B is for Bobbin
Cruising down the alphabet (at not so lightning speed) we have reached my favourite letter! Of course, with a name like Betsi Beem, it is pretty obvious why that is. It is such a great letter for alliteration. At one point in my life I was even endearingly called Bubbles Beem (not Patsy… my new moniker from the lovely Annette).
Back to sewing… I decided to make this week’s focus to be on bobbins, mostly because of all the b’s… and that those little things are all at once, fascinating, infuriating, perplexing, and always RUNNING OUT OF THREAD!!! I mean, really, how many time have you been happily sewing along when you realize the half the hem you’ve done wasn’t really done at all. Ugh.
So, what purpose does a bobbin have and how come we just can’t stick a whole spool of thread down there and call it done? I did a little research and this is what I found (thanks to a fabulous website: moah.org). Back in the day (we’re talking 1850 here) Allen B. Wilson invented a bobbin that refined the lock stitch using two threads; one from above the fabric and one from a small bobbin below.
There is a fabulous video of a bobbin in action on the moah.org website:
Moah.org describes the mechanism… The upper, or needle, thread travels through the fabric, making a loop, that is then caught by a hook traveling on a curved path… the hook takes the loop right around the bobbin and loops the bobbin thread, then the upper needle withdraws, pulling the lower thread into the fabric. Hence, the bobbin’s got to be small enough for the needle thread to loop around. That is why I’m always running out of thread!
Now that we have the mechanics out of the way, what else do we know?
#1 MOST IMPORTANT RULE ABOUT BOBBINS
ONLY use bobbin that is made for your machine!! Yep. Check before you buy. These days with the internet on your phone, you have NO excuse.
#2 A BADLY Spun bobbin won’t sew! Make it nice.
#3 Tired of having your bobbin run out so quickly??? Annette’s divine trick is to wind your thread around the bobbin winder tensioner TWICE to load more thread on your spool! (Love this one!)
There are short cuts, too. CQW has some pre-wound bobbins that will make your life so much easier! The colours are just divine!
The other thing about bobbins is that, if left un-contained, they can just get themselves in a right mess! How familiar does this look???
Well help is here! I like the clever storage circle… or… the beautiful Bobbin Bobbies that pop right in the top of your spool of thread and allow you to keep the matching bobbin on top.
Another thing I learned about at a talk at one of the shows by Punch with Judy, were these little magic bits of wonder: Magic bobbin washers
These little wonders help eliminate “birds nests” on the underside of free motion quilting or embroidery or you-know-when-you-are-sewing-a-long-straight-line-really-quickly-and-your-bobbin-is-getting-low-and-starts-rattling-around-and-the-next-thing-you-know-you-have-a-mess??????? Yep. Just pop this little wonder in your bobbin case and you are on your way.
So, bobbins are an essential part of our sewing lives, and even though they can sometimes be a bit persnickety, there are solutions out there!! I hope this helps!
See you next week for C is for Collage Quilts!