Bobbin Winding Unevenly? Here’s Tips to Fix It

Is your bobbin winding unevenly? You can tell by how it looks. If it looks like a rat’s nest, it hasn’t wound quite right. The bobbin winding unevenly can be a frequent issue for new quilters with their first machines and more experienced quilters who have moved to a new machine. Often times, a bobbin that’s been wound unevenly doesn’t cause any problems when sewing. Other times, it can be the bane of your existence, completely halting your quilting as your pull your hair out trying to fix it. But what causes your bobbin to wind unevenly and how do you stop it from happening? Here are somethings to look out for.



Holding the tail of the threat taunt

A good bobbin starts off with a good base. When you wind your bobbin, you need hold the tail of your thread taut. This allows the thread to set a tight, even base around the center of the bobbin. If you don’t, there won’t be any tension. The thread will be jerked slightly as it unwinds from the cone or spool. If you don’t keep tension, that jerking will translate to the bobbin in uneven winding.


I like to pull an extra long tail and whole it the whole time the bobbin is winding. But you can get away with developing a good base around the bobbin (about 1/4-1/2 the way full) and then letting go. But be careful! If the bobbin tail is too long, it can get caught and wound back into the bobbin and cause all sorts of problems when you sew. If you’re gong to let go, stop and trim that tail. Don’t get sloppy!



bobbin winding unevenly: hold the tail


Hold your thread tail on the top (or bottom of the bobbin)

When I first started sewing on my Singer, I learned (or followed the picture right next to the bobbin winder) that you need to thread through the top of the bobbin–the top meaning, whatever side of the bobbin is up when the bobbin is in the bobbin winder.



Bobbin winding evenly: hold threads to the top



But when I moved to Korea and switched to my Brother machine, I started having winding issues all over again. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I was supposed thread my bobbin through the bottom of the bobbin.



bobbin winding unevely: holding threads to the botton



There was even a thread cutter build into the base of the bobbin winder (which I don’t actually use, because it cuts the threads as soon as you start winding–obliterating step one: holding the tail taut).



Bobbin winding unevenly: thread cutter



All this to say, check your machine’s handbook (or even just the picture on the top of the machine) and see if you holding your strings in the correct position. This is a stupidly easy fix you don’t want to be overlooking!



Wrong type of bobbin

The little wheels all look the same. But I’ve learned the hard way–they aren’t. And more importantly, there are more types of bobbins than the two that are sold at JoAnn. There are all sorts of heights and diameters. Even the center hole can be a different size. Don’t buy bobbins off of looks. Find the type of machine you have (it will be labeled somewhere on the machine, usually the front). Then use the fabulous internet and look for the handbook. It will tell you the type of bobbin you need, and you can find it online (yay Amazon!).

Bobbin winding evenly: different types of bobbins
bobbin winding unevenly: different types of bobbins

The type of the bobbin matters because the bobbin holder (the place you put your bobbin in your sewing machine) has been build to a specific size. If you don’t get the right sized bobbin, it can knock around in the bobbin holder as you sew and the thread can get knocked out of alignment.



Defective or old bobbin

Have you been using a cheap bobbin a few too many times? I’ve found when my bobbin starts looking a little cracked and worse for wear, it’s time to chuck it in the trash and grab a new bobbin. But make sure you get the right type (see above), or you’ll just run into the same problem.



Bobbin winding unevenly: old bobbin

But I’ll still secretly use this one until it falls apart, because I’m stubborn!

Is your sewing machine still not working properly?

If you’ve gotten a beautifully wound bobbin, and your sewing machine is still having problems, take a look here. This is my checklist of things to look over, clean, change out, etc… that can help get your sewing machine back to fighting fit. Most things going on with your machine you can fix yourself. You can do it!

Sew on!

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