Bobbin Basics for Quilters


Before your bobbin gets in a bunch, take a look at this helpful video covering the basics about bobbins: 

Last week we asked you questions about bobbins, here is what we learned…

Prewound Bobbins

Prewound bobbins are disposable bobbins sold by thread manufacturers. According to the survey, only 11% of those responding use prewound bobbins regularly.

17% have tried them, but don’t use them regularly

10% have tried them, but prefer to wind their own.

3% have never heard of a prewound bobbin.

Winding Bobbins

When asked about winding bobbins ahead of time, many of you clarified that it definitely depending on the project, but otherwise, it was nearly a split vote.

50% wind bobbins before beginning a project

45% wind bobbins as they run out

Several wrote in that they fill two bobbins ahead of time, then wind as needed.

As the survey author, I was dying to ask, Have you ever run out of bobbin thread at the exact end of a project with only inches of thread left? I consider this the quilter’s Hole-in-One. But I only get five questions. For the record, it happened to me once, it was a magical day. How about you?

Matching Threads

74% of those taking the survey said they match their bobbin thread to the top thread. But many wrote in explaining when you match what to what. Here’s what we learned:

  • Most match the top thread to the fabric.
  • In piecing, some switch to a neutral in the bobbin.
  • In quilting, the top thread matches the top of the quilt, but the bobbin thread matches the backing.

Storing Bobbins

Here were the most popular:

  • Box
  • Case
  • Ring
  • Donut
  • Tube
  • Bag
  • Pegs
  • Drawer
  • Tray
  • Tin
  • Jar
  • and the #1 answer: with the spool of thread.
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Amy Allen

I also celebrate running out of bobbin at the end of my project! I try to wind just enough to make it to the end, sometimes it works and sometimes I run out with a few inches to go. I definitely prefer ending with a few inches still on my bobbin

Dottie Macomber

What’s a “draw”? Do you mean “drawer”?

Hi Dottie, Yes! It should be drawer. Thank you for letting us know! Thanks, Betsey


To keep the spool and bobbin together, I put a three-inch golf tee through both spool and bobbin and a rubber band stretched across and hooked on the ends of the tee.

Dorothy Redhorse

Have you ever run out of bobbin thread at the exact end of a project with only inches of thread left? How about you?

It happened to me only once too. Astonished moment.

I have had the good luck of running out of bobbin at the end of a project a few times. I also count it a cause for celebration when I run out of bobbin thread between sections when strip piecing and when finishing one section of quilting and moving to the next, when I would have had to cut the thread anyway. LOL, I am easy to please and take my small victories when and where I can!


I recently ran out of bobbin thread 1 inch BEFORE I finished the project… URGH