The Dreaded Empty Bobbin Message


Several weeks ago, I wrote about quilting Sunkissed on the Shorte. I promised to tell you what you do when you have to change the bobbin in the middle of the quilt. First, I’ll give you two steps to set yourself up for success.

  1. Wind several bobbins before beginning the quilting, you’ll go through them faster than you think.
  2. After quilting several rows of designs, check the bobbin level when the right edge of the quilt is in the hoop. It’s easiest to check the bobbin when you’re stitching near the right edge.

No matter your best intentions, it might slip your mind and you’ll wind up getting the dreaded empty bobbin message:


The first thing to do is exhale, it’s not the end of the world. Now, take a moment to locate the last stitch.


Carefully reach under the quilt and release the hoop from the pantograph. Before actually moving the hoop, grasp the Monster top frame, quilt and bottom frame all together, firmly holding it by the frame – not the fabric. Slide a flat board such as a clip board or the magnet shield (that comes with your hoop) under the hoop to create a flat, sturdy resting spot for the hooped quilt. Move the frame/quilt to the left to reveal the bobbin case. Remember the quilt is still attached to the ShortE so you can’t just move the hoop to another work area.


Change the bobbin.


Firmly grasp the hooped quilt by the frame and reattach it to the machine. When attaching, push the hoop onto the machine by the attachment, not the frame. The needle should be positioned over the last stitch.


If not, lift the top frame and reposition the fabric so that the needle is over the last stitch. Hold onto the needle thread and drop the needle into the fabric and pull the bobbin thread to the top surface. Pull a 6-7” thread tail. Continue to stitch the design.

The magnetic frames make minute adjustments under the needle a breeze!

Here’s your assignment this week:
I’m sure you’ve come across the empty bobbin message. What do you do to avoid this? Wind several bobbins? Purchase pre-wound? Throw away almost empty bobbins? Or just bear with it? A random comment will be selected to win a pack of Print & Stick Target Paper!
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68 Comments on The Dreaded Empty Bobbin Message

  1. Kristi Dennis
    February 25, 2015 at 5:30 pm (5 years ago)

    I just bear with it and put in a new bobbin. I always try to have several prewound bobbins ready.

  2. Rhonda Kimbrough
    February 25, 2015 at 5:58 pm (5 years ago)

    Wind several bobbins two or three.

  3. Debbie Mullins
    February 25, 2015 at 9:26 pm (5 years ago)

    Just bear with it. Always have more bobbins wound and ready to go.

  4. Lynn Searles
    February 25, 2015 at 9:32 pm (5 years ago)

    Take a deep breathe. Count to 10. Then exchange the empty bobbin for one of several pre-filled bobbins. Once I get everything back up and running, I congratulate myself for a job well done.

  5. Susan
    February 25, 2015 at 9:33 pm (5 years ago)

    I check the bobbin after each hooping. If I think I will not have enough for the next hooping, I put in a new one.

  6. Casie
    February 25, 2015 at 9:52 pm (5 years ago)

    If I get caught, I just bear with it and change the bobbin. To help avoid that, I use pre-wound bobbins and through them away before they’re empty.

  7. Ellen
    February 25, 2015 at 10:09 pm (5 years ago)

    Depending on what I am doing I either use prewound bobbins or wind several bobbins in advance in the color I am using. But I have trouble throwing away an almost empty bobbin. Keep them for hand basting.

  8. Kathy
    February 25, 2015 at 10:09 pm (5 years ago)

    Take a deep breath, refill and go on. Then I remember to peek at the bobbin with each hoop change (for a little while anyway!)

  9. Liz Fergus
    February 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm (5 years ago)

    I have been keeping purchased pre-wound bobbins on hand but I am now thinking that it is not so hard or time consuming to wind my own on my machine if I just take the time to do 2 or 3 at a time whenever I have a few moments. Keeping a stock on hand is easy, and I have purchased “Bobbin” thread for this purpose.

  10. Rita McGuire
    February 25, 2015 at 10:30 pm (5 years ago)

    I use pre-wound bobbins because it’s easy to check my supply before embroidering. In using my embroidering machine I have learned to change a bobbin in the middle of a design and to go back to the last stitch when I ran out of bobbin or the thread broke. It’s so exciting to master your machine!

  11. Belinda Germain
    February 25, 2015 at 11:29 pm (5 years ago)

    I have a six needle and changing bobbins are easy, so I just wait until it is empty and then replace it. Never throw out a bobbin unless it is damaged!

  12. Terri
    February 26, 2015 at 3:59 am (5 years ago)

    I keep watch of the bobbin during color changes and will change out the bobbin if I feel I won’t have enough to finish an embroidery project. I will pre- wind bobbins as I feel necessary, but always start with a full bobbin with most projects.

  13. Barb Grant
    February 26, 2015 at 5:16 am (5 years ago)

    I always wind extra bobbins wound before I start a project and keep an eye out for the low bobbin message. I hate to waste small amounts left on the bobbin of Bottom Line thread. Instead of wasting it I’ll use it for quilt piecing or appliqué.

  14. Rebecca
    February 26, 2015 at 7:26 am (5 years ago)

    Remember when she used to be not come with the Low Boppin warning!

  15. Anne Marie Reilly
    February 26, 2015 at 7:54 am (5 years ago)

    I buy pre wound bobbins. When I get that message, I back the needle up several stitches, then change the bobbin and go on with the design.

  16. Brenda Melahn
    February 26, 2015 at 7:58 am (5 years ago)

    I have tried extra bobbins, but usually when I’m using pre-wounds. I also like to use “low” amount of thread bobbins for my test pieces in embroidery. That way I don’t care if I run out and I’m more apt to have nice full bobbins for my “real” project.

  17. Donna Fecteau
    February 26, 2015 at 9:40 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you!!! i buy prewound bobbins. I save my partial bobbins for trial pieces. and other small projects.

  18. Royce Zook
    February 26, 2015 at 11:30 am (5 years ago)

    Just change out the empty bobbin. What do you do when you have a thread break or a needle break? You just fix it and continue.

  19. Saundra Romanus
    February 26, 2015 at 1:03 pm (5 years ago)

    I bought a box of pre-wound bobbins and I love them, BUT it still happens that a bobbin runs out before you are finished with a design. I’m getting pretty good at changing, but I still have to get my manual out to check on the steps. I tell myself to check the bobbin before I start, but I guess I do not listen to myself!

  20. Becky
    February 26, 2015 at 4:11 pm (5 years ago)

    I find that I can usually stitch till the end of the current color. While changing threads, I also remove the hoop and change the bobbin.

  21. Karen
    February 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm (5 years ago)

    I use pre-wound most of the time. When my bobbin is empty I can change it without removing my hoop.

  22. Susie Mackenberg
    February 26, 2015 at 9:52 pm (5 years ago)

    I use pre-wound bobbins for embroidery. Since they are wound tighter there is more thread on them than I can wind manually and I always start a project with a new bobbin.

  23. Lee
    February 27, 2015 at 4:58 am (5 years ago)

    When I’m embroidering I leave the stitch and needle just slightly into the fabric and lift the hoop. It works, but I’m not convinced top loading bobbins are the best for reloading, when quilting or doing embroidery. I’ve always wondered why manufacturers haven’t put bobbins to the right of the machine? Design flaw?

  24. Christina
    February 27, 2015 at 8:51 am (5 years ago)

    I always purchase prewound bobbins for embroidery and use them again for sewing. I try to change them in between color changes when I’m stitching out at larger piece.

  25. Debe
    February 27, 2015 at 2:44 pm (5 years ago)

    I buy prewounds or wind several in advance, but I still have to change the bobbin on a large project no matter how many bobbins I have ready, lol. I change a bobbin when I get the warning on a large project at a place when it won’t affect the design to stop. Then I use the bobbins with a small amount left on projects that are smaller, then I don’t waste thread

  26. allen king
    February 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm (5 years ago)

    When I get the low bobbin warning I watch to make sure the needle thread is picking up the bobbin thread until the bobbin thread runs out. Then I back up a few stitches, put in a new bobbin, pull the new bobbin thread up to the right side (to tie off later), and continue sewing. I hate having little bits of thread on bobbins so I either use them until they run out or use them for embroidery basting stitches.

  27. Barb M.
    February 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm (5 years ago)

    If the project is large, I wind several bobbins before, if the project needs the same color as my top thread. Otherwise I use prewound white bobbins.

  28. Lynn Pike
    February 27, 2015 at 3:46 pm (5 years ago)

    I usually wind a bobbin as one gets low, so I’m ready to change them quickly.

  29. Doreen
    February 27, 2015 at 5:12 pm (5 years ago)

    I usually continue stitching until it’s just about out. I’m very frugal so even though it’s a pain with only stitching a few stitches and stopping along with the message showing up again I still stitch on. If it’s very important or I’m getting paid I will usually change the bobbin quicker than my usual custom. I also have extra bobbins wound and hope I have another in that color. If not I wind another in the color needed.

  30. Bev C
    February 27, 2015 at 5:18 pm (5 years ago)


    Depends how much embroidering there is to do, though I usually wind enough bobbins for the project I am working on. It saves time this way.

    happy days.

  31. lynda case
    February 27, 2015 at 5:37 pm (5 years ago)

    I also wind many bobbins when I have time so I’m always ready for a quick change.

  32. Cathy Martin
    February 27, 2015 at 10:15 pm (5 years ago)

    I try to always wind extra bobbins when I start. I don’t get too frustrated when I run out as I would rather be embroidering than any other thing except maybe playing with the Grandkids!

  33. Edna Smith
    February 28, 2015 at 12:22 am (5 years ago)

    I try to just bear with it. If I can manage to bear with it in a good manner then afterwards I feel better about myself for handling the situation well; therefore I am in about better mood and can continue with my sewing a much happier person and it will show in my work and persona.

  34. Angela Bradyi
    February 28, 2015 at 9:23 am (5 years ago)

    i usually use prewound and just change if needed.

  35. JudiC
    February 28, 2015 at 9:30 am (5 years ago)

    Since my embroidery machine does not have a bobbin winder I purchase prewound bobbins.

  36. Barbara McKenzie
    February 28, 2015 at 2:05 pm (5 years ago)

    I usually override the low bobbin alarm and keep going – it’s surprising how much thread is actually on the bobbin when it alarms. It’s just as easy to change the bobbin after it actually runs out as to change it when the first alarm goes off, and who knows? It might just continue on to a more convenient place to change!

    • Denise
      March 1, 2015 at 3:11 pm (5 years ago)

      I use this method as well.

  37. Beth R
    February 28, 2015 at 9:54 pm (5 years ago)

    If I am close to the end of a bobbin and don’t think I will have enough thread to finish what I am doing, I remove that bobbin and put in a new one. If it is a bobbin I wound, then I’ll wind another one to be ready for when I run out of bobbin thread next.

    March 1, 2015 at 3:15 am (5 years ago)

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    • Karen W
      March 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm (5 years ago)

      What’s this got to do with empty bobbins on an embroidery/sewing machine?

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  40. Denise
    March 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm (5 years ago)

    I prepare a few extra bobbins to match and check with each color change. I also use purchased prewound, but never throw away any with thread left. Those I save for basting almost anything from drapes to clothing to toys.

  41. Ruth Woodham
    March 1, 2015 at 7:11 pm (5 years ago)

    I do all the above and I add one more. There is a little sign posted on my machine – “CHECK THE BOBBIN THREAD BEFORE YOU START.” If I have a big project, then I know the bobbin will run out. If I have a small one, the thread on the bobbin will probably last.

  42. Vicki B
    March 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm (5 years ago)

    I love pre-wound bobbins. What a time saver.

  43. Sylvia Kerschner
    March 3, 2015 at 11:32 am (5 years ago)

    I keep my bobbins in two different sized, round plastic interlocking containers. In the small container I keep my prewound bobbins and in the larger one I keep empty bobbins. The stacked containers sit next to my embroidery machine, taking up very little space.

  44. Charlotte Ann EllingSon
    March 3, 2015 at 10:16 pm (5 years ago)

    After many years I have learned to wind as many bobbins I think Ill need then one more for good. If I find I have used up my bobbins and need to empty some of the thread I unwind the unwanted THREAD AND SAVE IT. Then when I have saved a bunch of the thread I have collected then I USE IT TO MAKE A NET LIKE

    • Charlotte Ann EllingSon
      March 3, 2015 at 10:28 pm (5 years ago)

      Empty bobbins!!!! well, I usually wind what I Think I will be using the add one more for good luck. When I find I need to free up some bobbins for using on a new project I will empty the bobbons and put the thread in to a zip lock bag along with snipping threads. ends of spools, and sometimes even unravel material, yarns also go in the bag. When there is enough to sandwich between water soluble sheets and I make new material out of it for decorative purposes.

  45. Karen McDonner
    March 4, 2015 at 2:24 pm (5 years ago)

    Empty bobbins are not fun! I try to always keep at least 6 bobbins ready to go simply because I dread the task!

  46. Joan Bland
    March 5, 2015 at 11:04 am (5 years ago)

    I appreciate this message. I have a few stitches left at this point so I make note of it and change into a new bobbin. With the message you are not sewing without a threaded bobbin. Thank goodness for this message. Joan Bland

  47. Karen W
    March 5, 2015 at 12:16 pm (5 years ago)

    I do a combination of pre-wound bobbins (colors, white & black), wind extras before beginning a large projects & just change them as needed, otherwise. I’ve gotten used to changing bobbins & counting thru a design to get to a better stopping point, but I do a lot of designs that are reversible, so I change the bobbin color with each color change on those projects. It’s just not that hard to “park” or remove your frame — just don’t press any buttons while the frame is removed. Getting to know your machine just makes you more confident & less afraid of mishaps. No more dreading the beeps!

  48. Dena
    March 9, 2015 at 5:57 am (5 years ago)

    I keep pushing the ignore button and keep stitching. I will put up more wound bobbins on my next project and try not to sorry so much.

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