Home Sewing Tutorials Understanding Bobbins: What Every Sewist Should Know

Understanding Bobbins: What Every Sewist Should Know

written by Sarah

Did you know there are over 60 different bobbin styles available? Some are dramatically different, while others are so similar it’s difficult to see any difference at all. Let’s take a closer look.

About 95% of household sewing machines use the following 3 bobbins…

The Class 15 (A Style) Bobbin:

The Class 15 is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.3 mm and has a width of approximately 11.7 mm. This bobbin has two flat sides and is available in both plastic and metal.

The L Style Bobbin:

The L Style is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.3 mm and has a width of approximately 8.9 mm. This bobbin has two flat sides and is available in aluminum, plastic, and as a Magna-glide core.

It’s worth noting that the L Style bobbins are the same diameter as the Class 15 bobbins. As such, you can use L Style bobbins in a sewing machine that uses Class 15 bobbins. However, a Class 15 bobbin is too wide to fit in a machine that uses L Style bobbins.

The M Style Bobbin:

The M Style is about the size of an American quarter. Its diameter measures approximately 24.9 mm and has a width of approximately 10.7 mm. This bobbin has two flat sides and is available in metal, and as a Magna-glide core.

Below are more bobbins you may have come across while sewing, as well as a few that are just cool to know. We’ll call these our “honorable mentions”…

The Singer 163131 Bobbin:

The Singer 163131 is about the size of an American quarter. Its diameter measures approximately 27.3 mm and has a width of approximately 6.7 mm. This bobbin is only available in plastic.

This bobbin was featured in the old Singer Touch and Sews. The 3 unique lines indicate thread yardage. The inner circle equals 2 yards, the middle circle equals 10 yards, and the outer circle equals 20 yards (a full bobbin). The coolest feature is that it can be disassembled to quickly remove any unwanted thread.

The Singer 8228 Bobbin:

The Singer 8228 is probably my favorite bobbin because it looks so cool. Its diameter measures approximately 9 mm and has a width of approximately 33.4 mm. This bobbin is only available in metal.

This bobbin is used in the old Singer treadle machines and fits inside a bullet-shaped bobbin case. Pretty neat!

The Class 15J Bobbin:

The Class 15J is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.4 mm and has a width of approximately 11.3 mm. This bobbin is only available in  plastic.

This bobbin looks very similar to the Class 15 bobbin, however, there is a slight curve to the sides. Even though the curve is barely visible, it’s still significant enough to affect performance.  As such, a Class 15J should not be used in a Class 15 machine.

The Class 66 Bobbin:

The Class 66 is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.5 mm and has a width of approximately 10.9 mm. This bobbin is available in metal and plastic.

This bobbin is significantly curved on the sides and fits the black Apollo bobbin cases. Again, although this bobbin appears to be the same size as the Class 15 bobbins, it should not be used in a Class 15 machine.

The Bernina 0115367000 Bobbin:

The Bernina 0115367000 is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.5 mm and has a width of approximately 10.6 mm. This bobbin is only available in metal.

This bobbin is common in the older Bernina machines and has a distinctive cross-hatch pattern etched into the barrel. Although this is the most common Bernina bobbin, there are many other Bernina bobbin styles available.

The Juki 270010 Bobbin:

The Juki 270010 is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.8 mm and has a width of approximately 8.7 mm. This bobbin is only available in metal.

These are the most commonly used Juki bobbins and look very similar to the L Style bobbins, however, you should not use  L Style bobbins in place of the Juki 270010.

The Viking Specific 4125615-45 Bobbin:

The Viking Specific 4125615-45 is about the size of an American nickel. Its diameter measures approximately 20.9 mm and has a width of approximately 10.4 mm. This bobbin is available in plastic only.

This a Husqvarna Viking exclusive bobbin that fits most newer machines. It specifically fits all Husqvarna Viking machines in groups 5, 6, and 7.

Now that you know more about the different bobbin styles, let’s learn about general bobbin composition and care…

Metal Bobbins:

Metal bobbins are composed of treated steel. These are the most common bobbins available and are often preferred over plastic and aluminum.

Plastic Bobbins:

Plastic bobbins are becoming more popular, as they are durable and inexpensive. Despite popular belief, plastic bobbins generally perform just as well as metal bobbins.

Aluminum Bobbins:

Due to the lighter weight of aluminum, these bobbins spin faster than metal and plastic bobbins, hence the term, “Quick Wind”. Many believe aluminum bobbins perform better than metal and plastic bobbins, however, it’s worth noting that aluminum bobbins are more easily scratched and damaged.

Fil-Tec Magna-Glide Cores:

Fil-Tec’s Magna-glide pre-wound bobbins are essentially just a bobbin barrel wound with thread. The magnetic core prevents backlash, creating consistent stitches without needing a backlash spring. Once empty, the core can be disposed or recycled.

Bobbin and Bobbin Case Care:

Most importantly, you must take good care of both your bobbin and your bobbin case. The condition of your bobbin and your bobbin case dramatically affects your stitch formation. It’s important to intermittently inspect both your bobbin and your bobbin case to ensure no scratches or burrs have developed. Even the slightest nick will cause skipped stitches and thread nests. We recommend gently gliding your finger along all sides of your bobbin and bobbin case to check for inconsistencies. If you do discover a small scratch or burr, you should replace you bobbin immediately. A small scratch on your bobbin case can usually be gently buffed out with fine sandpaper. However, serious damage requires buying a whole new bobbin case.

Also, it’s best practice to use the same bobbin type as the bobbin that came with your machine. For instance, if your machine came with a plastic bobbin, you’ll have the best performance with plastic bobbins, even if metal ones are available.

If you’re not sure which bobbin your machine uses, give us a call or email us. We’re happy to help!

You may also like

48 comments

Carol E, Thomas October 3, 2017 at 9:14 am

I have a Baby Lock Rachel, could you tell me if this takes a special bobbin, they say the part code # is X52800-120. Please tell me what size bobbin in need to buy. Thank you for your help.

Reply
Sarah October 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

Hi, Carol! Your Baby Lock Rachel uses these bobbins: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/bobbins-babylock-brother-x52800150.aspx

Reply
Marcy Taitz September 16, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Does the singer quantum stylist 9960 use class 15 or 15j bobbins? There is ongoing disagreement on this so I’d like your opinion. Thanks!

Reply
Sarah September 18, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Hi! That machine uses the class 15 bobbins here: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/bobbins-class-15-plastic-10-pack.aspx

Reply
Vicky Peacock September 15, 2017 at 7:40 pm

Please discontinue sending emails
Thank you

Reply
Sarah September 18, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Hi, Vicky! We’re sad to see you unsubscribe. You can remove yourself from our newsletter by clicking the unsubscribe button at the bottom of our emails.

Reply
Linda September 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Which bobbin for Kenmore 17881 machine? the owner’s manual does not specify type. Thanks!

Reply
Ellen September 11, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Hi, Linda! Your Kenmore uses a standard class 15 bobbin. Here is a link to the bobbins for your machine: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/bobbins-class-15-metal-10-pack.aspx

Reply
Linda September 11, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Thank you!

Reply
roze September 10, 2017 at 12:46 pm

hi i have kenmore 385.19110 what bobbin should i use? thank you!

Reply
Ellen September 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Hi, Roze. Here is a link to the class 15 bobbins for your Kenmore: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/bobbins-janome-kenmore-elna-102261103.aspx

Reply
George June 4, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Thanks. Thought I had a Singer 15. Nothing fit. Your video put me on the right track to find out that it’s a model 115. When you get the right parts everything just works better. Life is funny that way. Restoring Great Grannies machine. Thanks a million!!

Reply
Sarah June 5, 2017 at 9:30 am

Our pleasure! I’m sure Great Granny will be so happy to have her machine restored!

Reply
Janet Santiago April 10, 2017 at 9:51 am

I restore and use lots of vintage machines. Thanks for the info. Don’t forget the little Featherweight and Singer 301 bobbins which are unique to those machines.

Reply
mobarak April 7, 2017 at 6:38 pm

plz i have Singer finesse 827 …what bobbin have i to use?

Reply
Sarah April 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

Hi! Your machine uses class 15 metal bobbins:https://goo.gl/gTdSWY

Reply
David McBride March 17, 2017 at 1:23 am

Am new to sewing machines, although my wife has been sewing for years and is very good. I just took a sewing machine repair class but there is a lot of stuff thst i have to learn. Enjoyed this latest topic about bobbins. Am going to print it out for future reference. Keep doing this. Thank you.

Reply
Geri Cook March 16, 2017 at 11:03 am

Which bobbin do I need for a JUKI Exceed 400? Do I use the JUKI 270010 or the 15j or the class 15. My book doesn’t seem to reference the bobbin size. Thank you in advance. Geri Cook

Reply
Sarah March 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Hi, Geri! Your machines uses class 15 bobbins. I recommend these: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/bobbins-class-15-plastic-10-pack.aspx

Reply
Sharon March 6, 2017 at 10:21 am

Informative video.

Reply
Jean Powers March 5, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I enjoyed watching your video. You mention a video for troubleshooting bobbins. I have a Singer, Model No. 6212C, no manual. Top loadong bobbin. The thread pulls easily until I close the cover, after drawing up the thread. Then it is very tight…to breaking point. I am not a novice to sewing and have had this machine for years. I hope you can help. Thank you.

Reply
Sarah March 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Hmm that is strange. Have you removed the bobbin case to see if anything is stuck under there?

Reply
Kath Jacquier February 24, 2017 at 11:46 pm

Thank you for that informative talk on bobbins,I did learn from it. What about one on different threads weights, cross wound threads and how they unwind from machine to piece being stitched. Some are very testy.

Reply
Sarah March 1, 2017 at 11:45 am

Hi, Kath! We do have a blog post on different kinds of thread here: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/blog/ultimate-thread-reference-guide/
But it hasn’t been made into a video yet.
If thread is unwinding from the spool and getting tangled, try a thread net. They make a HUGE difference.

Reply
Vicky Williams March 5, 2017 at 7:29 am

Hi ,
I have a LS14 brother sewing machine, birthday present and need to know what bobbin it is size saying SA156–SFB:XA5539-151 , please help thankyou

Reply
Sarah March 6, 2017 at 1:10 pm Reply
Vicky March 5, 2017 at 7:34 am

I have more questions!
Do I have to buy different needles for different garments?
What’s the best thread to buy
Sewing machine LS14 brother
Many thanks

Reply
Sarah March 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Hi, Vicky! You definitely want to switch out your needle depending on the fabric your sewing. We have a chart here detailing how to choose the correct needle: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/blog/finding-perfect-sewing-machine-needle-infographic/
Also, your thread choice will also depend on your project. I really like Gutermann All Purpose Polyester thread for most of my sewing: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/gutermann-thread.aspx

Reply
Rhonda February 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Interesting info. I have a 1260 Bernina and the bobbin winder is having a problem. Possibly could be the bobbin it self with a problem or the bobbin winder. Some thread companies are fine when bobbin winding but others just make a mess. Any info would be appreciated.

Reply
Sarah February 24, 2017 at 8:51 am

Hi, Rhonda! Have you had the bobbin tire replaced recently?

Reply
Caroline February 23, 2017 at 11:55 am

Thanks for the info about bobbins. I have a Bernina 550 sewing machine what can I do about nests of thread when I start to sew drives m crazy! Have any ideas. Thanks

Reply
Sarah February 24, 2017 at 8:50 am

Hi, Caroline! I just helped a friend with this same problem last night. If you tension is appropriate and your needle is threaded properly, the likely source is dust bunnies. Have you had the chance to remove your bobbin and the bobbin case to inspect for lint?

Reply
Joan February 23, 2017 at 11:36 am

Thank you for the information….please advise as to what bobbin to purchase for the Sparrow 20 by Ever Sewn

Reply
Sarah February 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

Hi, Joan! Your machine uses class 15 bobbins. We sell them here: https://goo.gl/Zj9LJV

Reply
Joan Nigrelli February 23, 2017 at 11:34 am

Great information…thank you….could you advise me on the correct bobbin for my Sparrow 20 made by Ever Sewn…thank you

Reply
Sarah March 1, 2017 at 11:43 am

Hi Joan! Your machine uses these Class 15 bobbins: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/bobbins-class-15-plastic-10-pack.aspx

Reply
Michele S February 23, 2017 at 1:10 am

Another notable point (I didn’t realize until recently when I acquired a Babylock Anna sewing machine) is that plastic and metal size 15 bobbins aren’t necessarily interchangeable. For example my old Singer can use either but my Babylock can only use the plastic. This is because of the material difference in how the bobbin housing is constructed. A metal bobbin in the babylock will chew it up whereas a plastic one is suited for it. The Singer housing is metal and therefore, either will not damage the housing.

Reply
Sarah February 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

Yes! You make an EXCELLENT point! For the best performance possible, use plastic bobbins if you machine originally came with a plastic bobbin. I’ll make sure to add that to our post!

Reply
Ruth @ Purely Splendid February 22, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Lots of great information! I’ve been sewing a l-o-n-g time and only really knew about the bobbins that I need to use. Thanks for enlightening me!
Not sure where I learned it, but the little window you refer to, I use it like you would thread a needle, starting on the inside and threading to the outside of the bobbin. I hold the thread end until the bobbin starts to wind. Doing so results in a perfectly wound bobbin- no uneven hand winding or worrying about which way to wind it. I trim that starter thread even with the top of the bobbin and I’m ready to go! I love it!

Reply
Sarah February 23, 2017 at 9:59 am

Hi, Ruth! I also use the little window for the same thing! I know some people just wrap it around and start winding, but I have better luck using the little hole!

Reply
Sally February 22, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Never knew so much about bobbins. This information will go in my notebook for yearly review. (I forget) Now to figure out what bobbin my 1950 Necchi takes.

Reply
Sarah February 23, 2017 at 9:55 am

Hi, Sally! What is the model of your Necchi machine?

Reply
Joyce February 22, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Very informative. You talk so fast, it is hard to keep up with you, so I have to play the video several times. I usually just read the article for that reason.

Reply
Sarah February 23, 2017 at 9:54 am

Hi, Joyce! I’m so sorry for speaking too quickly. It’s a bad habit of mine – I will work on it in the future. I’m glad the article has been helpful!

Reply
Michaelne Keegan February 22, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Found your Bobbin video very informative. Harriette is a great spokesperson. very clear to understand her explanation of product

Reply
Sue Cone February 22, 2017 at 8:13 am

Thanks for all the info! I had no idea there was so much to know about the bobbin except it is really bad whene there is a problem.

Reply
Harriette Estrada February 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Maybe you can do research on pre-wound bobbins?

Reply
Sarah February 22, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Hi, Harriette! We LOVE prewound bobbins – they’re a huge convenience. We sell polyester and cotton prewounds in a variety of colors and bobbin sizes. We also sell prewound cores. Can I answer any specific questions about prewounds you may have?

Reply

Leave a Comment