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Why Bobbin Thread Is Showing On The Top Of Your Embroidery Design

 This article is brought to you by Lizzsews.

Almost all of us have been there! Having bobbin thread show through on the top of your embroidery project is so annoying, especially when you don't know why! 

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself and how to fix them so you can prevent your bobbin thread from showing on top!

Have you cleaned the race?

The other day, my bobbin thread was showing on top, before I adjusted my tension (I always suggest to do whatever you can to fix the problem before adjusting tension)

Recommended read: How To Clean The Race On An Embroidery Machine

I tried this neat trick, and surprisingly enough, it worked!

Here’s what you do:

Take a business card and use it to get the lint out from where the bobbin thread goes. You don’t want to use anything that with scratch your bobbin case. 

Here’s a picture to show you how:

Is your bobbin upside down?

Make sure that you haven’t put your bobbin in upside down. Take the bobbin out and put it back in following the diagram on your machine. 

Recommended read: How To Wind And Install The Bobbin On Your Sewing Machine

Is your bobbin threaded correctly?

Make sure that your bobbin is going through the little thread guides in the shuttle race. Also, try taking the bobbin out and getting any loose threads or lint out from in the shuttle race.

Are you using pre-wound bobbins or winding your own?

If you are using pre-wound bobbins, sometimes they have too much thread on them, so try taking off a yard or two of thread before you use the bobbin. 

If you are winding your own bobbins, they might not be wound tight enough, or they might be too loose. The best way to prevent that is to purchase pre-wound bobbins!

Recommended read: Should you use prewound bobbins for machine embroidery

Are you using the right bobbin weight?

Your machine will either need 60wt or 90wt bobbin thread. You want to make sure that you have the correct weight for your machine. 

For example, the brother se600 uses 60wt bobbin thread. 

Recommended read: Brother se600 review, opinions and pros and cons

Are you using the right bobbin size?

Make sure that you are using the correct bobbin size. When you are going to purchase bobbins, most of the time in the description of the product it will tell you which machines it’s compatible with. You can also check your manual to see the size bobbins you need. 

Is your upper thread in all the thread guides?

Try re-threading your upper thread. You want to make sure that while you are threading, the embroidery foot is up so the tension is correct. Make sure that the thread is going through every thread guide. 

Recommended read: How to thread your sewing machine

Has the upper thread hit an obstacle?

Check that the upper thread has a clear path with no obstacles. If you are using a thread stand or a cup behind your machine, make sure that the thread is not caught in the handwheel. 

Is the upper thread tangled?

If the thread is tangled, unthread it and cut off the part that is tangled. Once you are sure it is not tangled anywhere else, rethread the machine. 

Are you using a thread stand?

Using a thread stand or putting a cup behind your machine is huge. It gives the thread more time before it has to go through the first thread guide and helps solve so many problems. 

In this photo, you can see that I am using a yellow cup to hold my thread.

Recommended read: Why You Should Use A Thread Stand When Machine Embroidering

Do you have a damaged needle?

Is your needle bent? Sometimes it may be hard to tell, usually, you want to replace the needle after every eight hours of stitching. 

Recommended read: When should I change the needle for machine embroidery

Are you using the right needle for the project?

Are you embroidering heavier fabrics? Like denim or leather? If so, you’ll want to use a heavier needle size like 90/14. If you’re just embroidering mid-weight fabrics you’ll want to use 75/11

Are you using sewing needles?

Make sure that you are using specifically embroidery needles and not sewing needles. 

Are you using a stabilizer?

Make sure that you are using a stabilizer, and make sure you are using the right stabilizer!

Recommended read: Guide to the three main machine embroidery stabilizers

Are you using the correct embroidery foot?

Make sure that you have the correct embroidery foot in. If you have a 2 in 1 sewing and embroidery machine, make sure you’re not using a sewing foot!

Keep in mind that usually when something is not looking right on the top side of the embroidery, something is most likely going wrong underneath. Most likely the bobbin. 

What's your tension set to?

VERY LAST STEP! I recommend not changing your tension unless you have to. If you have changed your tension recently, try going back to the default tension for your machine.

Recommended read: How to understand changing the tension on your embroidery machine

If none of these work for you, it might be time for you to get your machine serviced. 

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think! And don't forget to subscribe to get notified for my next blog post.

Are you still having problems? Recommended read: Machine embroidery troubleshooting fixes guide


  1. HAppy that I have found your blog. I have tried machine embroidery so many times. But the bobbin problem comes everyday. I will go through all your posts and try to succeed in machine embroidery.

    1. Thank you so much! Good luck with your machine embroidery journey! Let me know if there are any articles that you would enjoy being added to this blog!


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