How to Troubleshoot a Sewing Machine With Bobbin Problems

    by Amma Marfo

    About the Author

    Amma Marfo is a higher education professional and writer. Presently, she shares her writing expertise in the Office of Student Activities and Multicultural Programs at Emmanuel College in Boston.


    When your sewing machine is acting up and you're finding clumps of thread under your stitching, or the machine stops mid stitch, you may wish to investigate the problem before taking it to the repair shop. Several problems can be solved easily, such as changing your needle size or adjusting the top tension on your machine. Other problems, however, may be caused by your bobbin or the bobbin assembly. Luckily, you can troubleshoot a sewing machine with bobbin problems and get back to sewing in short order.

    Things You'll Need

    • Small soft bristle brush
    • Dust cloth
    • Sewing machine oil
    • Cotton swabs
    • Thread
    • Resealable bag

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    Open the bobbin cover and remove the bobbin from your machine. Examine the bobbin case and confirm that there aren't stray threads jammed in any grooves. If you see clumps or strands of thread, remove them with your fingers or with tweezers.

    Check the bobbin in the case to confirm that it's inserted correctly. Different machines hold the bobbin in different ways and some machines don't use a bobbin case. Consult your machine's manual to confirm your bobbin's proper position.

    Ensure the thread is wound evenly on the bobbin. If your thread has large sections of loose loops sticking out from the rest of the thread, they could be causing the problem. Rewind the bobbin, if needed.

    Clean the shuttle mechanism and the bobbin case with a small soft brush, such as a makeup brush, and a dust cloth. Remove as much dust and tiny fiber pieces as possible. Resist the urge to blow into the machine to clear away dust; this can send debris farther back into the machine.

    Oil the movable pieces of the shuttle by putting a few drops of sewing machine oil on a cotton swab on a stick and rubbing it over the hinge-like turning mechanisms. Don't add more than one drop of oil onto the swab; too much oil on the machine might ooze onto your fabrics.

    Reload your bobbin into the machine and stitch a seam along a piece of scrap fabric. Check your thread tension and adjust it as needed following the manufacturer's instructions. The upper thread should never show through the bottom and the bobbin thread should never show through the top.

    • When adjusting the tension on your bobbin case, place it in a resealable bag. This will catch the tiny screw should it fall out.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/ Images