Beginner’s Guide to Threading a Sewing Machine and Winding the Bobbin

Thread a Sewing Machine and Wind a Bobbin So, you found a sewing machine and want to get started with your first project. Before jumping in, you’ll need to thread your sewing machine. It’s important to make sure the threading of the machine and winding of the bobbin are done correctly in order to ensure your sewing patterns are made well. If you skip steps or improperly thread your sewing machine, that could lead to a ruined project or, worse yet, damage to your brand new machine. Follow along to see how you can properly thread your shiny new sewing machine.

Before You Begin

Before you begin the process of threading your machine, consider the setup that will best suit you. In most cases, you can either choose between setting up the machine on a sewing cabinet or table. A table will typically offer more storage options and room for comfort compared to a cabinet.

Checking Your Sewing Manual and List of Materials Needed

Every sewing machine is different and may require specific types of materials for the threading process. In some cases, your machine may only be able to accommodate certain weights of threads or ones made with specific fibers. Therefore, it’s important to check the manual that came with your sewing machine and be sure you’re using approved materials that the manufacturer confirms will work. Put together a list of materials and check them off one by one to ensure you have everything you need. For every machine, you’ll need a bobbin, thread, and a needle or two.

How to Select the Right Bobbin

How to Pick a Bobbin When choosing a bobbin, you’ll need to consider two important aspects. To find a bobbin that fits your sewing machine, you’ll need to make sure it is a proper size and consider whether you can use a bobbin that is pre-wound or not.

Bobbins vary in size and style — some styles are labeled with letters and some use numbers. You should ideally refer to your machine manual for the sizes or styles of bobbins it can use. If you can, it’s also a good idea to ask for help when choosing your first bobbin if you’re shopping in-store. Not all bobbins are clearly marked. In some cases, an L will fit the same as a 15, but that won’t always be readily apparent. The material a bobbin is made of can also vary. Some bobbins are made of plastic, while others are made of metal. In most cases, whether a bobbin is made of metal or plastic won’t matter much, as long as you pick a style of bobbin that is compatible with your machine.

Some bobbins come pre-wound with thread. In cases where the bobbin is not pre-wound, you’ll need to wind the bobbin before installing it in your machine. However, not all pre-wound bobbins are compatible with all sewing machines. Pre-wound bobbins may be more convenient, but in some cases, you may not have a choice, and will need to wind your own bobbins in order to use ones that fit with your machine.

Parts of a Sewing Machine

Another aspect that’s important before you begin threading your sewing machine is understanding the components of your machine you’ll be using. With a fundamental understanding of the parts involved, it will be much easier to thread your machine and wind your bobbin. Here are the different components you should know:

  • Spool Pin – This metal pin holds the spool of the thread together.
  • Bobbin Winder Spindle – This is where the bobbin is placed during winding.
  • Bobbin Winder Stopper – This metal piece will stop the bobbin from spinning once the bobbin has reached its optimal capacity.
  • Hand Wheel – This will raise or lower the needle for the machine.
  • Power Switch – Normally found on the right of the machine, this switch turns power on or off for the machine.
  • Bobbin Winder Tension Disc – A metal piece that guides the thread during bobbin winding.
  • Thread Tension Dial – Used to alter the amount of tension on the top thread.
  • Thread Take-Up Lever – While you sew, the thread on top will pass through the thread take-up lever. This is responsible for moving the thread up and down the needle to prevent snags.
  • Presser Foot – This holds the fabric down so your sewing can be more precise.
  • Feed Dog – A toothed component that pulls in the fabric as you sew.
  • Needle – A metal sliver which is used to form the stitch in your fabric.
  • Needle Plate – A small metal plate directly under the needle, which helps move the fabric forward while sewing.

Why Is Proper Threading Important?

A properly-threaded sewing machine will create stitches that look good and hold well. Although there are numerous varying designs and brands on the market, the actual mechanism for sewing is the same: the upper thread from the needle and the lower thread from the bobbin are combined to form the stitch. Threading your machine correctly, then, is crucial.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Every sewing machine will follow the basic principles of threading with some variation in the specifcis. The upper and lower threads will be combined to form the stitches and secure your work. Be sure to check your manual first to see if your machine requires any unique or special steps.

Upper Half

The upper half of your machine holds the thread that comes down through the needle above your work. To thread it, start by placing your spool of thread on the spool pin on top of your machine. Next, find the first thread guide on the left side of your machine; it should be an obvious silver piece. Take the end of your thread and wrap it around the back side of the thread guide to continue. Follow any diagrammed arrows on your machine.

Bring your thread down through the next thread guide that slices through the front of the machine, around the tension discs, and back up, creating an elongated ‘U’ shape. Back at the top of your machine, you’ll need to place your thread through the take-up lever, a metal piece that should be sticking out of the next thread guide. There should be a small hole through which to pass your thread here.

Once your thread is placed around the thread guides on your machine, it is time to thread the needle itself. You should take your thread from the take-up lever down to the needle, threading it carefully through the needle’s eye. Pull a few inches of thread through the needle and then place it through the small hole in the presser foot underneath. This should complete the threading for the upper half of your machine.

Lower Half

The lower half of your machine holds the thread that comes up from your bobbin and creates the back side of your stitches as you work. To thread it, first look for a small compartment below your needle. It should be directly below or slightly to the side, and the door should pop off easily, revealing the bobbin case of your machine. The case itself may have another cover to remove, but then you should see the hole where your bobbin should be placed.

Before you put your bobbin in, unwind a few inches of thread so it is available to be caught by the upper thread. Your bobbin compartment should have a diagram or writing that tells you which way the thread should go. Once you have placed the bobbin, replace the bobbin cover if you have one, and then the compartment lid.

You still need to expose the end of the bobbin thread, which will also test the threading of your machine. Find the handwheel on the right side of your machine and turn it toward you a few times. This should move the needle down from the top to catch the thread from the bobbin. Pull the end of the thread out so you have a few inches loose. You can also take this opportunity to make sure you don’t see any loose thread flapping around, which could mean you missed a thread guide. If everything looks comfortably taut, you’ve successfully threaded your machine!

How to Wind a Bobbin

How to Wind a Bobbin The bobbin provides the lower thread for your stitches. To wind the bobbin, you will first thread the bobbin and wind the thread several times around it You’ll place your bobbin on your machine’s bobbin winder and use the foot pedal to wind the thread onto the bobbin. The following steps break down this process so you can wind your bobbin successfully.

Place Thread Spool on the Spool Pin

First, you’ll set up the spool of thread you’ll use to wind your bobbin and ultimately to form the upper half of your stitches. To do this, place the spool of thread on your machine’s thread pin. This will ensure that the upper half of the thread is properly secured and ready for the next step.

Pull Thread Out

Next, pull out the thread to the left of the machine and place your thread around the bobbin winder tension disc. The tension disc will help avoid your thread snagging, bunching, or getting into other trouble. It may also have a small wire thread guide to hold the thread securely.

Thread Bobbin

Insert the thread into one of the holes in your bobbin. If your bobbin has holes all the way around, you can insert your thread in any hole. Then wrap the thread around the bobbin a few times to keep it secure. Keep in mind that pre-threaded bobbins are also available and may work for your machine.

Place Bobbin on Bobbin Pin

To secure your bobbin for winding, you need to place your bobbin on the bobbin pin and slide it over to the locked position. This will ensure the spooling thread is held to the bobbin in a consistent fashion. You should hear a solid click when you slide the pin over.

Start Bobbin Winder

Next, you need to start the bobbin winder and allow the thread to go around the bobbin, either by pressing the foot pedal or the bobbin winding button. Most machines will have a dial where you can adjust the optimal capacity of your bobbin. Others that don’t have a dial will have a preset capacity limiter.

Finish Winding the Bobbin

Gently press on the floor pedal or bobbin winding button to continue winding the bobbin, allowing it to fill the bobbin to capacity. If your machine has an automatic winder, it may stop on its own when it reaches capacity. If not, stop winding when the thread nears the edge of the bobbin.

Remove the Bobbin

Slide your bobbin pin back over to its original position to free the bobbin, and remove the bobbin from the pin. The thread will still be attached to the thread spool, so cut it with scissors, allowing a few extra inches to stay with the bobbin.

Extra Tips

More Sewing Tips There are some important things to keep in mind as you get used to using your sewing machine. Start slow and make sure to take your time especially the first few times you thread and use your machine. Get used to testing the tension of your thread around the sewing machine periodically. Don’t just do this when setting up the machine for the first time. Try to check your tension before or after each sewing session.

You should also regularly maintain and replace components of your sewing machine. Make sure to add oil and replace parts that look worn out. If you allow a part to become worn out, then your next sewing session will likely suffer. If you are patient and attentive, you’ll learn to use your machine like a pro!

Thread a Sewing Machine and Wind a Bobbin With Ease

Threading a sewing machine and winding your bobbin can seem daunting. While there are several instructions to follow, if you break it down the process is rather straightforward. Start with a basic understanding of how the components of a sewing machine fit together. Make sure to check your machine manual, since each sewing machine is slightly different, but know that the basic principles remain the same from machine to machine. Take things slowly and follow the steps above to get comfortable with both winding your bobbins and threading your machine. With guides like this one, your adventure into the world of sewing can be a rewarding and fun experience that is also immensely practical.