Tips and Tools Tuesday – Which Way Does Your Bobbin Thread Go?

How many sewing machines do you own?

How many do you use on a regular basis? How many do you use on a non-regular basis?

Pretty much, every quilter I meet has, at least, more than one sewing machine.

I have six.

Five are Singers. One (bottom left) was a gift from my husband, forty-one years ago.  Except for the green one, each of the others were passed down to me by  family members. The green one, which is self-contained in its own sewing cabinet, I bought at a yard sale, just because it was too cool to pass up! $25.00! A good cleaning and some oil, and it sews like a dream!

Each one has it’s strengths, and I have them set up for sewing different projects. The oldest Singer will only do a straight stitch, and no reverse, but oh, what a beautiful seam it sews! I use that one for chain-piecing only. The green one, and tan one, too are straight-stitch only and each have reverse, so I can use for them for both chain piecing and Y-seams. The last two have the added ability to zig-zag. Useful when doing machine applique, or making clothing and Home Dec items. The white one, has the ability to adjust the pressure of the presser foot. Ideal for when I’m in the mood to make another rope bowl or basket.

The sixth one is a Brother. I bought it three years ago, and I use that one mainly for machine quilting, but, it gets used for piecing as well.

Why did I tell you about each of my sewing machines?

Because I thought that those of you who have several machines, and like me, switch from one machine to another for various projects, might benefit from today’s tip.

I have found that, switching from one machine to another and sewing, is usually no problem, until it comes time to fill a bobbin, or change threads. Sometimes it’s been a little while since I’ve used a particular machine, so, my memory for knowing which way the bobbin thread is supposed to face in that particular machine’s bobbin case, can get a little unclear. Well, fuzzy. Okay, I have no idea which way it goes.

Looking in that specific machine’s owner’s manual for which direction the bobbin thread should face when inserting it into the bobbin case, became a nuisance. And, on some of my machine’s, the needle threads left to right, while others thread right to left. Is it bobbin left, and needle right? Or bobbin right and needle left? Bobbin left, needle left? UGH!

Oh, what do I mean by, “thread left”, and “thread right”?

Which way does the does the thread come off of the top of the bobbin? Toward the left? Or, toward the right? Once it’s in the bobbin case, you can’t tell.

Does it make a difference to your machine when you stitch?

Yes, it does.

Now, some of you may have asked yourself that very question. “Does it really make a difference?” And, like me “Googled” the question, and watched several YouTube videos showing someone sewing with the bobbin one way, then switching it the opposite way, stitching some more and saying, “See, they look pretty much the same. So, there’s no difference which way you put your bobbin in the bobbin case.”

I thought, “Well, then, why do sewing machine manufacturers state a specific way to place the bobbin in the bobbin case of each particular machine?” If it didn’t matter, they would just say, “Place the bobbin in the bobbin case and pull the thread through the slot.” But, they don’t. They specify a direction.

So, I called the Singer Manufacturing Company and asked them. “Why does the manual specify a direction? Does it make a difference?”

The technician was very adamant about placing the bobbin into the bobbin case as specified in the manual. She said that the direction of the thread, as it comes off the bobbin, is important for the proper bobbin tension. The bobbin position works together with the pressure of the tension finger of the case to give the proper tension of the thread so that each stitch is correct. She said that, just as the top thread needs to follow the proper guides and be threaded through the needle in the proper direction, so the bobbin needs to be loaded in the proper direction.

Well, that’s all I needed to know! I bought a handy dandy label maker from our local home improvement store, and made a label for each machine stating the Brand and Model, and which direction the bobbin thread should face and which way the needle is to be threaded.

No more getting out each manual every time I want to switch machines.

These simple labels have made switching machines a less stressful and less time consuming experience.

Someday, my grandchildren may inherit these machines, and, I want them to stitch as beautifully for them as they do for me right now. So, I’m following the sewing machine designer’s directions!

Today is a good day to label your machines!

Have a great day, and happy creating!


P.S. I’ve just published a tutorial about how to Make Your Own Stiletto. Check it out! They are easy to make and would be great small gifts for your quilting friends!

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