Are Sewing Machine Bobbins Universal?

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Have you ever wondered if a sewing machine bobbin is universal? Let me explain what exactly this means. 

Many sewing machines come with a built-in bobbin that is always included when you purchase the machine and will always be appropriate for the type of thread being used. However, not all sewing machines have bobbins that are universal and may require some work to get them to fit properly or even at all for your specific model.

Bobbin is a term that refers to a small metal bar that goes inside the casing of a sewing machine. The bobbin holds the bobbin thread, which travels up through the spindle and needle, so it is necessary for the needle to pass through. The bobbin removes all guesswork when you are deciding what size to buy your brand-new machine as it’s always compatible with any manufacturer.

This is a universal type of bobbin that works well with many sewing machines. The bobbin is made from special plastic material or metal which is compatible with any brand of machine or even parts that you will encounter when looking for a bobbin to attach. The only issue users have had was with round needles in some older models of sewing machines, but this problem has been resolved by using the larger bobbins.

Are Bobbins A Standard Size?

Bobbins come in a range of sizes. The most common are class 15 bobbins, which are universal, and can be used with all sewing machines. Class 15 bobbins are 25mm in size, but they do come in several different sizes: 1/8″, 3/16″, 5/16″, and 7/16″. Some machines only take the smallest size of bobbin, so be sure to check your machine before ordering more than one of the larger sizes of the bobbin.

It is best to buy bobbins that are labeled for your specific type of sewing machine. however, in a pinch, generic metal bobbins can work with some machines, but not all. If the bobbin is too long for the machine, then it can get stuck and cause a headache. So be sure that you are working with the correct bobbins for your machine.

Are Class 15 Bobbins Universal?

No, Class 15 bobbins are not universal and they are not suitable for all machines. These bobbins are used on Singer, Janome, Elna and Pfaff machines. They work best with these brands of machines because they have a unique system to prevent the top thread from unwinding from the bottom thread when you are winding your bobbin.

They can also be used as a backup for other brands of sewing machines that do not come with their own bobbin system. For example, you can use them in an EMBROIDERY machine if there is no specific bobbin sold for it or it does not have a system built into the machine to hold multiple bobbins.

Sewing machines that use class 15bobbins are generally low-tension machines with light fabrics that do not use too much thread. For example, many Embroidery and Sewing Machine dealers will tell you to only use class 15 bobbins with the following materials: lace, chiffon, denim and silk.

Are All Sewing Machine Bobbins Interchangeable?

No. A metal bobbin will not work in an automatic machine, while a plastic bobbin will not work in an industrial machine. Some machines can accept either type, but there are a few differences.

Metal bobbins can be used with industrial sewing machines, but if you use one the tension is set up for a heavier bobbin. You may be able to reduce the tension with the needle down by pulling back from the fabric slightly and pushing through again, or you can use a lighter bobbin that has less tension. If you have a plastic bobbin and try to use it, the tension will change because the bobbin is usually set for a lighter plastic bobbin.

Plastic bobbins will not work in an industrial sewing machine, even if it does have metal bobbins, because of the difference in tension between a metal and plastic bobbin. The metal ones are designed to run on much more tension, so you need to get the right one for your machine, or else you risk damaging your machine.

All sewing machine bobbins are not interchangeable. If you have a Bernina, then 99% of the time your machine can use any Bernina bobbin and it will work great, but you do need the correct bobbins for your machine. These can be purchased from us or from an authorized dealer.

How Many Types Of Bobbins Are There?

There are many different types of sewing machine bobbins available. Most sewing machines come with 3-5 bobbins. Even some Bernina machines or EMBROIDERS only have 2-3 bobbins, so if you are a multi-sewer, be sure to buy extra bobbin packs, just in case. 

You can also find plastic or metal bobbins that may be compatible with your machine. It is best to know the correct bobbin for your machine so you know the correct tension setting when using different thicknesses of thread or materials.

What Is The Difference Between 15 And 15J Bobbins?

15j bobbins are slightly smaller than the original 15 bobbins. This is very important because it makes a perfect fit when you are bobbin winding. If you use a different size bobbin, you will get all sorts of problems, including bent and damaged parts that can easily cost you hundreds of dollars for a new sewing machine.

There are many different brands of sewing machines that use Class 15 bobbins. The most common are Brother, Singer, Pfaff, Janome, and Elna. Other companies use the traditional Class 15 bobbins, but they can be harder to find online.

Are Class 15 And L Bobbins The Same?

No, Class 15 and L (low-tension) are the same bobbins, but there is a slight difference in the tension of the threads. If you have a Bernina sewing machine, it will come with a class 15 bobbin and it will be marked with a small “L” symbol inside. These are designed to work only with that particular machine.

The other use for this bobbin is in your Singer or Pfaff machine. These two companies made the same machines, so they both came out with the low tension class 15 bobbin. You can find these bobbins at most sewing machine dealers and many different sources online.

What Is A Plastic Bobbin?

A plastic bobbin is made out of plastic material instead of metal. It is smaller than a metal bobbin and is usually used with sewing machines that have multiple bobbins as part of their internal system. They can also be used with heavy duty materials and thick threads because they have a stronger compression spring inside.

Are Sewing Machine Bobbin Cases Universal?

No, the bobbin cases are not universal and they are not interchangeable between brands. In fact, you will find that some brands of sewing machines have unique bobbin cases to perfectly fit the size of their bobbins.

Can You Use A Sewing Machine Without The Bottom Bobbin?

No, you cannot use a sewing machine without the bottom bobbin. The top thread has to be connected with the bottom thread by the bobbin. If you do not have a bobbin, then the top thread would just unwind and you will get very poor stitching-no stitches at all.

Final Thoughts

The best way to determine what bobbin works with what machine is to know the brand and model of your sewing machine, then look at the list of compatible bobbins for this make and model on the manufacturer’s website or in your user manual.


  1. MISSOURI STAR – Are all plastic Class 15 bobbins created equal?
  2. Threadmagazine – Understand Bobbin Types
  3. Quora – How important is it to only use the exact same style of bobbin (plastic vs metal) that came with your sewing machine?
  4. APQS – Quilting the Quilt: Big bobbin or little bobbin?



I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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