Sewing Machine Bobbins Fits and Fixes

Hello everyone, today we are going to explore the round bobbin and its often overlooked relationship with acquiring continuous well-balanced stitches for the full length of our seams. Along the way, we will be singling out often overlooked flaws either with our bobbins themselves or with our bobbin case as such and the relationship it shares with the hook assembly. Like most of my posts, the information shared will be relative to almost all round bobbin sewing machines whose basic stitch is a lock stitch. There will be some mention of brand specifics but I try to keep these to a minimum.

sewing bobbins


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It seems to be part of human nature to always assume first and justify from that assumption to explain situations which can only be solved by the utmost complex solution available. For instance and example, we are sewing along fine and our machine is laying out beautiful seams.  Suddenly our needle deflects and comes down into the needle plate surface and it shatters the needle.  Ok well we hit a hard place with several layers and we should have slowed down to make the corner but all was working so smooth we didn’t so we broke a needle and it’s no big deal.  We find all the broken bits and we replace the needle. All threaded up we start stitching and our machine is skipping/dropping stitches.  It was perfect before we shattered the needle by hitting a hard object which tried to stop the needle bar and couldn’t so that transfer of energy must have caused our machine to jump time. Now we messed up the needle/ hook timing sequence so they don’t meet in the same place and that’s why we no longer have the perfect seams. Sounds good and it is logical right?  This is how our minds work; now we have to take the machine in to be serviced or we do it ourselves. When in all actuality we forgot this machine threads right to left instead of the typical left to right so we put our needle in backward. Once we settle down and actually look at all the details we quickly swap the needle around and our perfect seams are flowing from the needle once again. It’s the smallest easiest to miss details that will really mess up our serenity.

Whenever we get a new to us machine the first thing that happens after we see the motor run is a thorough cleaning, lubricating and adjusting if needed. Most of the time all they need is cleaned and lubricated; I check the bobbin case for rust and nicks as well as build up under the spring. I also check the hook assembly for the same rust and wear marks. Most of the time the new to me machine has at least one bobbin with it. It was in the bobbin case surrounded by the hook. All the other places we know to check for rust and wear, But the bobbin is a small detail, right?  Never even give it a second glance, pull the old thread off (sometimes) and wind new on and never look at the bobbin. Well, I am slowly learning the smaller the detail we ignore the bigger the irritation we feel over a problem that doesn’t want to be solved.  If we had looked at the bobbin as closely as we did the case and race\hook, we would have noticed the rust and the nicks that cause the thread to pull unevenly and erratically. If the bobbin cannot dispense thread uniformly then it cannot be adjusted for the proper consistent tension needed for nice well-balanced seams.  And you’re right plastic bobbins won't rust, but plastic has its own issues. The plastic will wear and it will groove the edges and cause nicks. No excuse, check the plastic ones too.

Check the bobbin to be sure it is the right kind, style or class for the machine. Plastic bobbins need to go into plastic bobbin cases to avoid wearing the case out with the edges of a metal bobbin. The older vintage machine will handle the plastic bobbins with ease, no mechanical problem. But I have some machines that get rather noisy when using a plastic bobbin in them. Seems the plastic being less weight is bigger in vibration and rattles. So if quiet counts for you then there is a problem. Most metal bobbins can be cleaned up using a wire brush and or Evaporust. If they are losing the plating then they are pretty much trash. If they are a unique type then clean and polish it the best you can and replace when possible. Also keep in mind that all bobbins are not equal. And therefore quality can differ even when using the factory manufacturer. For instance, I have 2  bubble packs of Singer brand class 66 bobbins that will not fit 3 of my 66’s or 4 of my 99’s all of which were made between 1924 and 1935 with 6 of them between 1924-1926.They do fit my 201 but not my401-403 or my 500. So keep in mind if one doesn’t fit but is correct then try a different bobbin. When the bobbins are constructed by crimping or rolling the center barrel over the side flanges they have a tendency sometimes to not get rolled tight enough and the final size is taller than the bobbin case. Most of the class 15 bobbins are constructed in this manner. By looking at the bobbin while in the case the center should not break the plane above the outer rim of the bobbin case. The biggest problem I have encountered with the plastic bobbins has been the diameter of the hole inside the bobbin not fitting the bobbin winder on some machines other than that they seem to work fine in the bobbin cases.

Now as you can see things are not always as they appear to be and the simple truth is minor details do make a huge difference. Until next time enjoy your machines and the challenges they offer. May you not remember the last time you had to rip out a seam?

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sewing machine bobbins


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About Melissa Shields

Mel is a 30 something year old quilter, attempting to balance her old school roots with today's trends. When not sewing or shopping for a new sewing machine Mel enjoys reading, reality TV, and Nascar.

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