Bobbin work – An easy way to stitch with thick thread

Do you have a box full of beautiful thick thread, yarn, and ribbon which you know can be used for decorating the fabric you have but would not go through your sewing machine needle and you are too lazy to painstakingly stitch it by handwork. I understand.This is where bobbin work comes to the rescue. Nice 3 D work ( great texture work) done fast with your sewing machine – most thick thread, knitting yarn and small ribbon can be used in bobbin work

bobbin work

What is Bobbin work ?


Bobbin work is a type of 3-dimensional stitching where you create designs on the surface of the fabric with the thread you want on top of the fabric winded on the bobbin. Instead of the thread you can use ribbon or yarn etc.  In this work. you will be working on the back of the fabric so that the design appears on the face of the fabric.

The advantage of this method is that you can use thick thread/ yarn /ribbon which would not pass through the top needle for embroidering and unlike couching with sewing machine, there is no sewing thread across.

How to do Bobbin work?

Wind the bobbin with the thread you want (depending on the effect you want); draw up the bobbin thread through the needle plate hole. Draw the design on the back of the fabric. Keep the fabric back side up under the needle and do the stitching. This way the bobbin work will be worked on the right side of the fabric. You can create an unparalleled texture with this method.

Step 1

Draw the design on the back of the fabric ( on the wrong side of the fabric) . It is a good idea to interface the back. I always draw the design on the matt side of the interfacing, fix it on the fabric and do the work.

Step 2

Wind the bobbin slowly by hand winding slowly and evenly without twisting the thick thread/ ribbon- this is the most important thing in doing bobbin work evenly.

Ensure that the bobbin is not fully winded.3/4 is enough.Trim the thread/yarn/ribbon close to the bobbin..

Step 3

Loosen the screw in the bobbin case to loosen the tension. ( loosen by moving the crew with a small screw driver to the left).keep the bobbin on the bobbin case. if you have a machine in which you do not have a bobbin case (the modern drop in bobbins) keep the bobbin on the machine as you would do with an ordinary thread winded bobbin.

Take the thread/yarn/ribbon through the tension slot in the bobbin area- if you are using thicker thread you maynot be able to get the thread through the tension slot. For the drop in bobbin cases you can let the thread feed straight up without going through the tension slot.

Step 4

Thread the machine top thread – You can use monofilament, cotton, polyester or rayon thread. A transparent thread is used when you do not want any of the top thread to appear on the face of the fabric ( some inevitably will) you can use metallic thread for a wonderful effect.

Take up the thread/ yarn or ribbon up through the needle hole.

Step 5

Start sewing

Sew with the right side of the fabric face down on the cover plate of your sewing machine. Sew at the lowest speed possible on.

Adjust tension to get an even feed.

When I finish a long line I do not cut the bottom thread, instead just cut the top thread and then continue from the next area. Or when the bobbin thread ends, pull up on the top needle thread, to get the bobbin thread to the back of the fabric. Cut off. And start anew with new bobbin winded.

After everything is finished, take up the work and then cut the threads on the face of the fabric close to the fabric and use a little fray check or fabric glue on the cut ends. This usually makes the thick thread in place and makes the work easy. Some others advice to leave a long tail and bring it to the back and then Tie a knot with the top thread.

You can embellish the bobbin worked surface with beads, sequins, buttons, tassels, other embroidery stitches, mirror work, silk ribbon stitches

One warning though – if you want precision stitching this is not the work for you. Another thing is this can frustrate you a lot – because the single thread behaves differently every time you start anew. You will have to experiment with fabric scraps to get your work just right for you- note down each setting and then compare.

And if you have changed your mind about couching here is the tutorial for doing couching

Related posts

tibbon embroidery flowers   fabric manipulation



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