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What is a Bobbin Winder?

Lucinda Reynolds
Lucinda Reynolds

A bobbin is an important part of the stitch process when using a sewing machine. The thread from a bobbin will interlock with the top thread to form a complete stitch. A bobbin winder can be found on almost every sewing machine. This winder will load thread from a larger spool onto a small round spool. This small spool will fit into the bobbin compartment of the sewing machine.

There are many types of bobbins. When using an industrial sewing machine, the bobbin will sit independently of the machine. It is usually a large spool that is attached to the sewing table. This is necessary to allow a lot of sewing to be done without having to stop frequently to load the bobbin.

Woman painting
Woman painting

In most home sewing machines, the bobbin winder is located on the sewing machine. Each machine will have a different type of bobbin winder. One easy method of winding the bobbin includes placing the small empty bobbin on a post located on the top of the sewing machine. Thread from a spool is looped around a thread guide. This guide is meant to maintain even tension on the thread, which is very important for a properly wound bobbin.

The thread is then wrapped around the empty bobbin once or twice and threaded through a hole in the bobbin. The bobbin is placed on the bobbin winder post and the post is pushed against a bar that acts as a brake. A dial on the hand wheel is turned to disengage the sewing mechanism. The bobbin is then wound by pressing on the sewing pedal. When the bobbin is full, the brake will stop the bobbin from turning.

Portable bobbin winders can be purchased. This is a handy tool for those individuals that do a lot of machine embroidery. A portable bobbin winder saves time by winding bobbins independently of the sewing machine. The individual does not have to stop and re-thread the sewing machine every time the bobbin is empty.

Most of these types of winders will have an adapter to plug into an electrical outlet. A lot of these winders will also be battery powered. A bobbin winder of this type can usually be purchased for a very reasonable price at any fabric shop or online.

It is important to read the instruction manual that comes with the sewing machine or bobbin winder. The manual will show exactly how to use the bobbin winder. An improperly wound bobbin can cause problems such as tangled thread, thread breakage, and needle breakage.

Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel -- You sound like me! I've done the same thing. I can't seem to remember how to do it, either.

Unfortunately, I've never even seen such a thing as a portable bobbin winder. I may have to go to the fabric store and price them, since I'm using my sewing machine more these days.


A portable bobbin winder sounds like a good thing. I never can remember how to orient the bobbin on my sewing machine, and have wound thread underneath the bobbin rather than around it, on more than one occasion. A portable winder might take care of that confusion.

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