How to Thread a Bobbin

Kate Miller-Wilson
sewing machine bobbin

Although the process may vary depending on the sewing machine you own, learning how to thread a bobbin is an essential part of using your machine. Most sewing machines offer easy bobbin threading and by following a few simple steps, you'll be sewing in no time.

How to Thread a Bobbin on Most Sewing Machines

When it comes to using a sewing machine, threading the bobbin can be one of the most intimidating tasks. However on most sewing machines the process is actually quite simple. Consult your owner's manual to determine the exact steps necessary for your machine. If you don't have it handy, these general guidelines will help:

  1. Remove the bobbin from the machine. On many machines, there's a sliding door under the needle that opens the bobbin compartment. On others there's a hinged door. Some machines have bobbin holders that come out as well.
  2. Remove any thread currently on the bobbin. Leaving the excess thread in place can cause the machine to jam.
  3. Unthread the main sewing machine needle. You'll need to re-route the thread in order to fill the bobbin.
  4. Carefully wrap the end of the thread a few times around the empty bobbin, securing the loose end by wrapping the thread over it. Make sure the thread on the bobbin is taut.
  5. Place the bobbin on the spindle. This is usually located near the top of the machine, often on the right-hand side.
  6. Slide the bobbin spindle to the engaged position or move a lever to engage the machine. This process will depend on your sewing machine, but it alerts the machine that it is loading the bobbin rather than sewing a seam.
  7. Route the thread as needed to load the bobbin. Your machine likely has a diagram printed on it that will help. You may need to place the spool of thread on a different spindle than the one you use to sew. You'll also need to send the thread through a series of hooks and tensioners, according to the diagram, to ensure the bobbin thread is tight enough as it's loaded.
  8. Make sure the bobbin is going in the right direction so that thread will wind onto it, rather than off. Press the pedal to load the bobbin with thread. Some machines will stop when the bobbin is full but on older machines you'll need to watch the level of thread. Cut the thread, and set the bobbin aside.
  9. Re-thread the main sewing machine needle according to the process for your machine.
  10. Re-install the bobbin in its compartment. This usually involves slipping the thread into a small diagonal slot.
  11. Turn the manual dial on your sewing machine to bring the threaded needle down into the bobbin compartment. As it comes back up, it will bring the bobbin thread with it. You're ready to sew!

Helpful Tips

As you learn how to thread a bobbin, keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Practice threading a bobbin several times when you first get your machine. Load bobbins with the most common thread colors, such as white, black, navy, and brown. You'll use these later, and getting them ready will give you lots of practice.
  • Work slowly as you route the thread to the bobbin. If your manual is handy, consult it to make sure you're following the right process. Making sure the thread is routed properly is essential to keeping your machine from jamming.
  • If your machine does jam, troubleshoot the problem. Check whether there is enough thread on the bobbin and whether the bobbin is properly loaded. Also check the tension on your sewing machine, since this can be responsible for a lot of problems. If all else fails, remove the thread on the bobbin and start over.
  • Take a video of yourself threading the bobbin on your machine. That way, if you're ever unsure about the process for your model, you can refer to the video.
  • If you're still having trouble and cannot locate your user's manual, many sewing machine manufacturers have copies of their manuals online. Find the website of the manufacturer and then search for the make and model of your machine.

Practice to Become Proficient

Properly threading your sewing machine's bobbin can make a big difference in how your machine functions. With a bit of practice, you'll find that this process becomes automatic. Soon you'll be switching thread colors and threading your machine with no trouble at all.

How to Thread a Bobbin