; it’s in my right hand, bobbin case is in my left hand, and you just place it right in.

So when the bobbin is facing you, there’s a little groove right here. That’s the same groove that was in the machine – in the drop-load machine.

  • Pull the thread though the groove and up to the top until it clicks.

You’re just pulling it through that groove and then snapping it across the top until you hear it click.

And on this one, we hold this facing us, and when you pull the thread, you want to make sure it’s winding clockwise.

  • Make sure the bobbin is turning clockwise.

And when the front-load bobbin is winding clockwise, that means it has been put in properly.

So then we take our little handle and we just push this right into the machine.

  • Snap the bobbin case back into the machine

And this snaps up into that little groove up at the top right there. Now it’s in place and you’re doing the exact thing you did on the other machines.

  • Place your hand on the top thread and make sure the thread is taut.

You’re using your handwheel to – turning the handwheel toward you to lower and raise the needle once.

  • Turn the handwheel toward you to lower and raise the needle once.

You want to raise the needle and also raise the take-up lever right here.

  • Continue turning the handwheel toward you until the take-up lever comes all the way up.

Once you’ve done that, there’s a little loop at the bottom.

  • Slide something under the presser foot to catch the loop and bring the bobbin thread up.

And then you’re going to slide your scissors or sewing gauge or a pen underneath, catching that loop and then pulling the bobbin thread all the way to the top. So now we’ve got that loaded, we just close up the case and put on the extension.

So there you have it. That’s how to wind and load a perfect bobbin.

Remember: You want no threads poking out at the top, you want your tension to be nice and tight, you want your sides to be straight up and down, and then you want to be sure that you’ve loaded it properly into the machine. Once you’re done that, you’re good to go.

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