Questions about bobbins may be as many as the types of bobbins that exist in the world today. Did you know that there are now as many as 60 different kinds of bobbins available?
Although most of them look the same, these bobbins, small and uncomplicated as they are, have their unique qualities. Looking at them closely, you will find that they may slightly differ in height, depth, or diameter.
If you own more than one brand of a sewing machine, you may now have a collection of sewing machine accessories, including bobbins. Most bobbins look alike, so if you have mixed them up in your workspace, you might fill up an empty bobbin and use it on your machine. Using unidentified bobbins may ruin your project, your bobbin, or your sewing machine.
A bobbin can be pretty tricky to use. Use the ones that come with your machine, and you are sure to get nice and clean stitches. Use any bobbin you may find in your stash and expect your work to get ruined,
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Are bobbins reusable?
Some bobbins are reusable, while others are not. The bobbins that came with your sewing machine are definitely reusable. These metal or plastic bobbins are included in the package, so you can wind your thread on them as often as you need. Some pre-wound bobbins are reusable, while some are not.
You can reuse empty bobbins that were pre-wound only if:
- they are not made of cardboard
- they are the same make and model as your sewing machine
As a newbie sewist, you may or may not know much about bobbins. For someone who has been sewing for quite some time, you may have used them hundreds of times already. But you only brushed off the thought of knowing what they are and how they can help you make the most out of your sewing machine.
So, here is a simple guide to know your bobbins more as you may chance upon different types on your sewing journey.
- Bobbin Styles and Sizes
- Generic Bobbins
- Pre-wound Bobbins
- Refilling Bobbins
- Storing Bobbins
Bobbins used for domestic sewing machines and longarm quilting machines come in three standard types. These popular styles are the L-style, M-style, and Class 15. Household sewing machines usually use the L-style or Class 15, while longarm machines use the larger M-style bobbin.
Check your sewing machine manual to know the right type of bobbin to use with your sewing machine. Use only bobbins that are the same style as those that come with your machine.
Bobbins do not only come in different sizes. They are also made of metal and plastic. Sewing machines include around three or four bobbins in the package, but if you need extra, you can always buy some more empty or pre-wound bobbins.
Plastic or metal bobbins both functions well as long as it is the correct bobbin size for your sewing machine.
You can find generic bobbins in craft stores and notions shops. Generic bobbins tend to cost less than the manufacturer’s bobbins. More often than not, they will work just fine in the sewing machine models and brands they are claiming to fit.
If you need more bobbins than what is included in your sewing machine, you can buy some generic bobbins and try them on your sewing machine. Some can cost less than half the price of genuine bobbins, so you only have a minimal loss.
But it is also good to know that genuine bobbins are also inexpensive. Going cheap on your bobbins may not be worth the effort if it may cause a bigger problem in the future.
Many pre-wound bobbins that match standard sewing machines and longarm machines are available now in the market. In the past, sewing machine manufacturers warn against using pre-wound bobbins. But now, more and more sewists use pre-wound bobbins, which are so convenient.
You can recycle some pre-wound bobbins and refill them with your choice of thread. Pre-wound bobbins made of cardboard are disposable. These types of bobbins will not hold up if you try to wind new thread on them.
You can reuse your plastic pre-wound bobbins after you have used up all the thread. Some sewists prefer buying pre-wound bobbins as you can get more thread for each bobbin compared to those you wind at home. Some also claim that pre-wound bobbins hold three times the amount of thread than the bobbins you wind at home.
Some plastic pre-wound bobbins can save you time and money, and you can also get extra bobbins that you can reuse.
When you need to refill your bobbin, you need to remove it from its bobbin case either on top or front of your sewing machine. Sewists find it a big bother when you need to wind your thread in the middle of sewing.
To avoid this disturbance, you can either wind your bobbins with the thread you are using to sew in advance or buy pre-wound bobbins.
Keeping empty pre-wound bobbins for reuse is an advantage when you need more bobbins for sewing. It would be good for the environment and great for your pocket, too.
Wind thread only on empty bobbins. Do not refill a partially-filled bobbin as it may cause problems with your stitches later on. Also, do not overfill your bobbins as they might not be able to move freely in their bobbin cases.
§ Make sure the thread is correctly seated in the bobbin winding tension disk of the machine before starting to wind. If you wind your thread too loosely, it can cause machine jamming. Winding your thread too tightly can distort or break the bobbin.
Sewing machines come with an accessory compartment for your small sewing knick-knacks. You can keep some of your most-used bobbins and those similar in model to the machine in the accessory compartment.
But if you have a huge collection of bobbins for your many sewing machines, it would be best to have organized storage for them. Look for a clear storage box to keep your bobbins so you will be able to see which color threads are already wound onto bobbins.
You can find clear storage boxes which have partitions to separate your bobbins so that you will not end up with tangled threads. You can also find different bobbin cases in craft stores that have clear covers. One nice example is the bobbin ring with a transparent cover to help you find the thread color you need easily.
You can also develop a system to keep your bobbins by sewing machine, so you do not end up using a bobbin that is not compatible with a specific machine.
Are metal or plastic bobbins better?
It depends on the sewing machine you are using. Some machines use metal bobbins, while other machines use plastic bobbins. Both are fine to use, but you need to keep in mind that you should not interchange them. It would be best if you did not use a metal bobbin for a sewing machine that uses a plastic bobbin, and vice versa.
If you accidentally do so, you might compromise the quality of your stitches. A worse thing that can happen when you use the wrong bobbin is to ruin your sewing machine. If only the bobbin is ruined, it is easier and cheaper to replace. But it is wiser not to take that chance.
Sewists who use sewing machines passed on from one generation to the next can prove that metal bobbins can be used and reused for the longest time. You can find sewing machines more than half a century old that can still function efficiently. Sewists who own these vintage sewing machines use only the right accessories, like the good metal bobbin.
Most modern sewing machines use plastic bobbins. Plastic bobbins are lighter but are as durable as their metal counterparts. More parts of the sewing machines are made with plastic through the years, making it easier now to carry around. Sewing machines with plastic parts are lighter but still sturdy and reliable.
Plastic bobbins that came with the sewing machine can also last decades. They can also be reused and refilled as often as needed as long as they are not cracked or burred. When that happens, your plastic bobbins become useless.
Scratched or dented metal bobbins and cracked and burred plastic bobbins should not be mixed with your good bobbins. Deformed bobbins cannot be used on the bobbin cases but can be used as top spool thread or twin needlework.
Do all sewing machines use the same bobbins?
From the many accessories that a sewing machine has, the bobbin is one of the accessories that are not interchangeable. Some sewists may claim that they have used this bobbin to that machine, and it fits. But if you wish for your sewing machine to last a long time, will you risk using a generic bobbin that costs so much less?
A universal bobbin does not exist. Some sewing machines may accept bobbins from other sewing machine brands that have similar dimensions. Some sewing machine brands even have varied bobbin sizes within the brand. So, bobbins, tiny as they are, are big things to consider.
Sewing machine manufacturers are strict with the dimensions of their machine parts. That is why they believe that you will get the best quality of stitches if you use the parts specifically made for the sewing machine.
Some bobbins were made to fit only certain models of sewing machines. You can mostly observe this on some sewing machines, such as high-end embroidery or quilting machines. Very old versions of sewing machines also have their own bobbin designs. So, it is important to use only the style of bobbin that matches your sewing machine to keep your sewing machine in tiptop shape for a long time.