What to do when your bobbin runs out in the middle of quilting - Tutorial

How many times have you been in the middle of quilting your quilt sammich (sandwich) and you're not paying attention and all of a sudden you realize you've been sewing for five minutes with no thread in your bobbin?  I'm a zen sewist - I get lost in the sound and hum of my machine and rarely pay attention to the fullness of my bobbin.  So when I was quilting today (my least favorite part of quilting is quilting.  Funny, huh?) I of course ran into this issue - right in the middle of one of my rows. 

So, I've developed a way to fix this.  I don't know if this is how other quilters or sewists do this or if there's a better technique - all I know if this is how I do it and it seems to work.

The idea is that you have to tie off the original stitching so that it doesn't unravel.  Not a good idea to just cut off the thread and then start sewing again.  Details, details!

This is the front of the quilt.  You can see that the needle thread is sticking out of the fabric.

 This is the back of the quilt.  The bobbin thread is sticking out.

Undo about 5-8 stitches from the bobbin side,  since this will most likely be the shorter of the two threads, enough to have enough length to grab and be able to tie it off with ease. I use the eye-end of a needle to do this.

Pull out bobbin stitches

We want this fix to be on the back of the quilt.  So, take the thread from the front of the quilt and thread it thru a hand needle.  Bring the thread to the back, entering the fabric as close to the last stitch as possible while paying attention to where the needle is coming out thru the back.  If the front thread is super short, put the needle into the fabric and then thread it thru the eye and then pull it thru to the back.

Now both threads are to the back of the quilt.

Tie the threads into a double knot.  Don't pull too hard or the thread may break or cause a pucker in the fabric.

Cut off excess thread as close to knot without compromising it.

Begin sewing where the other stitching left off.  Do either a locking stitch or a few forward anf then reverse stitches to lock new stitching in place.

Can you see the fix? 

May all your bobbins be full.  And if they aren't, use this fix.


  1. I will use this many times .... Thanks for sharing such a great tip!

  2. Thanks for the tutorial..trying to learn as fast as I can

  3. Very nice! You are much less lazy then me. I always start a new bit of sewing and just stitch in place over the last few stitches to tack them... this is much cleaner! ::sigh:: I suppose I should take up this method. ^^ You can't see the disruption at all. Well done.

    Wondering if after you've tied (a single instead of a double) knot you could rethread both, and pull the knot through the backing of the fabric and cut the loose threads at the front thereby hiding the knot entirely in the middle of the sandwich.

  4. I'm pretty lazy - I try to get away with all kinds of stuff when I quilt. But for this kind of stuff - I hate the idea of an entire row of quilting coming loose. And the knot in the middle of the sammich - great idea. Will try that!

  5. I love 'may all your bobbins be full..'!! Too cute, Andie!! I'm sort of clueless about machine quilting. Thanks for taking the time to walk us through the process.

    Can't wait to hear what you think of the needlecase tute.
    All my best,

  6. I have needed this little factoid for quite some time now...I've been sewing over the top of the last few stitches which are NOT very neat looking. Thanks SEW much
    Gmama Jane
    Come by for a visit

  7. This tutorial just saved my day! Thanks!!

  8. You have taught me a very important lesson/technique! I have always just started where the stitches ended, back stitched and continued on; which does look awful...but I just had never even considered there would be a better way. Actually, your way is SUPER! Thanks so much. Have a great day!

  9. Bring the thread to the back, entering the fabric as close to the last stitch as possible while paying attention to where the needle is coming out thru the back. maquinas de coser


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