Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thread Thursday: Bobbins, bobbins, bobbins!

Let's have a little talk about bobbins.  These small pieces of metal and plastic that make it possible for us to create a locking stitch are wonderful little things.  But, what if you don't have the right one?  I suppose, the first part of this discussion should begin with what sorts of bobbins are generally used (I don't have all the available bobbins, so this will cover some of the more common bobbins and will definitely leave many out.)
From left to right:
M-Style:  I use these in my long arms, Empress and Pfaff 18.8 (both are Tin Lizzie machines)
Class 15:  I use this in my Brother and at least one Singer
Class 66:  I use this size primarily in my many Singers; treadle, electric, old and new
L-Style:  These are actually bobbins for my Pfaff, complete with Pfaff stamped on the side.  I checked the internet and there seemed to be some confusion about these out there, so I'm glad I got the bobbins from my dealer.
L-Style pre-wound from Superior Threads is in the foreground, proudly labeled.
(If you want to learn more about bobbins, and what bobbin is right for you, I recommend clicking over to Superior Threads' and checking out their reference guide for bobbins.)
M-Style.  This is the bobbin Darling Husband refers to as "massive."  That's what the M stands for, he says.  These are used in the larger machines.  On the left is an aluminum bobbin and the right is a pre-wound from Superior Threads.  Why would anyone want a pre-wound bobbin?  Well, because at the factory they can get way more thread on that bobbin (about 50% more) than you can winding it yourself.  That means more time quilting and less time changing the bobbin.  That's a win in my book.
Next we have the Class 15.  Superior just started offering these as a pre-wound bobbin.  I haven't tried them in this size, yet.  These come in metal (with and without a bunch of holes around the sides) and plastic.  I like to stick with the metal for the older machines, but that is a preference.  I used the plastic bobbins in my Brother machine (before I got the timing out of whack and put it on the shelf).  I know these also fit in some White machines.  The metal one is from one of my vintage Singers.
The Class-66.  The metal bobbin is from my Singer Model 66 treadle and also works in my Singer Spartan.  I also have many plastic bobbins from some of my newer (2000s) Singer machines.  Many of them still have thread on them.  These can be substituted with an L-Style pre-wound, drop-in bobbin.  I recommend trying a sample with your machine, though.  You may have to adjust the bobbin tension to get a perfect stitch.
This is the L-Style bobbin for my Pfaff.  I use this bobbin in both my Creative Performance (sewing and embroidery) and my Expression 2.0 (sewing and free-motion quilting).  I have had great success with the pre-wound L-Style bobbins from Superior for both regular sewing and quilting.  I just purchased the pre-wound bobbins for use in embroidery.
Finally, here is the L-Style pre-wound bobbin in comparison to the 66 and the Pfaff.  It is lower profile than the Model 66 and the Pfaff.
Why all this business about bobbins?  Well, because I bought a sewing machine without a bobbin (sometimes Craig's List is like that) and went looking for a bobbin.  Everything I read told me that every single Kenmore ever made uses a Class-15.
For the record, this is not true.  I don't care what the internet says.  I have a Kenmore that will not take a Class-15.  It also will not take a Class-66.  I did manage to get it to make a pretty stitch with an L-Style pre-wound bobbin.  Above you can see (from the left) the bobbin case, the pre-wound, Class-66 and finally the Class-15.

I'm not giving up on finding a bobbin that will fit, but I wanted to document my findings. UPDATE: If you want to see the machine with the mystery bobbin, check out this post.

How many bobbins do you have?  I'm not going to admit to how many I have.  Let's just say I'm prepared for the zombie apocalypse.


  1. The Kenmore machine that didn't come with a bobbin wouldn't happen to be the model 76, would it? A friend gave me hers and I've never seen anything quite like it. The bobbin is totally different from others -- about the same diameter across the ends but shorter between the two ends. I'm taking it with me to my (Hand) Crankers sewing group, maybe someone there can help. If I can find out what type it is, I'll let you know! Found your blog on Google search, now to see if I can figure out how to follow it!

    1. The Kenmore machine that didn't come with a bobbin is indeed a 76. (You can read about my experience with this machine in anothe blog post: I did find a suitable bobbin at one of the big box stores.


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