Quilting Blog

Bobbin Work is Easier Than You Think

Beth Ferrier, instructor of the new online quilting class Machine-Finished Hand Appliqué is here to demystify bobbin work for you. You may have heard that it’s scary, difficult, intimidating, and frustrating. It’s not! As she demonstrates, bobbin work is actually quite simple, and with her tips it’s something you can bring to your next quilting project.

Hi, I’m Beth Ferrier quilting instructor for Craftsy.com. Bobbin work is one of those mysterious things that quilters hear about, and don’t quite know what to do about. They think it’s more difficult than it really is.

In a nutshell, bobbin work is simply putting our fancy threads in the bobbin and sewing with our projects upside down. We use bobbin work when the thread that we want to use is too fat to put through the needle. To tell you the truth, I’ve tried everything from crochet cotton to worsted weight yarn on a bobbin. I don’t recommend the worsted weight yarn.

The scary thing about bobbin work for a lot of people is that you do have to adjust the tension on your bobbin case. And here’s a quick tip to make that painless and fearless for you. Every sewing machine has a bobbin case of one sort or another. Some machines have a front-insert bobbin case. Others have a drop-in bobbin and the case is mostly hidden by the throat plate on the machine. Both of those kinds of bobbin cases can be very easily adjusted.

The scary thing is once you’ve started adjusting it, how can you be sure to get it back? What I’ve done is purchased an extra bobbin case and marked it with a little flash of finger nail polish: it won’t rub off. And now I know that this bobbin is used for my glamorous threads. I think it’s all polished up and ready for a night on the town. That’s how I remember which one is which. On this little bobbin case I have added the little flash of nail polish right there. So for adjusting a bobbin case for using the bobbin work in the fatter threads we will be looking for the screw that has a slot.

For adjusting the tension, I like to think of the little screw as the clock base and the slot in the screw are the hands of the clock. And when I adjust it, I’m going to turn it just as if the hands are moving 5 minutes at a time. To tighten you go to the right, or clockwise, and for looser we’re going to turn it counter-clockwise. And for bobbin work that’s mostly what we’re going to be doing is loosening the tension.

Once you get over the fear of playing around with the bobbin case it’s going to open up the world of threads to you in such magnificent ways that you can add zest and pizazz to your machine-quilted quilts. I’m Beth Ferrier instructor for Machine-Finished Hand Appliqué on Craftsy.com.

If you liked this tip, be sure to come back to the Craftsy blog on Wednesday to learn more from Beth! But first, learn more about her quilting history here and how to hang a quilt on a wall without push pins.




Thank you for bobbin information. I need to take your class….


Kathleen Shannon

Nice to see you here Beth. I’ve learned so much from you. I’ve been in a couple of your classes, in Davison, Michigan.



Interesting! The links for hanging the quilt and Beth’s history are not working.

Sue Fullwood

The only reservation I have is to be aware that bobbin cases for drop in bobbins can be a little expensive. Front loading bobbin cases tend to be cheaper and more manageable for different threads.

One of the things I am constantly addressing when people come in with machine problems is not knowing about their bobbins, cases and basic machine functions.

I would recommend looking at a variety of media and sites available to familiarise yourself with what your own machine is sooooo capable of.


Thanks Tammy! They’re working now 🙂

Lenore Plumier

I have only one bobbin for my machine that I purchased in 1962. It is a Sears , machine and I want to buy an extra bobbin. It has been in storage for about 10 or 12 years but stills runs well. Can you provide me with a new bobbin?


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