Proper thread handling is required to avoid problems while sewing. Any restriction or obstruction to the thread flow will result in, at the very least, inconsistent stitching, and, at the very worst, what I like to call, catastrophic needle failure (a broken needle). Too many times I've had a machine on my bench with the complaint of breaking threads or that the tension was changing while sewing (that's impossible, by the way. Unless you have a Poltergeist turning the tension dial without you noticing) and it turns out to be a spool cap that is too small or too large for the spool of thread being used.

I'm going to break this down into 3 areas of concern; The source, or thread supply such as the spool pin, thread stand or mason jar (that's a good one!) the machine itself and the bobbin.

Let's start with the bobbin. If the bobbin is wound in an erratic, uneven way, it will affect stitch quality. If the thread cannot flow freely from the bobbin because it gets tangled, then the bobbin thread tension will be inconsistent. Tensions must remain constant for tight, even stitching. This is why The Easy Winder is such a handy and useful device. It winds at the correct speed and tension. Every time.

Another concern about bobbins is how they are put into the bobbin case. Everyone has been told that if you don't put the bobbin in so that it turns clockwise (or counterclockwise) that the machine will jam up, or that the stitches will loop on the bottom, or that you'll void your warranty (?!?). "If I don't put the bobbin in correctly, when sewing the triple entredeux stitch during a full moon, the bobbin thread makes a loop on the bottom every 6th stitch!" Of course! We all know that during a full moon, the extra gravitational tug on the atomic structure of the thread will wreck havoc on stitch quality. Especially if the bobbin isn't installed correctly. Wink

As a sewing machine mechanic I will tell you that it makes no difference how the bobbin is placed into the bobbin case. If you don't believe me, try your own little test. Sew a few test patterns with the bobbin installed 'correctly'. Then turn the bobbin over, careful not to tangle or pinch the thread (that would obviously taint the test), and sew the same patterns again. See any difference? I don't, and I never have. I've heard all of the reasons why it should matter, such as thread backlash, angle of attack, the twist of the thread...I've just never been able to confirm this concern. Of course, there is nothing wrong with continuing to install the bobbin in the 'correct' way. I'm just saying that either way, clockwise or counterclockwise, will not make any difference. 

Now, if you have a machine model that uses bobbins that can only be installed one way, I do not recommend breaking out that hammer that came with the accessory kit and using it at this time. Leave the hammering to us mechanics. We're trained professionals.

As far as the sewing machine itself is concerned, thread handling is a matter of design. If a thread guide is missing or damaged, thread handling problems can occur. A smooth, unobstructed thread path from the spool to the needle is required for proper stitch formation. Most problems occur right at the spool itself. Specifically, how the spool is used. Most sewing machines utilize a horizontal spool pin requiring some sort of spool cap to hold the spool in place. The problem arises when using the wrong size spool cap. The cap does two things. It holds the spool in place and provides the thread a smooth edged surface to ride on. That means that the spool cap must be larger then the spool itself. If the cap is smaller then the plastic spool, the thread can get snagged on the edge of the spool. Some spools have a very rough edge. Thread manufacturers have improved the design of spools over the years, but you should still use the correct size spool cap. Using a cap that is too large for the spool can also create problems. The thread would have to spool off at a steep angle and that would create additional drag on the thread.

The general rule of thumb for spool caps is: Use the smallest cap possible, as long as it is larger then the plastic spool itself.

If you are using anything other then a "normal" spool of thread, then you need to use an external thread stand, such as The Universal Thread Holder. Large cone type thread just doesn't lend itself to being used on a sewing machine's spool pin. Although I did have a Customer once who insisted that a 3000 yard cone of Maxi~Lock thread worked just fine on her sewing machine's vertical spool pin. Of course she was bringing me her machine for a little service because the stitch quality was all over the map! As Homer would say: Duh!

The idea is to supply the thread to your sewing machine with as little resistance as possible. Having the thread spool or cone held stationary while the thread is spooling off of the end is the best way to achieve this. However, there are times when allowing the spool to turn to release the thread will result in better, er, results. Especially metallic thread. And there are thread companies who state that if the thread has been wound in a linear fashion, then it should be unwound in the same manner. In other words, the spool should be allowed to rotate while releasing the thread to achieve the best results. The Universal Thread Holder is the only external thread stand that will allow you to do this. With the new additional brass eyelet exit holes, you now have multiple threading options for all thread types.

Sew, as you can see, The Easy Winder and The Universal Thread Holder both belong in your arsenal of sewing notions. But only if you want to achieve the best results.

Happy Sewing,


RJS Designs Inc.   Saint Petersburg, Florida USA