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Tips & Techniques > low bobbin thread indicator for your sewing machine

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Posted by: Chainsaw Mouth

About Chainsaw Mouth
Member since: 9/24/04
Reviews: 3 (tips: 2)
Skill level:Intermediate
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Posted on: 10/9/04 4:07 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 4 people   
Here's a tip I learned from my Janome dealer, who learned it from one of her customers. I've never tried it myself but I thought the idea should be passed around... If you really need to know just how much thread is left in your bobbin while sewing, wind up another bobbin with thread of choice and sew with that bobbin as your top thread instead. No more guessing games. Just check your bobbin on the spool to see how much bobbin thread you have left. I hope this makes sense...

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sheone said... (2/3/06 9:22 AM) Reply
It makes a lot of sense. It's an excellent idea.
SewVeryTall said... (10/20/04 6:34 AM) Reply
so-so-sewer...interesting point. I think the twist of the thread is important when hand sewing, due to lack of constant tension on the thread. In the machine, the tension wouldn't allow it to tangle. I have used bobbins as my machine's top thread before, with no problems.
I agree totally about hand sewing...if I use thread from a bobbin, I put the fresh cut into the needle first and knot that end.
Astrostitcher said... (10/19/04 1:36 PM) Reply
Hi, Great idea! But just a question - doesn't thread have a twist sense to it? I know that when hand quilting I am very careful to keep the lead end at the needle eye to avoid snarls. Yet when you wind a bobbin that lead is reversed. Regular machine sewing thus pairs the threads in a stitch with their twists in opposite sense; sewing from two bobbins will have the twists in the same sense. Would this make any difference that anyone has noticed?
Chainsaw Mouth said... (10/15/04 4:31 PM) Reply
I'm very sorry! I failed to add that you have to wind both bobbins with the same amount of thread--so you have to let your machine stop winding automatically. After reading all your comments, I can see where I can run into problems. But I think for straight stitch free-motion and sewing on buttonholes, this technique might actually save me from frustrations. I'm not so sure about using a heavier thread for the top bobbin... I think you would use more top thread than you would use bottom thread when doing satin stitching, since more of the top thread gets pulled towards the bottom.
bkool said... (10/11/04 9:49 PM) Reply
Good idea, but you have to wind two bobbins for every one bobbin you use below the needle plate, so you're right: it's for when you REALLY need to know how much thread is left below.
Mary Stiefer said... (10/11/04 2:52 PM) Reply
This tip is especially great for sewing buttonholes. Just the other day I was sewing buttonholes and, much to my dismay, I was halfway through one buttonhole and my bobbin thread ran out. OH My Gosh. There is no way that I know of to get out of that - so - I ripped out the half buttonhold that I sewed, put in a new bobbin of thread, and started that buttonhole over again. It really would be much easier to see this using a bobbon on top and bottom.
SewVeryTall said... (10/11/04 4:56 AM) Reply
I wish I understood Londa's comment. But here's an experiment to prove this theory [and see if the tensions are set correctly] a few inches on a scrap of fabric [long stitches], trim the threads at the beginning and ending of your stitching, then take the stitching out and see if the two threads are the same length.
Deepika said... (10/10/04 11:15 AM) Reply
Kris, thanks for explaining, I get it now :)
Mini said... (10/10/04 10:09 AM) Reply
This would be a good idea when sewing decorative stitches or topstitching. I hate having to start a new spool of thread before reaching the end of a seam. Maybe the top and bottom threads don't get used at the exact same ratio, but it should be close enough for practical purposes.
D1Diva said... (10/10/04 9:46 AM) Reply
Clarification: The same amount of thread should be on top OF THE SEAM as well as the bottom. Sorry I left that out.
D1Diva said... (10/10/04 9:43 AM) Reply
This should work on a straight stitch if your tension is adjusted correctly. The same amount of thread should then be on the top as well as the bottom. Good idea for projects where not running out of bobbin thread would be crucial like SewVeryTall suggests.
Londa Rohlfing said... (10/10/04 5:48 AM) Reply
Hummm, one would think the thread gets used up at the same rate, but I'm really wondering. If you take white thread, and put a black magic marker blob on it and watch as you sew, you will see that that spot goes up and down and up and down and even into the fabric and back out. - 20 times or so! I know that is not the action of the bobbin thread - so I'm suspecting the bobbin thread would run out sooner. Just an early Sunday morning opinion though.......... :)
LSBCATS3 said... (10/10/04 1:05 AM) Reply
Good idea! Thanks for suggesting it.
mapatterson said... (10/9/04 8:04 PM) Reply
Nifty idea! I'll try it on my next project.
Kris32 said... (10/9/04 4:33 PM) Reply
Great idea! Deepika, I think what she means is if you wind two bobbins and use one of them in the place of your regular bought spool of thread you can check the amount of thread left in both bobbins just by looking at the top bobbin. If you are doing regular one needle sewing you should use up the thread in both bobbins at the same rate.
Annam said... (10/9/04 4:30 PM) Reply
Thanks, that's a great tip. Maybe not for everyday sewing but there are times when it's a disaster if you run out of bobbin thread.
mapatterson said... (10/9/04 1:26 PM) Reply
Good grief! Please disregard my above comment. Somehow I posted it in the wrong review. I apologize for any confusion.
mapatterson said... (10/9/04 1:23 PM) Reply
Sew Too Tall: Thank you for your kind comments. I’ll try to answer your question to the best of my knowledge because I’ve yet to use the little beastie. The tape pressure foot is for applying reinforcing tape at shoulder seams or anyplace else you want to reinforce a seam because you don’t want it to stretch or have give. (I’ve always called it “stay tape,” but I have heard it called “twill tape” too.) You don’t really need the special foot—the instructions given for applying reinforcing tape in the manual are for the all purpose foot—but it looks like a handy little gadget. It has a sort of channel in the front that allows you to feed in the narrow tape as you sew the seam, so your stay tape application is straight, lined up with the seam edge and somewhat encased in the stitches. The foot looks handy but would work only for narrow tape, less than ¼ of an inch wide. I know in the past I’ve had trouble keeping stay tape and the seam edges matched and will try the foot out the next time I make something stretchy. (I usually “pin” my serging projects together with a glue stick to keep such things lined up, so this little foot should save time and the cost of glue sticks.) P.S. You probably know more about sergers than I do. Like my car, I just drive the thing; I couldn’t tell you how it works or what’s under the hood.) Heh heh.
Deepika said... (10/9/04 7:39 AM) Reply
I dont get it. If I am using bobbin in top and in the bottom, what difference does it make?
SewVeryTall said... (10/9/04 6:15 AM) Reply
Excellent tip. This would really be helpful when satin stitching fabric bowls, or doing a lot of topstitching.
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