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Why Does My Machine Not Pick Up Bobbin Thread? Solutions (2023)

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machine not picking bobbin threadInvestigating the truth of a theory, you may be wondering why your sewing machine is not picking up the bobbin thread. With all its components and settings, it can be difficult to pinpoint what’s causing this issue.

Fortunately, this post will provide helpful solutions for when your machine won’t pick up bobbin thread so that you can get back to stitching! From short thread tails to improper needle insertion and beyond, there are many factors that could cause problems with the way in which your sewing machine functions.

Read on as we discuss each potential root cause – from lint buildup in the bobbin case right through to choosing the right kind of bobbin – along with troubleshooting tips that should help resolve any issues quickly and easily.

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure that the thread tails are long enough for the needle and upper thread to grab hold, to prevent stitching from coming undone.
  • Properly set the thread tension based on the needle size, stitch length, and fabric type to ensure smooth stitching.
  • Check that the bobbin is wound correctly and evenly, without any knots, before inserting it into the bobbin case.
  • Make sure to insert the needle correctly and use the right needle size to avoid ruining stitching.

Short Thread Tails

machine not picking bobbin thread 1
Having too-short thread tails can cause your stitching efforts to come undone, so make sure they’re long enough for the needle and upper thread to grab hold! This is especially true when you’re dealing with a sewing machine that isn’t picking up the bobbin thread.

Before attempting repairs or replacing parts, check if there’s an issue with the length of your threads. Thread tension must be set correctly depending on needle size, stitch length, and fabric type, as well as using quality threads that aren’t damaged or fraying.

Improperly wound bobbins can also lead to tension issues. Ensure they’re even without knots before inserting them into the bobbin case.

And finally, make sure both upper and lower threads have been pulled through completely.

Incorrect Needle Insertion

Incorrect Needle Insertion
If you don’t secure the needle in its correct position, your stitching efforts can be ruined – no matter how much thread taming and tension tweaking you do.

Check that the needle is the right size for your fabric type and stitch length. Then, insert it into the machine’s needle plate with its flat side facing up towards you. Make sure to fit it all the way into the top shank of the machine so that the entire point of the tip may pass through the slot on the throat plate.

Always ensure to turn the handwheel towards the user when inserting needles. Inserting them the wrong way will interfere with the hook timing settings needed for proper functioning!

Lastly, check if there’s enough thread between the upper and lower threads for a smooth catch by the Needle Thread Catch.

Bobbin Case Lint Buildup

Bobbin Case Lint Buildup
Now that you’ve inserted the needle correctly, it’s time to look at another potential issue: bobbin case lint buildup. Lint can accumulate in the shuttle area and affect thread tension settings, resulting in poor stitch quality or skipped stitches.

Here are a few tips on how to do so:

  • Check your machine’s manual for specific instructions on how often and the best way to clean your machine of lint buildup.
  • Regularly inspect both upper and lower threads of different types, such as cotton or polyester, before inserting them into the machine.
  • Adjust feed dogs’ height according to changing needs, depending on the fabric type being sewn. This will ensure smooth movement without any potential issues arising due to excessive friction caused by thick material passing through small spaces between plates/tension discs, etc.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to keep your sewing experience running like a well-oiled (or rather well-lubed) machine!.

Improper Bobbin Winding

Improper Bobbin Winding
It’s essential to make sure that your bobbin is wound correctly and evenly, as uneven winding or knots can prevent it from properly functioning. Even if you’ve already cleaned lint buildup, improper bobbin winding could still be the cause of your sewing machine troubles.


  • Thread tension: Adjust for different types of fabric
  • Needle size: Correct needle should match thread
  • Fabric type: Choose correct setting for material
  • Bobbin size: Ensure proper fit
  • Stitch length: Set accordingly
  • Tension discs: Check connection between upper & lower threads
  • Thread guides: Align with take-up lever
  • Little screw: Make adjustments in small increments

To avoid issues caused by improper bobbin winding, check both upper and lower threads before inserting them into the machine.

Regularly inspect each component mentioned above – especially when switching out fabrics or needles – so that everything works together seamlessly without causing any further problems down the line! With these tips in mind, you’ll have a smoother stitching experience all around.

Incorrect Bobbin Insertion

Incorrect Bobbin Insertion
You must ensure the correct insertion of your bobbin for smooth stitching – so double-check that it’s properly inserted and tightened! To get the best results, pay attention to each detail:

  • Bobbin Positioning: Make sure it is correctly aligned in the shuttle area of your sewing machine.
  • Thread Tension: Adjust accordingly for different types of fabric.
  • Needle Selection & Quality: Select a needle size matching thread quality and be sure to tighten its eye securely before inserting it into a piece of your sewing machine.

Also, regularly inspect tension discs connection between upper & lower threads as well as thread guides alignment with the take-up lever using little screw adjustments when necessary.

Finally, keep an eye on lint buildup in the bobbin case or warped bobbins which might hinder stitch formation. Use the proper spool holder position and winding technique while ensuring accurate placement before inserting it into your machine.

Choosing the Right Bobbin

Choosing the Right Bobbin
Choosing the right bobbin might seem like a minor detail, but it can make all the difference in your sewing success! It’s important to ensure that you select a bobbin type and size that is compatible with your machine, thread quality, and tension.

The top thread should be slightly looser than the bottom of the feed dogs to achieve the proper tension level. Also, use slight variation when winding bobbins. Additionally, avoid bent needles or over-tightening them for better stitch formation.


  • Check for correct needle insertion before stitching.
  • Ensure lint buildup doesn’t hinder stitch formation.
  • Wind bobbins evenly without knots or overfilling.

With these tips in mind, you’ll find yourself getting consistent results every time while avoiding any potential problems from occurring down the line! But even if something does go wrong, know there are resources available, such as an affordable ebook version, which offers solutions to 20 common sewing machine issues and helps save money on repair technician costs too!

Warped or Damaged Bobbin

Warped or Damaged Bobbin
If your bobbin is warped or damaged, it can prevent you from getting the quality stitches that you desire. To ensure proper tension and stitch formation, check for the correct needle size and type, as well as thread size, before beginning to sew.

Make sure the metal plate is free of lint buildup for better pick-up of threads and avoid short thread tails that may get sucked into the machine or not be grabbed by the upper thread. Replace any warped or damaged bobbins with new ones to properly hold onto your chosen threads throughout the stitching process.

Additionally, wind bobbins evenly without knots or overfilling so they will fit correctly through both top and bottom needles when picking up bobbin thread while sewing.

Off Hook Timing

Off Hook Timing
Improper hook timing can disrupt the tension and stitching you need for a successful project. This is one of the biggest reasons why your pesky bobbin thread refuses to cooperate! Checking tension, adjusting your hook timing, and making sure all parts are properly oiled will help ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Mechanical sewing machines typically have marks on either side of their back indicating proper placement for optimal results when picking up thread from the bobbin case. It might be necessary to adjust these if they have been moved or knocked out of place over time.

In addition, keeping an eye on your upper thread tension setting makes sure it’s not too tight or loose, which could affect stitch quality as well as cause difficulty in retrieving bobbin threads correctly during sewing sessions.

If all else fails, then consulting a troubleshooting book may be necessary – but before rushing off to buy one, make sure you check out our affordable ebook version online! It contains solutions for 20 common problems related to machine malfunctioning, so take advantage today and save money on repair technician costs while mastering control over understanding how your sewing machine works best!

Troubleshooting Tips

Troubleshooting Tips
To help you successfully tackle needle trouble in your stitching projects, our ebook contains handy troubleshooting tips for the 20 most common sewing machine problems – saving you up to 75% on repair technician costs!

First and foremost, it’s important to avoid jams by ensuring proper thread tension. If your older sewing machine has too much tension, simply lessen it until a four-inch tail of thread can be pulled from beneath fabric without resistance.

Regular maintenance is essential for avoiding such issues; checking hook timing and replacing or oiling parts should always be done before beginning any project.

Lastly, choosing the correct needle size is another key factor since a smaller one may not pick up bobbin threads properly – this being the biggest culprit of the needle misfiring issue!

With these tips at hand plus our book’s advice on how best to handle other malfunctioning symptoms like skipped stitches or uneven loops – you’ll soon have complete control over understanding how your sewing machine works best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I replace my sewing machine needle?

You should replace your sewing machine needle every 3-4 months to ensure consistent, top-quality stitching. Regular maintenance will help prevent thread from becoming tangled or snagging on the material.

How can I prevent short thread tails from occurring?

To prevent short thread tails, adjust the needle to the correct depth and tension. Ensure that it is inserted properly and tightened securely. Verify that your bobbin size matches the requirements of your machine and make sure it is wound evenly without any knots or overfilling.

Regularly clean out lint buildup to achieve optimal stitch formation, and then insert it correctly into its case before sewing.

How do I clean lint from the bobbin case?

Clean lint from your bobbin case by using a soft brush to remove any debris. If necessary, utilize canned air or a small vacuum cleaner with an attachment specifically designed for tight spaces. Regularly inspect for buildup and clean as required to ensure optimal stitching results.

What should I do if the bobbin is not winding properly?

Check the tension of the bobbin, ensure it is wound correctly and evenly. If it is warped or damaged, replace it with a properly fitting new one. Make sure the thread tails are long enough to be grabbed by the upper thread. Avoid overfilling or creating knots while winding to ensure smooth functioning.

What type of bobbin should I use for my sewing machine?

You should use the bobbin that matches your machine’s specifications. Check your manual for the correct size and type of bobbin to ensure it will work properly with your sewing machine. Consider purchasing pre-wound bobbins as they are easier to use and can save time in threading up.


If you’re having trouble with your sewing machine not picking up the bobbin thread, there are a variety of potential causes that can be addressed. Sometimes it’s as simple as short thread tails, incorrect needle insertion, or lint buildup in the bobbin case.

Other times, it could be due to improper bobbin winding, incorrect bobbin insertion, or even the wrong bobbin size.

To prevent further issues, replace any warped or damaged bobbins and keep an eye on the off hook timing. With a few troubleshooting tips, you can save money on repair technician costs and keep your machine running smoothly.

Don’t forget to check out the Sewing Machine Troubleshooting Page for additional information and helpful hints. With a bit of knowledge and a few tips, you can keep your sewing machine running like a dream.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.