What to Do When You Run Out of Thread Mid-Seam

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Sewing without bobbin thread

It’s that dreaded moment. You’ve been sewing along, everything is going great, and then you take a closer look at your sewing and realize that you haven’t actually sewn any stitches in almost a foot of fabric. The bobbin thread ran out! The next time this happens to you, don’t panic. We’ve got you covered.

We often get asked “how do I tell when I’m running low on bobbin thread?” And truthfully, there isn’t a way to know for sure. The more you use your machine, the better idea you will get about how much thread is used and how far on certain projects one bobbin of thread will last.

The best way to reduce the risk of running out of bobbin thread is to start every project with a fresh, full bobbin. This is especially true if you are sewing a project where the look of even seams is very important, like topstitching or sewing leather or pleats. Then, when you are sewing, pay close attention to your stitches so you can catch when the bobbin runs out and you are no longer creating stitches. When this happens, it’s time to change the bobbin.

How to Change a Bobbin Mid-Seam

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Removing the bobbin case

1. When you run out of bobbin thread, stop the sewing machine. Lift the presser foot and remove the fabric.

2. Cut the trailing threads from the fabric.

3. Tilt the machine back. Remove the empty bobbin and insert a new one. If you need to wind a new bobbin, you can do so. Tip: If you need to wind a new bobbin and have an extra cone of thread, you can use that extra thread to wind the bobbin so you don’t have to unthread your machine.

4. Roll the balance wheel by hand to capture the bobbin thread.

5. Put the fabric back under the machine. Line up about 1 inch of already sewn material under the needle and sew on top of it. Be sure to bar tack when you begin sewing. It will add extra thread bulk but will strengthen your seam.

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Back to normal sewing

Although running out of thread in the middle of a large project can be an annoyance, it doesn’t have to derail your project. Now you’re all set to know how to quickly fix it and keep on sewing!

Keep spare bobbins on hand for all your sewing projects. Stock up on extras and find cases for neat bobbin storage at www.sailrite.com.

Do you have any tips or tricks for when this happens to you? Share them in the comments!

8 comments
  1. Michael Carter said:

    I have started using a red marker to color about one foot of thread as I wind the bobbin.

    • Nikki said:

      What an ingenious idea! Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  2. Capt Bill said:

    Good suggestion on spare bobbins. I’m using v-138 thread and I run out quickly. I’ve now started loading up my spare bobbins and this makes for a quick re-load.

  3. To wind a bobbin, I wedge it on a small dowel and stick it in a portable drill. Easier than retreading the machine.

    • Nikki said:

      That’s an interesting work-around. Very clever, Richard!

  4. Peggy Caynor said:

    I’ve purchased some of the pre-wound bobbins that Sailrite has for sale. They seem to be wound with a little more thread than I can wind on the traditional bobbin. Any bobbin already wound and ready to go is a time saver.

  5. Brian said:

    I leave the top thread in, insert a new bobbin, back stitch 3-5 stitch lengths and continue sewing.

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