May Your Bobbins be Smooth

Sharon sent me a message via the Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures Facebook Page asking about the bobbin washer that she spied in the bobbin case in my latest video, Straight Stitch Plate for Free Motion Stitching. I should have mentioned it in the video and I am glad she asked so I could share with the rest of you.

Genie Magic Bobbin washer

I bought the Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washers a few years ago when I first started free motion quilting. They're a 12 pack of little silicone discs that just sit in your bobbin case and help the bobbin spin smoothly, especially when changing the direction of stitching at high speeds. [Edited 2015] I used these for a while, but stopped after learning more about how drop in bobbin machines work. I stopped using them and haven't missed them at all. They may or may not help. They may help while you're you're learning and your hands aren't as smooth. If they cause the bobbing to sit too high in the bobbin case, they can cause the top thread to get caught on the bobbin.

The second tip for bobbin issues is to make sure you are using quality bobbins. My local Janome dealer sells generic bobbins unless you specifically ask for Janome bobbins. I make a point of buying the red Janome Cherry Blossom Bobbins when I can find them for my Janome and make sure I use them when free motioning. This helps me identify quilting thread from sewing thread too.

generic bobbin, Janome bobbin, Janome Cherry Blossom bobbin
From left to right; generic bobbin, Janome bobbin, Janome Cherry Blossom bobbin.

There are cheaper bobbins you can use, but I find that some have rough edges from when the plastic is molded into the bobbin shape. Plus, there seems to be a different type of plastic used for the Janome bobbins than the generic bobbins. It seems smoother and a teensy tiny bit softer. Janome bobbins will have a J on the shaft of the bobbin. This is covered by thread if already wound, so another identifier is a U shaped indention around one of the holes for the thread tail.

(Gee, I need a manicure!)

I am speaking here to Janome owners, because that is what I know, but I am sure that this could apply to other models and I know that generic bobbins are easy to come by. If you are having bobbin snarls, it might be worth finding better bobbins for your machine and/or checking to make sure the bobbin isn't damaged in some way.

On a personal note, my step daughter just made me a grandmother! So we'll be leaving town soon to visit her and the blog may go a bit quiet.


  1. Congratulations on becoming a grandmother!
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