Sewing machines are some of the most useful machines when it comes to sewing and crafting in general.
Whilst they have a bit of a learning curve, the skills you learn with this technology can be incredibly useful in both your personal and professional life.
They are also some of the most complex and even frustrating machines that you can use regularly too. With so many moving parts to them, it can be quite hard to narrow down what exactly is wrong with your machine the fifth time it has happened in a row for you.
This article aims to solve some common bobbin problems and show you how to fix them easily if you are having issues.
The tips here will help you prevent or at least limit the number of times you need to take your machine apart just because of a malfunction.
First, Some General Maintenance Tips
Before we get started with this troubleshooting article, it may be helpful to discuss and cover a few simple tricks that may help you and any sewing issues that you might be running into.
Most problems that both new and veteran sewers have can be solved with a little bit of knowledge about what is happening inside the machine, as well as how to fix these problems, without even worrying about more specific issues.
So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of these sewing bobbin problems, the following are just a few things that I would recommend:
Rethread Your Machine
The simplest thing you can do for quick sewing troubleshoot issues is to rethread your sewing machine.
Remove your bobbin from the machine, make sure that no knots or frayed threads have appeared, then you can reinsert the bobbin into its case on the sewing machine, and rotate the case 360 degrees for a full rotation.
Once that is done, you can pull out some of the thread to hang on the backside of your sewing machine.
If there was an issue with the threading mechanism itself, you will need to disassemble your machine to clean out the parts involved.
This usually involves removing the bobbin plate (the part where the bobbin is inserted) and cleaning the mechanism. Be careful when doing this, since many machines use a lot of gears that are easily damaged if not cleaned properly.
Check Your Needle Position
It’s always important to check the needle position every time you start up your sewing machine. If you notice that your needle has fallen below the throat plate, it could cause a whole host of problems for you.
Some people have reported that this issue can also occur if they accidentally put their hand over the needle during a long seam.
To ensure that everything is working correctly, place the needle above the throat plate at all times so that there is nothing to interfere with the movement of the needle.
The Right Bobbin For The Job
This might sound like a no-brainer, but many people who are new to sewing often forget or don’t know that bobbins can come in a variety of sizes for your sewing machine.
The size of your bobbin determines the amount of fabric that you can feed through your machine at one time.
Having the wrong size bobbin can also cause it to jostle around in your machine, making it more likely for an issue to arise later on. So, if you’re a beginner, it’s best to start off using smaller bobbins until you’ve gotten used to feeding larger amounts of fabric through your machine.
Once you’re familiar with sewing with a certain size bobbin, it’s a good idea to switch to a different size when you want to change the speed or tension level of the stitch.
For example, if you want to increase the speed of your stitch by changing to a higher spool of thread, try starting with a lower spool first. Also, it’s wise to keep track of the tension settings that you use throughout the day.
Problem And Solutions
Of course, these more general checks and solutions aren’t going to cover every problem you run into whilst you are using your bobbin and your sewing machine.
If the previous solutions we discussed don’t seem to be working for you or your sewing machine, then you might want to take a look at these more specific problems and the answers we might have for them:
The Needle Does Not Catch The Bottom Thread Of The Bobbin
This is a very common issue that you will likely run into when using your bobbin and your sewing machine. Quite often, your sewing machine’s needle will not catch the bottom of the bobbin’s thread, which will cause the bobbin to fall out of its slot.
To fix this issue when it arises for you, you should probably check to see if there is enough material left at the bottom of the bobbin thread for your machine to catch on to.
Repeating the step of rethreading that we covered near the beginning of this article should also help with this issue.
If you find that the needle doesn’t catch the bottom of the thread, make sure that the bobbin is positioned correctly.
Make sure that the bobbin isn’t too far from the bottom of the slot; if it’s close enough to the bottom, you should be able to get the needle to catch the bottom of the threads.
In some cases, the thread may just break as soon as it comes out of the bobbin. In other cases, the thread may continue to unwind and eventually get caught on something in your sewing area.
This can happen when you’re trying to sew a tight curve or when you’re trying to work with really thick fabrics.
When the needle doesn’t catch on anything, try turning the bobbin upside down and see if the needle still doesn’t catch on the bottom of the bobbing. If the needle still fails to catch the bottom of threads, then it’s probably better to buy a new bobbin.
My Bobbin Thread Won’t Stop Looping
This is another fairly common problem that can arise when using your sewing machine. As you use the bobbin, the thread will just loop on the fabric you are sewing on to.
This can cause your sewing thread to look like a total mess, resembling a wild bird’s nest more than a fabric thread. One of the terms for when this happens is called ‘birdnesting’!
This is usually caused by an incorrect amount of tension being used with the upper thread, with the thread usually being too loose when feeding it through your bobbin and sewing machine.
When this happens, you’ll need to stop what you are doing and pull the thread back up to where the bobbin was inserted. Once you do that, you can then replace the bobbin and begin stitching again.
It’s important to note that once you have pulled the bobbin out, you should remove any pins or needles that were stuck in the fabric before inserting the bobbin. Otherwise, they could damage your needle plate or bobbin case.
You can sometimes prevent this issue from happening in the future by ensuring that your bobbin case has plenty of room for the bobbin. It’s also possible that you are using a type of thread that is known for being difficult to wind onto a bobbin.
A lot of brands of thread come with a “pre-wound” bobbin, meaning that the thread already exists as one long strand inside the bobbin. For these types of bobbins, you shouldn’t experience this issue!
Grinding Noises Can Be Heard Inside The Bobbin
This is a particularly grating issue that will make itself known very quickly if you start having this problem with your sewing machine.
You’ll start to hear a strange noise coming from inside your machine, usually sounding like grinding plastic and metal. Whatever is causing it, it is very rarely a good sign, unsurprisingly.
This noise could be caused by a whole host of issues, from the internal mechanisms having come loose in some way, to the bobbin of your machine being jammed in some way and not being able to move freely.
If you can establish that the issue with this sound is from the bobbin you are using, changing the size that you are currently using is a solid first course of action that you can take.
Giving your bobbin more room to do its thing will make it less likely to come into contact with parts of your sewing machine that it otherwise shouldn’t, which should help give you a smooth operation of your thread whilst you are working with it.
The Bobbin May Be Damaged Or Broken
A broken bobbin is a pretty obvious reason why your thread won’t feed properly. However, there are other reasons why your bobbin might break too.
The most common reason for this is that a bobbin case becomes cracked over time due to excessive wear and tear.
Cracked cases tend to leave lots of small holes in them, allowing air to get trapped between the case and the bobbin. The pressure exerted by the bobbin against the case causes the case to crack further, leading to a larger hole appearing in the side of the case.
Another common cause of a broken bobbin is when the bobbin winds around a sharp object such as a nail or staple that gets embedded in the case. This can lead to the case cracking when it tries to expand to accommodate the new space created by the bobbin becoming stuck.
Another potential cause of a broken bobbin case is a piece of grit building up inside the case. If this happens, it can cause the case to become slightly weaker than normal, making it more prone to breaking.
There are two ways that you can deal with a broken bobbin case. One option is to simply buy a replacement bobbin, but this isn’t always an easy option to find. Another option is to try and repair the existing bobbin yourself.
Your best bet here would be to remove the old bobbin, then use a needle file or similar tool to carefully clean out all the debris inside the case. A very thin filling agent might be enough to fix potential cracks in it, provided that the bobbin is then sanded down to an even level after it has dried.
Deciding on if it is worth fixing a bobbin, or just replacing it, will be up to your judgment.
My Bobbin Case Has Gotten Stuck
Similar to the last point, sometimes your bobbin case can get stuck in your sewing machine. Sometimes a heavy-duty canvas can cause the bobbin to get stuck if they were hit by it.
Not an uncommon occurrence, given how heavy these types of canvases can be.
In this instance, you’ll need to find a way to free your bobbin case, either by removing it entirely or by gently prying it away from where it’s stuck.
Your bobbin case may be catching on something while it is trying to wind itself back onto the spool. In this scenario, you may want to consider swapping out your bobbin case altogether for one that doesn’t have a built-in mechanism to catch on to things.
A good example of this is some of the newer models of sewing machines that don’t use a standard bobbin drive system at all.
Instead, they use a removable bobbin holder that allows you to easily swap out spare bobbins without having to worry about damaging anything else.
Bobbin Case Is Unfamiliar To Me
Depending on how long you have been using your old sewing machine, moving to a newer model can come with its own set of problems when it comes to your bobbin. It can make maintaining and keeping them up to scratch a little confusing, to say the least.
Most older models of sewing machines have a free-loading system for their bobbins, meaning that they are placed directly into the bobbin case and do not require you to manually load them onto the spindle.
Newer models, however, often require you to manually load the bobbin onto the spindle before you begin sewing. This means that you’ve got to know how to do it correctly, otherwise you’re going to end up getting tangled up in the threads.
Models made and sold today however tend to be what are known as top-loading machines, which use a plastic bobbin case instead of a traditional metal design. These cases are typically much easier to work with, but also come with a few drawbacks.
The first is that they need to be replaced now and again due to wear and tear. This means that you’ll need to keep checking in on your new ones regularly, as well as cleaning them out properly each time they are replaced.
The Thread Keeps Jamming From My Bobbin
This is another classic issue that users of sewing machines will run into. It’s probably the most well-known issue that you’ll run into with sewing machines and is a problem that even non-sewers will be aware of.
Your thread becoming stuck in the piece of fabric that you are sewing into has caused endless frustration for many people around the world.
Usually, your thread being jammed is tied back to the bobbin you are using. Most sewing machines use bobbins with two legs, which allow them to pivot and spin freely.
When the needle encounters resistance, the bobbin begins spinning backward instead of forwards. As the bobbin spins backward, the thread is pulled off the bobbin and wrapped around the sprocket (or spools) inside the bobbin case.
When this happens, it causes the thread to become twisted and wound down tightly on the inside of the bobbin case.
As the thread becomes tighter and tighter, it eventually becomes so entangled that it no longer slides through the needle, making it impossible to sew.
To release your thread completely, take one or both ends of the thread and pull them apart until the knot unknots.
Once the knot has unknotted, slide the tail of the thread under the spindle and start pulling it towards you. Doing this should loosen the rest of the thread enough that it can be slid past the spindle
A Loose Bobbin Case
Your bobbin case getting stuck isn’t the only thing that can cause problems for your sewing machine. In many cases, the opposite is also true.
A loose bobbin case will lead to many of the problems that we have already discussed, such as your thread getting jammed, your thread looping, or even your bobbin case becoming damaged as it spins loosely against other parts of your sewing machine.
Before trying to fasten your bobbin case, you should first check that the plate that is attached isn’t the thing that is loose in your sewing machine. Make sure that the handwheel of the machine is turned towards you, so that the needle of the machine is at the highest point it can reach.
Once it is in this position, check the latch of your bobbin case to make sure that it is locked in place. If it isn’t removed, and then place it back in the hatch, then press gently until you hear a clicking sound, which means that it is fastened into the system.
If there is nothing else wrong with your bobbin case that you know of, try tightening the bolt holding the bobbin case together. For most cases, tightening the bolt by about 5 mm should do the trick. If not, then you may want to remove the bobbin case altogether and replace it.
Irregular Stitching From The Bobbin
This is another frustrating occurrence that happens quite often with sewing machines. It’s easy to spot if your machine has this issue, as the stitches of the fabric you are working on will not have that satisfying pattern that they normally produce.
This will likely be tied to one of the other issues we have already mentioned, such as an inappropriately-sized bobbin, or the tension being too loose or tight in your thread.
You can typically tell if you are having this problem simply by looking over your work. Look at any stitches that appear to be out of line, and look closely at each area where you have made those stitches.
You might find that some sections of your stitching were cut smoothly while others have sharp edges or irregular shapes.
The best way to correct this issue is to simply change the bobbin your machine is using or wind a new one in the bobbin case you are using.
My Sewing Machine Is Dirty
Aside from hygiene reasons, there are a few reasons why you should try to regularly clean your sewing machine.
Dirt and lint, that fluffy detritus that you may find that builds up inside your machine, can stop your thread from running smoothly through your sewing equipment.
The best way to thoroughly clean your machine is to take the pieces apart and clean them separately. Take the underside of the frame, and clean it thoroughly. You should also be careful to keep your feed dogs clean.
These are the small levers under your machine that control how your fabric moves down through the machine. They are usually located next to the footplate.
You can use a slightly moist cloth to wipe them clean or get a new pair of widely-available nylon-handled tweezers.
Loose Stitching From The Bobbin
Whilst using your sewing machine, you may find that whilst your equipment will be able to keep an appropriate amount of tension on your upper thread, the lower part of it does not have the same functionality.
As a result, it may cause your stitching to be very loose.
Fortunately, keeping your upper thread tension correct will usually solve this problem too. Just make sure that your needle is reaching the bobbin thread.
A loose stitch can easily be corrected by moving your needle slightly forwards or backward.
Bobbin Having Issues Making The First Stitch
You may find that if you are using a new bobbin, your machine is having trouble connecting that first stitch to your fabric.
This is often because people forget to turn the wheel of the sewing machine towards them and make sure that the needle can pick up the thread in the first place.
If this is the case, just move the presser foot so that it sits directly above the bobbin casing.
Bobbin Moving Too Slowly
You may also find that the new bobbin that you have placed in your machine is getting stuck, or is moving far slower than you would expect it to.
This issue is often tied back to the general cleanliness of the machine, thanks to a buildup of dust and grease in your equipment.
The solution, therefore, is pretty straightforward. Make sure that your bobbin case is properly cleaned before inserting a new bobbin thread. Also, if possible, use a fresh, unopened pack of bobbins with your new machine.
As well as cleaning the outside of the case, ensure that all the other parts are free of debris.
As you can see, sewing machines and bobbins are a pretty tricky piece of kit to troubleshoot.
Thankfully, most of the issues we have talked about can usually be traced back to a few key issues, such as keeping your machine clean, picking the right-sized bobbin, or something not being placed in your equipment correctly.
If you have managed to fix the issue yourself, then congratulations! It seems however that some things need a service center.
Hopefully, though, you have been able to identify any potential pitfalls and prevent these sorts of problems from happening again.