Can You Use Bobbin Thread as Top Thread? | Expert Advice

Are you tired of unraveling the mystery behind sewing threads? Let’s unravel one today: Can you use bobbin thread as top thread? It’s a question that’s been on the minds of many sewing enthusiasts, and rightly so. Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or just starting to explore the world of sewing, understanding the dynamics of threads is crucial. Imagine the convenience if you could interchange bobbin and top threads seamlessly.

So, let’s delve into this intriguing inquiry, exploring not just the technicalities but also the practical implications for your crafting endeavors. Let’s stitch together the answers you’ve been searching for.

Salient Points

  • Using bobbin thread as top thread is not recommended due to differences in strength and purpose.
  • Bobbin thread is finer and less strong compared to top thread, designed for stabilizing stitches underneath fabric.
  • Using bobbin thread as top thread can lead to weaker seams and potential breakage, compromising stitch quality.
  • Opting for quality top thread suited for your project ensures better results and longevity in sewing projects.

What is Bobbin Thread?

Bobbin thread is a crucial component in sewing machines, playing a key role in forming stitches. Placed on a bobbin, this thread is wound underneath the fabric, interlocking with the needle thread to create seams.

Unlike the needle thread, which is more visible on the surface of the fabric, the bobbin thread typically remains hidden within the layers of the material. It’s usually finer and smoother than the needle thread, ensuring even and secure stitching. The choice of bobbin thread depends on factors like the fabric type, stitch density, and sewing machine specifications.

For instance, polyester or nylon threads are commonly used for general sewing, while cotton or silk threads might be preferred for quilting or embroidery projects, offering strength and durability to the finished product. The tension of the bobbin thread must be properly adjusted to achieve balanced stitches and prevent thread breakage or bunching. By understanding the role and selection of bobbin thread, sewers can enhance the quality and professional appearance of their handiwork.

Do You Need Upper and Lower Thread to Sew?

When it comes to sewing, having both upper and lower thread is essential for most sewing machines to function properly. The upper thread is the thread that comes from the spool and passes through the needle, while the lower thread is wound onto the bobbin, which sits underneath the needle plate. These two threads work together to create stitches that hold the fabric together.

The reason for needing both upper and lower thread is that they form a lockstitch when they interlock in the middle of the fabric. This interlocking of threads creates a strong and secure seam that prevents the fabric from unraveling. Without both threads, the sewing machine wouldn’t be able to form proper stitches, resulting in loose threads or no stitching at all.

To illustrate, imagine trying to sew with only the upper thread. The needle would puncture the fabric, but there would be nothing to catch and secure the thread underneath, leading to loose loops of thread on the underside of the fabric. Similarly, if you only had the lower thread, there would be nothing to form stitches on the top side of the fabric.

In summary, both upper and lower thread are necessary for sewing because they work together to form lockstitches that hold the fabric together securely. Without either thread, the sewing machine wouldn’t be able to create proper stitches, resulting in an ineffective sewing process.

Difference between Bobbin Thread and Top Thread

When it comes to sewing, understanding the difference between bobbin thread and top thread is crucial for achieving good results. Both threads play distinct roles in the stitching process.

AspectBobbin ThreadTop Thread
PlacementWound on the bobbinWound on the spool
FunctionProvides stitches from the bottomForms stitches on the top
TensionGenerally set lowerTension is adjustable
ThicknessUsually finerVaries depending on the project
VisibilityLess visible on the fabricVisible on the fabric
UsageSupports the stitchesDefines the stitch appearance

Bobbin thread is typically finer and less visible than the top thread. It’s wound onto a bobbin and placed underneath the fabric. Since it’s hidden, it’s often used to provide support to the stitches and ensure they hold together well. The tension for bobbin thread is usually set lower, and it’s essential for maintaining balanced tension with the top thread.

Top thread, on the other hand, is wound onto a spool and runs through the needle. It’s the thread that’s visible on the fabric surface, defining the appearance of the stitches. Top thread tension is adjustable, allowing for customization depending on the fabric and stitching technique.

Understanding the difference between these two threads is essential for achieving high-quality stitching results in sewing projects.

Thread Compatibility Unveiled | Can You Use Bobbin Thread as Top Thread

Can You Use Bobbin Thread as Top Thread?

When it comes to sewing, the top thread and bobbin thread play crucial roles in creating strong and consistent stitches. While it may seem convenient to use bobbin thread as top thread or vice versa, it’s not recommended due to their different properties and purposes.

Bobbin thread is typically finer and less strong than top thread. It’s designed to be used in the bobbin to create the underside of stitches, providing stability to the stitch formation. Top thread, on the other hand, needs to be strong enough to withstand tension and visible on the fabric’s surface.

Using bobbin thread as top thread can lead to weaker seams and potential breakage, especially in high-stress areas. Additionally, bobbin thread may not be suitable for the type of fabric being sewn, resulting in poor stitch quality or puckering.

While there might be situations where using bobbin thread as top thread seems like a quick fix, it’s best to stick to using each thread for its intended purpose. Investing in quality top thread suited for your project ensures better results and longevity in your sewing endeavors.

Can You Use Bobbin Thread as Top Thread

Is the Bobbin Thread Supposed to Show on Top?

In ideal circumstances, bobbin thread should not show on top. This is because the bobbin thread is meant to be unseen, providing structural integrity to stitches without being visible on the finished piece.

When bobbin thread appears on the top side, it indicates a tension issue. This could be due to incorrect threading, improper bobbin placement, tension imbalance between the top and bobbin threads, or even dirty or damaged machine parts. To resolve this, check the threading of both the top and bobbin threads, ensure proper bobbin insertion, and adjust tension settings if necessary.

If problems persist, consult the sewing machine manual for troubleshooting tips or seek professional assistance. For example, if you’re sewing a seam and notice the bobbin thread peeking through, it’s an indication that adjustments are needed to ensure a clean and professional finish.

Potential Issues with Using Bobbin Thread as Top Thread

While bobbin thread is primarily designed for the bottom of a sewing machine, some may consider using it as top thread due to its fine nature. However, this practice can lead to several issues:

  1. Thread Strength: Bobbin thread is usually finer and weaker compared to top thread. It might not withstand the tension and stress of being used as the top thread, resulting in breakage during sewing.
  2. Visible Stitches: Bobbin thread may not provide the desired appearance when used as top thread. It’s typically lighter in color and weight, which can cause stitches to be less visible or inconsistent.
  3. Tension Problems: Sewing machines are calibrated for specific thread weights and types. Using bobbin thread as top thread can disrupt the tension settings, leading to uneven stitches or bunching.
  4. Durability: Bobbin thread lacks the durability needed for top stitching applications. It may not hold up well to wear and tear, especially in heavy-duty or high-stress sewing projects.
  5. Fabric Compatibility: Different fabrics require specific thread types and weights for optimal results. Bobbin thread may not be suitable for all fabric types, potentially causing issues like puckering or poor seam quality.
  6. Machine Maintenance: Using bobbin thread as top thread can increase the likelihood of machine jams or malfunctions. The fine nature of bobbin thread may lead to thread snags or tangles within the machine mechanism.

Pros and Cons of Using Bobbin Thread as Top Thread


  • Can create a delicate and subtle stitch appearance.
  • Useful for lightweight fabrics or intricate projects.


  • Increased risk of thread breakage.
  • Potential tension issues and inconsistent stitches.
  • Not suitable for heavy-duty sewing or durable seams.
  • May cause machine jams and maintenance issues.
  • Limited compatibility with different fabric types.

Tips for Using Bobbin Thread as Top Thread

Using bobbin thread as top thread can be a helpful solution in certain situations, such as when you want to minimize thread visibility or reduce bulk in your stitches. Here are some tips to make the most out of using bobbin thread on the top side of your sewing project:

  1. Choose the Right Bobbin Thread: Select a bobbin thread that is compatible with your fabric and sewing machine. Bobbin threads are typically thinner and lighter weight compared to regular sewing threads.
  2. Adjust Tension Settings: Since bobbin thread is thinner, you may need to adjust the tension settings on your sewing machine. Experiment with lower tension settings to prevent the bobbin thread from pulling through to the top side of your fabric.
  3. Use a Suitable Needle: Opt for a needle appropriate for the fabric you are sewing. A fine needle can help prevent snagging or breaking of the bobbin thread.
  4. Test on Scrap Fabric: Before starting your actual project, test the bobbin thread on a piece of scrap fabric to ensure the tension and stitch quality are satisfactory.
  5. Consider Stitch Length: Adjust the stitch length according to your project and fabric. A shorter stitch length may be necessary to secure the bobbin thread properly.
  6. Thread the Machine Correctly: Make sure to thread the bobbin thread correctly through the machine and bobbin case to avoid any snags or tangles during sewing.
  7. Check Bobbin Tension: Ensure that the bobbin tension is properly adjusted. Too tight bobbin tension can cause the bobbin thread to pull through to the top side, while too loose tension may result in loose stitches.
  8. Use for Decorative Stitches: Bobbin thread can be ideal for decorative stitches where you want the top thread to be less visible, such as in quilting or embroidery.
  9. Monitor Thread Usage: Keep an eye on the amount of bobbin thread remaining to avoid running out in the middle of a seam. It’s best to refill the bobbin before it’s completely empty.
  10. Practice Patience: Using bobbin thread as top thread may require some trial and error to achieve the desired results. Be patient and willing to adjust settings as needed for optimal stitching quality.

Troubleshooting Common Sewing Machine Issues with Bobbin

Sewing machines are incredibly useful tools, but like any mechanical device, they can encounter issues. When it comes to sewing machines, problems with the bobbin can be particularly frustrating. Here are some common issues you might encounter:

  1. Thread Tension Troubles: Incorrect bobbin tension can lead to uneven stitching and thread bunching.
  2. Bobbin Thread Not Winding Properly: If the bobbin thread isn’t winding evenly or tightly, it can cause thread jams during sewing.
  3. Bobbin Thread Getting Tangled: Improper bobbin placement or threading can result in the bobbin thread tangling underneath the fabric.
  4. Bobbin Running Out Too Quickly: Inadequate bobbin thread can lead to frequent bobbin changes and interruptions during sewing.
  5. Bobbin Case Issues: Damage to the bobbin case or improper insertion can cause bobbin thread to misalign, affecting stitch quality.
  6. Bobbin Not Inserted Correctly: If the bobbin isn’t inserted properly, the sewing machine may not pick up the bobbin thread correctly, resulting in skipped stitches.
  7. Lint Build-Up: Accumulated lint in the bobbin area can obstruct the bobbin mechanism, leading to thread jams and malfunctions.
  8. Wrong Bobbin Size: Using the incorrect bobbin size can cause feeding issues and affect stitch formation.
  9. Bobbin Case Tension Screw Misadjustment: Incorrect adjustment of the bobbin case tension screw can result in thread looping or breaking.
  10. Bobbin Thread Type Mismatch: Using incompatible bobbin thread with the fabric or the upper thread can cause tension imbalances and stitch irregularities.

These issues can disrupt your sewing projects and cause frustration, but understanding their causes can help you troubleshoot and resolve them effectively.


In conclusion of can you use bobbin thread as top thread, we discussed that while it may be tempting to use bobbin thread as top thread, it is essential to recognize the fundamental differences between these two threads. While they may share similar composition, their intended functions and properties set them apart.

Bobbin thread is designed for the underside of your fabric, providing strength and stability, while top thread creates visible stitches with vibrant colors. Attempting to interchange them may lead to subpar results and potential sewing machine issues. As you navigate the world of sewing, let this guide be your go-to resource, empowering you with the knowledge to choose the right threads for your projects and ensuring your sewing endeavors stitch together seamlessly.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use bobbin thread as top thread in all types of sewing projects?

In sewing techniques, using top thread instead of bobbin thread is recommended. Top thread provides several benefits such as better stitch formation, increased durability, and improved appearance. It is suitable for all types of sewing projects.

Is it necessary to adjust my sewing machine settings when using bobbin thread as top thread?

When using bobbin thread as top thread, it is necessary to adjust sewing machine settings, particularly the thread tension. This ensures proper stitching and prevents issues such as loose or puckered seams.

Can using bobbin thread as top thread affect the durability of my stitches?

Using bobbin thread as top thread can negatively affect the durability of stitches. It is recommended to use appropriate top thread for optimal stitch quality. Alternatives include polyester or cotton threads specifically designed for top stitching.

Are there any specific types of fabrics that are not suitable for using bobbin thread as top thread?

Suitable fabrics for bobbin thread as top thread depend on their weight, weave, and stretch. While lightweight and medium-weight woven fabrics are generally suitable, knits and heavy fabrics may not yield optimal results due to tension issues and potential damage to the fabric.

What are the potential consequences of using bobbin thread as top thread if it is not recommended by the sewing machine manufacturer?

Using bobbin thread as top thread, despite not being recommended by the sewing machine manufacturer, can lead to potential risks such as uneven stitching, tension issues, and thread breakage. It is advisable to explore alternative options suggested by the manufacturer for optimal results.

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