Sewing Machine Not Picking Up Bobbin Thread? (Solved)

There is nothing that could be more annoying than getting into a flow with your sewing machine and then having issues with the machine trying to catch the bobbin.

What do you do about it when this happens?

Read on for some great information and tips that will help you with your sewing machine and that pesky bobbin thread.

What Does the Bobbin Thread Do?

Before we get into how to fix it, I thought it would be nice to go over what a bobbin thread does.

A sewing machine creates stitches by locking two threads together through the fabric that you are trying to sew.

This comes from both the top thread and the bobbin thread working together. So when your bobbin thread is not getting picked up, you are not actually sewing anything.

If the bobbin thread or the needle thread catch and doesn’t have even tension when they are released, it is possible that one or both of the threads break before completing the stitch.

You always want to make sure both your threads are in continual working order as you are sewing. Threads can break or not catch both at the beginning of sewing, or while you are in the middle of something.

Catching the issue right when it happens can save you from continuing to sew for too long if it is not working correctly.

Check These Things When Sewing Machines Do Not Catch the Bobbin Thread:

Your bobbin thread could be malfunctioning for a variety of reasons, and there are some steps that you can take to fix the issue.

Incorrect Needle:

You will want to make sure that your needle is the correct one for your machine and the type of fabric that you are using.

If you are using the correct needle, you will also need to make sure that it is not bent.

A bent needle is a widespread problem and will not work correctly in your machine.

Potential Threading Issues:

If you did not correctly thread your machine, then it is highly likely that it will not function properly.

Make sure you know how to thread your machine. Most machines are very similar, but there can be small differences from machine to machine.

Threading your bobbin incorrectly, or inserting it incorrectly could also be a potential issue.

Before you begin sewing, both your needle thread and your bobbin thread should be on top of the throat plate. The throat plate (sometimes called the needle plate or stitching plate) is the flat metal piece that is below the presser foot on your sewing machine.

If you need more information on how to properly thread your machine, I have included detailed instructions below.

Thread Tension:

One reason that you might be experiencing issues with your thread is due to a tension issue. When you are threading the sewing machine, you want to make sure that everything is at the proper tension level and that nothing is holding on too tightly to the thread.

If one piece of your sewing machine is creating too much tension, the thread will not be able to pass through freely and is more likely to break.

When working with your needle’s thread, changing the tension discs are the best and easiest way to control thread tension for your needle.

This does not just include tension from the needle’s thread. You can also have too much tension on the bobbin’s thread.

How Do I Fix the Bobbin Tension?

Most tension changes are made when working with the top thread, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the tension for the bobbin thread as well.

The bobbin case is where your bobbin thread is getting its tension from. It does so by squeezing a metal plate against your bobbin thread. To adjust the tension, you will need to adjust your tension screw.

The tension screw is the larger screw in the bobbin case. This screw changes the pressure that is applied to the thread when it leaves the bobbin case.

Usually, you do not change the bobbin tension, but if you are working with specialty threads, you might have to.

If you do not feel comfortable constantly changing the bobbin tension for each thread type, you could always have more than one bobbin case that is already adjusted to the kind of thread that you have.

Dirty Machine:

Another potential issue could be dirt and dust collecting inside the shuttle area of your sewing machine. The shuttle area is located under the feed dogs and throat plate in your sewing machine.

If you suspect this to be the case, or if you haven’t cleaned this area in a while, you will want to look into making sure this area is clean from lint, dust, and debris.

To clean your shuttle area, you need to:

  1. Remove the bobbin shuttle and bobbin case from your machine. Make sure you use your machine guidelines on how to do this so that you don’t break anything
  2. Remove all the lint, thread fragments, fabric, debris, dust and anything else from the area
  3. Clean under the bottom of the feed dogs and make sure you get rid of any lint, thread fragments, fabric, debris, and dust from those as well
  4. Reassemble your machine
  5. Rethread your machine

Not only does cleaning this area out help any potential issues with your bobbin thread, but it is also an excellent habit to get into to preserve the life of your sewing machine.

Timing Issues:

Another reason you could be experiencing issues is if your machine’s timing is off.

This can prevent the needle from working correctly because the needle and the hook in the bobbin are not where they need to be at the same time.

How Do I Know if the Timing of the Bobbin is Right?

One way to tell if this is the issue you are having is to check whether or not the hook tip is passing through the loop that is created by the needle.

If the needle and its loop do not line up with the hook, located where you would normally place your bobbin, then the stitch can not be completed.

If you are experiencing timing issues, you might need to take your machine in to get looked at by a professional. Retiming your machine yourself can be difficult or even impossible.

How to Thread the Machine Properly:

Threading a sewing machine properly is the first thing that you need to do to make sure that it works properly.

You will want to make sure that you wind the bobbin first if you do not already have a bobbin prepared in the thread that you need.

Most sewing machines are threaded similarly, but it can vary from machine to machine. The basics of threading any sewing machine are:

  1. Place your thread on top of your machine on your spool pin. You will want your thread to unspool counter-clockwise.
  2. Wrap the thread around the thread guide.
  3. Pull the thread down and loop it around the tension discs.
  4. Hook your thread inside the takeup lever.
  5. Thread the needle.
  6. Place the bobbin in the proper compartment and unwind enough thread to catch.
  7. Twist the dial on the side of your sewing machine so that your needle brings up your bobbin thread.

If you have a hard time with threading your sewing machine, most machines have arrows that show you how to thread your machine step by step.

Machines also should come with instructions regarding the proper way to thread them, which is great if you are working with a machine that you are not familiar with.

Why is my Sewing Machine Needle Hitting the Bobbin Case?

It is not good if your needle hits your bobbin case.

This can cause the tip of the needle to break. The biggest culprit of the needle hitting the bobbin case is if the bobbin case is not placed correctly.

The biggest reason that this could be is if you did not put everything back properly after cleaning your sewing machine.

If this is the case, you will want to make sure that everything is put back together properly.

Another reason this could be happening is that your sewing machine timing is off.

Why is My Thread Bunching Underneath?

If you are experiencing your bottom thread bunching underneath, it is almost certainly a tension issue if your top tension and bottom tension are different.

If your thread is looping underneath, then your top tension is too loose compared to the bobbin tension.

The first step to fix this is to adjust your top tension. If your top tension is already tight, you will want to adjust your bobbin tension.


The main takeaway is that if you have a bobbin issue, your machine will not work properly.

The main bobbin issues can be traced to improper thread tension or a timing issue with your sewing machine.

Make sure you properly identify your bobbin issue so that you take the proper steps to fix it.