The Importance of Using the Right Bobbins

The Right BobbinsIf 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!

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Reader Comments (46)

Charlene on 3/8/13 @ 12:00am

Do you sell Singer bobbins for a Featherweight 221?

b.gottier on 3/8/13 @ 12:01am

We normally keep these in stock. Call in advance if you want to be sure.

regina on 7/11/14 @ 5:02pm

Where do i purchase bobbins for brothers sewing machine jx2517 having issues with finding them.

b.gottier on 8/4/14 @ 4:23pm

Have you tried a Brother dealer?

Dori on 5/31/15 @ 3:35pm

The Isacord thread does not fit on my Janome 8200QC, in the lay down position, or the stand up position. I have a stand alone. However, in trying to wind my bobbins, I have broken several. What can I do; I like this thread for quilts.

b.gottier on 6/1/15 @ 2:27pm

Janome makes an optional accessory spool stand that mounts to the back of your 8200QC. It would be perfect for Isacord.

Randy on 7/11/15 @ 6:51pm

I am looking for bobbins and a bobbin holder for a universal sewing machine made for standard sewing equipment. Can you help with what size this is? Thank you

b.gottier on 7/13/15 @ 2:53pm

Randy, there is no universal bobbin, and likewise no "standard" sewing equipment. I can't help you without knowing what type of machine(s) you have.

Tom on 9/28/16 @ 5:19pm

This is a class 15 machine. 1 o'clock bobbin case and class 15 bobbins. You might have gotten a better answer if you'd asked it as "I need a bobbin case and bobbins for a Universal branded machine made in Japan for the Standard Sewing Equipment Company." The original responder did not understand the question.

Gail on 8/24/15 @ 10:57am

I need a bobbin for a Nelco zigzag machine model SZA- 221F. I HAVE TRIED CLASS 66 AND 15 BUT they DO NOT WORK.

b.gottier on 8/25/15 @ 9:50am

Hi Gail. We don't have access to anything that will work for you. I recommend contacting a Nelco dealer.

s.maney on 9/6/15 @ 8:26am

Hi...I have inherited a Bernina 440 QE and am trying to figure out the bobbin situation. I've got tons of class 15 bobbins but I understand my machine uses class 15 CB. What would happen if I used a regular class 15? It's a really nice machine and I don't want to tear it up!

Thanks for your help!

b.gottier on 9/11/15 @ 8:50am

As long as the bobbin fits nicely into the bobbin case, and doesn't have extra space around the sides, you should be fine. The bobbins for the Bernina 440 are not especially unique if compared to many other bobbins.

Linda Leavelle on 9/7/15 @ 6:38pm

I have a 1914 Baer and Rempel Phoenix MB treadle sewing machine. I have been searching for bobbins for it and have had no luck. Can you please help me? The bobbin is dome shaped on both sides and the center hole is sunken in. The bobbin measures 15/16" diameter and the highest part of thickness is 5/16". The center would be just slightly less than 5/16". I hope you can help me on this.

b.gottier on 9/11/15 @ 8:48am

Sorry Linda, we don't have any information about that machine, and simply having those measurements doesn't provide us with enough to suggest a bobbin that would work. If you were to bring the bobbin to us, or send it to us in the mail, we'd be glad to see what we can find.

Ellen Hernandez on 9/11/15 @ 5:23pm

Linda, have you tried ? Ask your question in the Vintage and Antique thread. Many people on there collect and work on antique sewing machines

Mary on 4/7/16 @ 12:26pm

I have the same machine with only one bobbin. It's just a little bit wider than a Wheeler and Wilson number 9 bobbin, so I'm going to see if one of those bobbins will work. The Phoenix is the German version of the WW number 12. I used to own one of those and still have one bobbin, but it's a lot deeper than the Phoenix bobbin. I'd love to hear from you, Linda.

Marcy Taitz on 7/14/16 @ 9:02pm

There is a lot of controversy about which bobbin to use in the Singer QUantum Stylist models, should it be 15 or 15J. Do you have an opinion on this? Will either one be okay? The 15 has a slightly looser fit, having a smaller diameter but it's slightly taller. I have tried both and they work. Thank you.

b.gottier on 7/15/16 @ 12:47pm

I don't really have an opinion that is worth much, because we've never been a Singer dealer. Bobbins are so cheap; I think you should try both.

Dolores Leatherwood on 3/19/19 @ 1:04pm

I've read the same thing. I found that the 15J works better on my machine and the 15 does not. Maybe it is a matter of what machine or year it was made.

Mary on 8/1/16 @ 4:27pm

I have a 40 year old Elna SU. Can I use modern Elna bobbins which are sold for modern machines?

b.gottier on 8/1/16 @ 5:03pm

Hi Mary. No, they are not the same. The good news is that the older Elna bobbins are still available. You could contact us over the phone, or go to your local sewing machine store to get some. If you're interested in getting them from us, our phone number is (951) 694-9576.

JUDY on 8/30/16 @ 8:26am

I have a Sears Kenmore 385.19110. from 2009.
It has been jamming for as long as I've had it. I use the old metal bobbins from my old kenmore machine because they fit & I have lots of them.
Someone suggested the jamming was because I am not using the correct bobbin. So,I recently started using the
original plastic bobbins that came with it. I only have 3...I need lots more. So I ordered 50 from ebay for $12 that are supposed to fit all kenmore 385 mahines. they do fit, they do work but I've noticed that with all the plastic bobbins I am not getting a nice stitch like I do with the metal is loopy & looser & not pretty. Adjusting the tension..there is only a top tension adjustment...doesn't change a thing. Today I read that using the metal bobbins will mess up the magnetized bobbin deal. Now I don't know what to do. I need a nice stitch for top stitching things also don't like a loose stitch that pulls right out.
The originals from Sears cost $4 for 10 but the shipping is almost twice that much & no where to buy locally.
I don't know what to do.

b.gottier on 8/30/16 @ 10:02am

Hi Judy. If you're having problems with the plastic bobbins, then I'd suggest taking a look to see if you have any lint or thread stuck in the bobbin case's tension spring. You might not be able to see it without taking the bobbin case apart, and if that's the case you might try another bobbin case. It's fairly common that lint or thread get caught in the bobbin case. If that's not the problem, it sounds like you might have a timing issue. Either way, if you haven't had your machine serviced since 2009, it's due!

Beth on 10/31/16 @ 1:34pm

What is the correct bobbin for Janome NQM 2016? Want correct size before purchasing several. Thanks

b.gottier on 11/1/16 @ 4:18pm

Beth, the NQM 2016 uses the standard plastic Janome bobbin.

DeeAnn on 12/3/16 @ 7:53pm

I inherited a Brother JX2517 sewing machine. Does Dritz Class 66 or Dritz Class 15 bobbins work in this machine? Which one? Thanks!

b.gottier on 12/7/16 @ 12:14am

That's probably a question for a Brother dealer. If we had your machine in our shop, or could see one of your existing bobbins, then we could probably figure it out. We just don't have access to that kind of information. Sorry!

Alice on 12/21/16 @ 12:30pm

I found a beautiful like new White 1919 sewing machine at a thrift store for $15.00. The only problem is that it came with only 3 bobbins. They have 7 holes. What bobbin will fit this machine?

b.gottier on 12/21/16 @ 6:16pm

The number of holes doesn't really mean anything. I would try Singer Class 15, Bernina CB, or standard Janome type bobbins.

nartarsha on 12/28/16 @ 8:36pm

im looking for bobbins and manuel for stretch & sew e-76 what size bobbins fit

Betty on 3/12/17 @ 12:18pm

I've mixed up the bobbins for my Pfaff Passport 3.0 and my Janome machine. They look identical to me. Are they interchangeable? Thanks!

b.gottier on 3/13/17 @ 3:17pm

I'm not familiar with the Pfaff bobbins, but if they are truly identical then they should work fine.

Lisa on 7/31/17 @ 8:29pm

I bought a Kenmore 1802 on Craigslist. Excellent condition. Uses class 15 bobbins, only 1 came with the machine. I bought some new ones, class 15, but they don't fit the bobbin threader. I don't understand

b.gottier on 8/1/17 @ 8:00am

Hi Lisa. There are obviously some differences in class 15 bobbins. I would just try another brand of class 15 bobbins.

Gail on 10/2/17 @ 8:32am

Can I use the bobbins that have a smooth center? They look like the orginal bernina bobbins

b.gottier on 10/4/17 @ 11:00am

You may be right. Some older Bernina bobbins had a smooth center. If they're the exact same size as the ones you know are right for your machine, then they should work.

Kelly Maier on 10/14/17 @ 11:48am

Bobbin help!
I have a c~1879 Bradbury & Co, Oldham sewing machine, variously referred to in the literature as: the "Leather Workers sewing machine" or "Boot Patchers machine" or "Elastic Machine " or Universal Feed Machine" or "A1 Repairing Machine". I've done some searching but can find no pictures or information specifically about the bobbin type needed. It is a round, shallow shuttle hole with a circumference slightly larger than a dime but smaller than a nickel. Any suggestions would be welcome? Thank you!

Kathy B Yost on 11/10/17 @ 3:41pm


Jackie D on 1/30/18 @ 11:07am

I have purchased a Janome 1008. What size and height is the bobbin needed? I have a Bernina. Will they take the same bobbin? Thank you.

b.gottier on 1/31/18 @ 8:42pm

Jackie, you should for sure use Janome bobbins. Call us or come by during normal business hours. We have them in stock.

Newtosewingmachines on 2/21/18 @ 11:47pm

Hello! I have a Brother Sewing Machine, Model JX2517, and I was wondering if the Bobbins that I was given will actually fit it? They're Singer Class 66 Bobbins. I'm wanting to ask all the right questions, since I'm new to using a Sewing Machine.

b.gottier on 2/24/18 @ 2:43pm

Knowing the Class 66 bobbin well, I doubt that is the right bobbin for your JX2517. I think you would want to contact a Brother dealer for bobbins.

Debbie on 3/30/18 @ 2:05pm

I just inherited a Bernina 910 from my mother in law. I have a brother is 2000. The bobbins look the same size. In fact she had several bobbins like my brother bobbins. Only 2 of her bobbins had the 7 holes on the top. Can I use the brother bobbins in the Bernina machine? And are needles interchangable between the Bernina, brother and an older singer machine I have?

b.gottier on 3/31/18 @ 2:06pm

I think it's alright to try the Brother sewing machine bobbins in the Bernina sewing machine. If they work, and if they wind correctly, then you'll know they're OK to use. The needles are probably the same for both machines.

Maureen on 2/9/19 @ 10:17am

I have a dress maker model number 2402. It is in pristine condition but has no manual, or Bobbons. Do you know what size? And where can I get a manual?

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