If you are anything like most people who sew, you have used or owned more than one sewing machine in your lifetime. For many of us, we have owned a few sewing machines, and over time, we have accumulated a plethora of accessories. Often, we don’t even remember which machine they were with originally. Many sewing machine accessories and bobbins look very similar, and it is easy to make the mistake of using the wrong bobbin. While many bobbins look the same, they may have slight differences in diameter, height, or depth.
The “Universal Bobbin”
There is no such thing as a universal bobbin, meaning no single bobbin will fit every sewing machine. Some sewing machines tolerate a slightly different bobbin better than others, but using the incorrect bobbin will most likely affect the stitch quality of your project, and could result in damage to your machine. In the instance of Bernina’s CB type bobbin case, we often see that if our customer puts in a bobbin that is too small in diameter, the thread can tangle in the bobbin case while sewing, and the thread breaks. In a Janome sewing machine where the bobbin loads from the top, if a bobbin is used that is too tall, the machine will certainly jam.
The Right Bobbins
Every sewing machine manufacturer includes bobbins with the accessories that come with a new sewing machine. For a few sewing machine manufacturers like Elna, Kenmore, and Janome, the same bobbin is used in nearly all of their models. With Bernina, most of their new machines use only one of two bobbin types, but if you count older machines, there are perhaps 7 or 8 different bobbin types that exist. Knowing this, it’s not good enough to buy a Janome bobbin, a Bernina bobbin, or any other sewing machine manufacturer’s bobbins and presume that it is the right one. Just because you own a Bernina, a Janome, a Singer, a Babylock, a Pfaff, a Brother, etc., does not mean that every bobbin from that sewing machine manufacturer will fit your same make, but different model machine. The bobbin type should be verified in your owner’s manual or with your local sewing machine dealer.
Is Generic or After-Market OK?
There are a number of notions companies that offer “after-market” or “generic” bobbins. These bobbins tend to cost less than the manufacturer’s bobbins, but are they as good as the manufacturer’s bobbins? In many cases, these after-market / generic bobbins will work just fine in the machines they are claiming to fit. If you are unsure about using these bobbins, you might try a pack. Some are less than half the price of the genuine bobbins, so you don’t have a lot to lose.
Even Genuine Bobbins are Relatively Inexpensive
In the grand scheme of things, bobbins are truly inexpensive. Because we are living in a time when one could expect pay over $10,000.00 for a sewing machine, why would we “cheap-out” on bobbins? Does using the correct bobbin really matter? It matters.
Throw Away Those Unidentifiable Bobbins!
If you happen to have “foreign” bobbins hanging out in your sewing room, you might mistakenly fill one and put it in your sewing machine. The best thing to do is to get rid of them. Throw them away or give them away before they cause you problems!