Bobbin tension and bobbin thread selection…

SAVE on Superior Thread at SewThankful.com

Sew…you have your project. 

You’ve picked your “top” thread. 

Now you are wondering, “What do I put in the bobbin?”

Choosing a proper bobbin thread is critical to the success of your project.
Yet there is no one-size-fits-all answer to bobbin thread selection. As with selection of the “top” thread, the choice of the bobbin thread is dependent upon the needs of the project (fabric type & weight), the function of the item being sewn, etc.

Heavier fabrics generally require heavier threads.  Choosing the same thread for the bobbin is absolutely fine if you want to wind your own.  Yet, SuperBOBs have the strength needed to match most all top threads in most all sewing situation (with the exception of very thick and heavy denims, upholstery, etc.).

Thread Tension:  It’s a balancing act. You want a balanced stitch and that means even thread on the top and the bobbin without either poking through to the other side.  The following picture is the best image I have ever seen demonstrating balanced tension and solutions (scroll down for a text link to a printable version):

SuperiorThreadTensionBalance

Click here for a printable document (PDF file) for this image.

The above image provided for your education with permission provided by Superior Threads. Copyright for the above image belongs solely to Superior Threads, all rights reserved. For uses beyond personal education (of the above image), please contact Superior Threads directly–contact information is provided on the image.

YES, you can adjust your tension (both on the top and on the bobbin) if necessary.  You own your sewing machine. You have permission.

Problem: Eyelashes and Loopies with thread breakage on top.

If you are experiencing problems when using a smooth and fine bobbin thread, like The Bottom Line or SuperBOBs, it is likely that your bobbin case’s factory settings are not applying the breaks correctly when you come to a stop. The bobbin thread
causes a backlash (continuing to unwind, forming a loop) then when you start sewing again the force of motion will whip forward causing the thread to break.

Solution? Tighten your bobbin case tension just a smidge (less than 1/8th of a turn).  Remember the clockwise “turning” rule:  lefty loosey, righty tighty.

Hint: Perform the tightening or loosening adjustments to the bobbin case inside a large ziplock bag.  This way you can see what you are doing but in the event you accidentally turn it the wrong way or turn it too far and the little screw pops out you won’t have to search forever to find it.

Problem: The bobbin thread keeps jamming and snapping.

Solution? Using thick, heavy and/or decorative threads in the bobbin requires LOOSENING the bobbin case tension.

Problem: Have you ever experienced frustration from knowing you have the correct bobbin tension setting but the top thread still breaks?  You loosen the top thread but then you get loops?

Solution? Try just very slightly loosening BOTH the top tension and the bobbin tension.

Timesaver IDEA: If you sew with all different weights of thread in the bobbin on a regular basis, keep 2 or 3 different bobbin cases, each set for the weights of thread you use most.  Be certain to mark them so that you choose the correct one each time.

OKAY…sew, what do I use in my bobbin?

For piecing and most general quilting I personally tend to use the same thread in the top as in the bobbin.

I have used Presencia 50wt, Presencia 60wt, Masterpiece,So Fine, and The Bottom Line in the top AND bobbin for both piecing and quilting.

I have also mixed SuperBOBs (which is The Bottom Line Thread in pre-wound format) in the bobbin with all of the above threads and when quilting with King Tut.  King Tut is not recommended for piecing.

When quilting, topstitching, thread painting or embellishing with Glitter, Art Studio Colors, Living Colors, and LAVA, I like to use The Bottom Line (or SuperBOBs) in the bobbin.

When doing Razzle Dazzle bobbin work (reverse quilting with Razzle Dazzle in the bobbin), I usually use a blending Bottom Line thread on the top.

SAVE on Superior Thread at SewThankful.com

4 thoughts on “Bobbin tension and bobbin thread selection…”

  1. Thank you Sunny!

    I’m so glad you are finding the series of value to you. I expect to offer part 3 in the series this coming week/weekend.

    Yes, you are right! Superior Threads are very good. That is why I use them and we stock them. I truly believe quality is worth the price. Superior (Bob, Heather and their crew) are very concerned about their products and offer great support! They do listen to customer feedback and over the years I have repeatedly seen substantial and significant proof of their support of the products they offer.

    Hugs & smiles from New Mexico! Tracy

  2. First, congratulations on seeing your son after so long!!!!

    Second, this series on threads is very good – valuable info so succinctly presented. Thank you! I met Bob years and years ago at the Pacific International Quilt Show in Santa Clara, CA, when few people had heard of Superior thread. I purchased about 15 spools or so of Rainbow threads. Years later when I started to embellish with it, something didn’t work. I e-mailed them, tried all their suggestions, and eventually Superior replaced every spool I had. They said they now produce them differently. I am a definite fan and LOVE the Bottom Line as well as many other of their threads!

  3. Hi Denise,

    Thanks so much for your note. I’m very happy to know you’ve found the information helpful.
    Hugs & smiles from New Mexico, USA,

    Tracy

  4. Tracy–Thank you for sharing this info with us. I have found it to be very helpful. Using the right thread and knowing when and how to use it, is so important to having successful results on my various projects. Denise

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