How to Wind a Bobbin by Hand (Step-by-Step Guide) 

sewing machine bobbin

If you want to wind a sewing bobbin by hand, don’t. Seriously. Don’t. The process is painfully slow and it is impossible to get the thread distribution just right.

If your machine’s bobbin winder is broken, you can buy a small, quality Singer bobbin winder for less than $25. You can also buy a wide selection of pre-wound bobbins on for a fraction of that price.. 

Having said that, there are some specialty threads that you may have to wind by hand. One of those is thin elastic thread that is used for smocking.

Elastic thread is difficult to wind with a traditional winder because it pulls the thread too tight, which can cause it to snap in the process. “Invisible” nylon thread is also difficult to wind with a machine because it is thicker than cotton or polyester.

The good thing is that since both of these threads are thicker, they are easier to wind consistently in the hand-winding process. Here’s how to do it:

How to Wind a Bobbin by Hand

Step 1

Start with a clean bobbin. Winding a specialty thread on top of the last little bit of regular sewing thread might cause your thread to slip. 

Step 2

Insert the thread up through a hole in the top of the bobbin. Leave a two-inch tail of thread sticking out of the top of the bobbin.

Step 3

Place your thumb on top of the thread tail to hold it against the top of the bobbin. With the other hand, wrap the thread clockwise around the thread you inserted up into the top hole. Carefully wind the thread so that it covers the bobbin post equally. Once it covers your starting thread, you may release your thumb from the thread tail on top of the bobbin.

Step 4

Continue winding the bobbin up and down the bobbin post, paying attention to equally spread out the thread so it is not bulky in one area. Stop winding just before reaching the edge of the bobbin.

Step 5

Cut the bobbin thread away from its original spool, then trim the tail on top of the bobbin so that it no longer extends outside the bobbin. Your bobbin is ready to use!

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