Bobbin Blitz

Today, some tidbits about bobbins, or a “Bobbin Blitz.”

il fullxfull.210147859 Bobbin Blitz

Tidbit #1: In a conversation with quilt friends recently, I discovered that not everyone approaches rewinding bobbins in just the same way. Of the 10 quilters there, about half said they rewind bobbins one at a time, whenever they run out of bobbin thread. The other half said they wind a lot of bobbins at once.

I always used to wind one bobbin at a time and rarely had any extras filled. But since that conversation I have started to wind (all at once) six or eight bobbins with neutral thread, and I like this system a lot better. It just feels more efficient.

bobbins4 Bobbin Blitz

Tidbit #2: I recently bought a vintage Bernina Record 830 on Craigslist. I was looking at the bobbins and I noticed I could see more than one color of thread on some of them. When I really started looking, almost all of the bobbins had been “overwound.”

bobbins11 Bobbin Blitz

In other words, you need a bobbin with a particular color of thread, but you don’t have an empty bobbin to wind. So you wind the color you need on top of a partially-filled bobbin you have lying around. Now you have a bobbin that’s “overwound.”

This was a new concept to me, so I was curious to see what was beneath the second layer of thread that I found. I kept unwinding…and kept unwinding…until, to my astonishment, I’d unwound all 10 layers of thread on this single bobbin!

bobbins21 Bobbin Blitz

You can see in the photo that they were all different colors and weights—there was even a section of pearl cotton! All of the 830′s bobbins had several layers of thread. I’m thinking that it’s asking for machine hiccups to use an overwound bobbin, especially if we’re talking about multiple layers of different threads.

Tidbit #3: Did you know you can buy extra bobbins for your machine? It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and it’s a time saver. Go ahead: get some extra bobbins! Do it!

Tidbit #4: There are cute little storage dealies for your bobbins. Check with your sewing machine dealer to see what’s available to fit your bobbins or try a generic version like these:

481924709 o Bobbin Blitz

 

 

 

 Bobbin Blitz

bobbinsaverblue Bobbin Blitz

Tidbit #4: Have you ever caught the thread-end from a bobbin in the vacuum cleaner? I seem to do this regularly and I’m always amused by the happy little dance the bobbin does as the vacuum sucks up all of the thread. Unfortunately it means I have wasted that thread!

il fullxfull.132205088 Bobbin Blitz

Tidbit#5: If you have extra bobbins, you can always make them into earrings!

Now I’m dying to know: do you overwind your bobbins, and do they cause your machine to hiccup?

About Diane Harris

I'm Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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282 Responses to Bobbin Blitz

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  3. Sharon W says:

    I bought a Singer 15 treadle and one of the bobbins had 17 different colors of thread on 1 bobbin. I was amazed!

  4. Angela Brady says:

    I have been sewing for 50+ years and I can, possibly, explain the multicolor bobbins. I only sewed clothing or home decor until the last ten years. I have a Bernina 1130 and about 20 bobbins and I always added thread on top if there was a good amount of thread left. No waste. I never had a problem. Back then you matched your garment as closely as possible and now we uses neutral all of the time. Mending also required a little bit of thread of a matched color. I now have a Bernina 730 with embroidery unit and BSR. I use prewound for embroidery and I have to say that the bobbins for the newer machine are not cheap. I also use the round rubber bobbin savers keeping quilting, embroidery and regular thread in a different color .

  5. ELIZABETH CROSS says:

    My machine stops automatically when the bobbin is wound so no overwinding. I always wind at least 2 bobbins with the colour I’m using and always have 2 of white and grey always a black and at Christmas 1 red and 1 gree full , and usualy 1 blue-my favorite colour I don’t always change the bobbin to match the top, except when garment sewing.

  6. ELIZABETH CROSS says:

    I always wind at least 2 bobbins of the colour I’m useing which is mainly white, or beige. I always have one in black and usually red and green at Christmas , then blue and what evver colour I’m working with on top. My machine stops when the bobbin is full, so no overwinding but I might stop short if my spool is running low.

  7. Betty says:

    60 years ago when I learned to sew it was common to add thread to a partial bobbin, but with the expensive machine that I use today I no longer employ that practice. I have a little bobbin winder (Sidewinder, maybe ?) it is such a simple task to wind YLI Bobbin thread onto the million or so bobbins I have, and fun too. So I guess I fall into the multiple bobbin winding group.

  8. Patty in Montana says:

    No I have never put more than one thread on a bobbin and I do wind at least 5 full bobbins to sew a project. As for bobbin keepers, I really do like the little pony tail wraps, now called Bobbin Bikinis. They are perfect as long as they don’t get stretched out. As far as the bobbin carousel thing with the layers to hold bobbins, I just don’t like that thing at all, it tips over, it is hard to get the bobbins in and out and, well, it is just a nuisance, a complete waste of money.

  9. Robin says:

    I have overwound bobbins since I was young. I was actually taught to do it by my mom and grandma. I do it less these days, with working on quilts I usually run out of thread. So, now I wind a few at a time, but not usually more than 2 or 3.

  10. Susan Ioanou-Silver says:

    I have never overwound a bobbin in my life but I came late to sewing…I probably have about 50 bobbins or so….have three full bobbin rings all the time. I wind several bobbins at a time so I have plenty for the current project and my neutrals always get used up fast…..I have bobbins in all my neutral colors and as I run out I run as many empty bobbins that are available at that time….usually a minimum of five; sometimes more depending on the projects!

  11. Anita Daggett says:

    I buy extra bobbins. It seems that I bought a lot of bobbins for my old machine because I gave about 32 to my daughter, as they would fit her machine and then traded in 40 to the dealer – they give one new bobbin for two old bobbins, as some of the machines they sell still use the old ones. There are still a few of them in the sewing room so DD will get those.

  12. Lori Nelson says:

    I used to overwind when I thought I could not afford to waste thread…but now I never do. All of my family members know what kind of bobbins I use and where to get them so they can gift me with them any time! I just got 10 for mother’s day. They are quite expensive so this is a good way for me to get them!

  13. Julieann says:

    Years ago my Mom and I overwound bobbins. I don’t anymore, and I do wind several in a neutral color at a time. What I’d be worried about more would be using the correct size and/or style of bobbin in the machine. But that is another topic.

  14. pat d. says:

    I overwind all the time. Of course the next thread I need is always under another one! Some day I’ll buy more.

  15. pat d. says:

    I am guilty of overwinding. Then the thread I need is always the bottom one. Too frugal to buy a lot!

  16. Janet Stiles says:

    Overwinding seems to be asking for trouble. I unwind and toss thread from almost empty bobbins rather than deal with a mess. Of course, I first use those almost empty bobbins on scrap quilts. At the beginning of a project, I often wind several bobbins (unless it’s a small project). I use the foamy toe separaters used for pedicures to store bobbins when I have to take them with me. For home my machine came with a tool/foot/bobbin storage unit.

  17. Carole says:

    No overwinding for me! I just find a bobbin with the least amount of thread and pull it off. I have a lot of bobbins but they are always full it seems!

  18. Carole says:

    No over winding for me! I have a pile of bobbins but they are always full of one color or another. If I can’t find an empty one, I just pick the one with the least amount of thread on it and pull it off. Yes I can waste some thread but it is usually not much.

  19. Rina Mason says:

    I’ve never overwound bobbins but have almost 50 of them so I usually have at least 10 wound with the basic cream thread.

  20. Nancy B from Many LA says:

    I don’t overwind, never heard of it!

  21. Karen Kugelman says:

    I wind several bobbins in the color I am working with. I bought the sidewinder and keep that handy if I have to wind another bobbin. I have never put more than one color on a bobbin. I have about 20 extra bobbins in a container. Since I have several very threads that are close in color I have a thread hold and place the bobbin next to or under the threat so I know which ones are which.

  22. Victoria Webster says:

    I use prewound bobbins and I have a bunch of different colors. Check out Superior threads for good deals.

  23. I don’t, never have and have been sewing for about 58 years! I load my bobbins for what I am doing and when I realize all my bobbins are full, I start/finish a scrappy quilt and run all the bobbins empty. When I run out of bobbins, the scrappy quilt is put on hold unless I am very close to being done. Same goes for my threads that are not custom. I use the spools up on those scrappies too. My last quilt, I finished off 12 bobbins and 8 spools.

  24. LindaBee says:

    I wind 3 bobbins at a time. I always use neutral thread. When the 3 bobbins are empty, I clean and oil my machine.

  25. Sandy A in St. Louis says:

    No I don’t overwind my bobbins. I had never heard of this until recently. I always bought extra bobbins! I can see where it would cause problems, especially with more than one different weight of thread on the bobbin. Thanks for the information!

  26. Jennifer Stevens says:

    I only do if I have to… I notice in my drop in bobbins that sometimes the tail of the under thread comes out and causes a tangle… I have lots of bobbins though and reserve about 6 or more of them only to white or neutral thread and the rest for other colors… I also do not fill my bobbin completely full if I know I will only need that certain color for a little bit of sewing, that helps with having too much thread left over on the bobbin. For the record as well… I love the Bobbin Saver to store my bobbins in!!! Greastest invention ever :)

  27. Anne Wiens says:

    I’m in the “wind ‘em as you need ‘em” camp, since my machine lets you refill a bobbin without unthreading and rethreading the machine. If I’m preparing to teach a class, I do try to remember to put in a full bobbin.

    It used to bug me no end when I worked at my LQS, and put what I thought was a full bobbin into Old Paint (my name for our “work horse” machine) only to discover that I only had a few yards of the color I needed because a co-worker had overwound.

    I don’t keep a lot of half-empty bobbins and spools at home. I use them up when I’m making my scrap quilts!

  28. Laura Herl says:

    I don’t over wind my bobbins but I do wind up 3-4 of them at a time in same color. I hate to have to re-thread my machine each time the bobbin runs out. I did also learn that not all bobbins fit my machine. Plastic and metal have a big difference in the way they appear in the tension.

  29. Mary P says:

    I have never over wound bobbins. I do pre-wind extra bobbins of basic colors. I love the flat gray bobbin box you showed, the center is spongey so the bobbins don’t fall out, even if you drop it. When buying bobbins be careful, some machines are very picky on the bobbin, some you can use generic.

  30. Anne Wiens says:

    When I purchased my machine, I bought a couple of packages of extra bobbins.

    I used to wind a couple of bobbins when starting a project, but since this machine lets you fill a bobbin without unthreading and rethreading the machine, I don’t worry about it now.

    If I am preparing to teach a class, I try to always have an extra filled bobbin in the accessory tray.

    When I worked at my LQS it used to really bug me when I put what I thought was a full bobbin into Old Paint (that’s what I called our “workhorse” machine) only to find out it had just a few yards of the color I needed overwound around another color. I’m gritting my teeth just thinking about it!

    Finally, I don’t have a lot of partial bobbins and spools of thread lying around. I use them up when I make scrap quilts!

  31. Laurel Hart says:

    I have many over wound bobbins, several bobbin boxes, full. a small glass canister of empty bobbins my machines don’t use, bobbins on a magnet, bobbins in a drawer, and probably just as much thread on spools, including old fashioned spools wooden spools that were shaped with a bulge in the middle. Do ya think it’s time to sort out???

  32. char.untangled@gmail.com says:

    I do not overwind bobbins. I have several “bobbin dealies” one for various colors and one strictly for neutral thread (piecing quilts.) I wind about 12 or 16 at a time (groups of 4) with an empty or color bobbin separating the groups. After each group; change my needle, change my rotary cutter blade, clean machine. One spool of Aurifil thread (1300 meters) will wind more than 16 bobbins!

  33. Nyla Poser says:

    I didn’t even know there was a term for what I have done for 60 years and will continue to do. If I need enough thread to mend something, I am not going to search for an empty bobbin (and I have lots of bobbins). I have always wound just about enough onto another bobbin and do the task at hand. Never once have I had any problems.

  34. Terry Mathieu says:

    I usually wind several bobbins at the same time, I find that it is a time saver when I am in the middle of a project. I don’t like to overwind causeit can cause some tension issues.

  35. Krystyna says:

    I make a point of not overwinding my bobbins. It makes for much smoother sewing when they are a little on the scanty side.

  36. salchan says:

    Have never overwound. I wind one bobbin at a time – with thread so costly, don’t want to waste it sitting on a bobbin. Also, when free motion quilting I get very intense, winding a new bobbin makes for a good break.

  37. Jennie P. says:

    Yes, I might be guilty of overwinding sometimes, but it doesn’t cause hiccups.

  38. Karen says:

    I always overwind my bobbins, although I did not know there was a word for it. I’ve never had a problem but I recently bought a new electronic machine that I will be more careful with. I never had any problems with my old New Home even after 35 years, just wanted one of those new ones with fancy stitches, thread cutter, and needle threader. My old machine had the metal bobbins while the new one had plastic.

  39. Dolly says:

    I hadn’t thought of overwinding, but will do in a pinch from now on. I will also buy extra bobbins and scrunches, so it doesn’t happen. Thanks for the info.

  40. Michelle says:

    I tend to do one at a time as I rarely do toomuch sewing the same colour. But if I am doing one colour, I pre wind multiple. And I try not to overwind. Though I do have trouble getting the thread on tight enough.

  41. Ann Weaver says:

    Oh yeah! Been there, done that! Don’t like to overwind, but it happens! When I don’t have an empty bobbin, I pick up one with the least thread on it and away I go!

  42. Heide says:

    I am guilty of overwinding bobbins with my Kenmore Sewing machine, but I haven’t and wouldn’t overwind the bobbins with my Elna. I think the difference is because the Elna has plastic bobbins vs. the metal style for the Kenmore which used to be my Mom’s sewing machine. I also wind three bobbins at a time. A real timesaver.

  43. Marilyn says:

    Yup – used to overwind bobbins but have stopped doing it because I never could judge how much of the color was left on the spool and I never got a full bobbin of the color I was using. Only time I might consider it now was if I needed to sew only a very small amount of that color and didn’t have an empty.

  44. Hueisei says:

    I don’t overwind my bobbins, I usually wind them when I needed.
    Thanks for the chance.

  45. Mary says:

    Overwinding bobbins is a big no-no in my sewing room. I can’t remember the reason given, but that was emphasized as something you mustn’t ever do when I bought my first sewing machine. Maybe it’s just one of those crazy laws put out by the quilt police.

  46. Donna Street says:

    I used to do this back when I had old all metal machines, years ago. But, I don’t do it any more. I feel like the newer computerized machines are a little to ‘sensitive’ for that. Just my opinion, I don’t really have any scientific reason to think this, tho.

  47. KrisD says:

    Oh how funny! I can just see the bobbin doing it’s little dance when the end of the thread gets caught by the vacuum cleaner!!!! I’m still laughing!!! No, I don’t overwind my bobbins. I think it might make my sewing machine grumpy if I would. And I’m a ‘wind a bobbin when I need it’ kinda gal. I guess I never thought about winding several at a time.

    Thanks for the chance to win some sewing goodies!

  48. Terry Davis says:

    I always wind the number of bobbins I think I will need for each quilt. If I over estimate, I use the extra bobbin thread to practice free motion quilting or donate the excess thread to the birds for their nest building exercises each spring.

    I keep a huge glass canning jar on my quilt supply shelf that I fill with thread clippings and extra thread from bobbins (you know if there’s just a smidge on the bobbin). As the jar fills up, well, I like looking at the thread and seeing all the colors and remembering all the quilts I’ve stitch.

    Terry
    PS: I would LOVE to win – if not, early congrats to the winner :)

  49. Jacqueline Livingston says:

    I never overwind. I have several sewing machines, so to save time, I have several bobbins for each Machine. So I wind 12White, 12 Black and 12 Nuetrals,for each machine. And if I am going to work on a project that I am going to use a different color, I wind an approximate number of that color. If I have any left over, they go in a special bobbin case. So any time I may need just one bobbin of a different color, It is ready to use. It sure saves a lot of time. And bobbins are inexpensive, time is pressious. It’s really easy to wind lots of bobbins at a time.

  50. Maureen says:

    I do put two colors on a bobbin and have never had a problem.

  51. mel says:

    I never heard of overwinding a bobbin until I read this.

  52. Mary Val says:

    Never overwind my bobbins. I never have. I have extra bobbins for all my machines. When using my DSM, I wind one bobbin at a time as I need it. When using the long arm, make an estimate of how many bobbins I’ll need and wind a bunch of them: 10-15 or more. When you’re really in the groove, the last thing you want to do is wind a new bobbin. It breaks the rhythm.

  53. iris says:

    i don’t overwind any more, learned that lesson years ago, i wind a whole bunch at one time, grey, black, white and beige

    happy sewing

  54. Brenda says:

    I don’t overwind either. And will make several to have on hand. Nothing more frustrasting than having to stop and make another bobbin to continue working, especially when you are almost done with a project.

  55. Pam says:

    I would sometime overwind bobbins years ago, but for a quilting project I would want to have several extra bobbins full and ready to go. You learn all kinds of short cuts when you are fairly new to quilting!

  56. Rachell R says:

    I always seem to need more bobbins! I occasionally wind more than one color on a bobbin if I’m desperate and can’t get to Bernina. But never more than two colors, and definitely not different types of threads or weights in one bobbin.
    Thanks for a chance to win!

  57. Elizabeth Holman-Goold says:

    I do not overwind bobbins. I have several ready in neutral so that I can keep the project going. Just this year my husband bought about 30 extra bobbins for me, he found them on the internet.

  58. Heather says:

    I can honestly say I have never heard of overwinding a bobbin until I read this post. That’s an interesting concept. I don’t do it, however I do wind multiple bobbins at a time. Usually 2, but sometimes 3 when I am doing a lot of piecing or when I am FMQ.

  59. Lynne Rick says:

    I used to over wind my bobbins but now I have purchased additional bobbins and a bobbin winder and life is good!

  60. Bev Lawler says:

    I never over wind my bobbins. I like to wind a few bobbins at a time so when I do run out of bobbin thread all I have to do is put a new one in. It saves time- you don’t have to pull your thread out, wind it and then thread the machine again. Love the earrings! Thanks for the chance at the give a way!!!

  61. jenny says:

    In the past I have overwound my bobbins but just 2 colors and always the same weight of thread. Now I just fill the bobbin once. I also love having lots of bobbins prewound so that I don’t have to break up my momentum when in the middle of a project.

  62. Mary says:

    I bought lots of bobbins so I never overwind!

  63. Kd says:

    Love the earrings! They are adorable! I too tend to just wind one bobbin at a time, and think that it’s so sad to see overwound bobbins. What are these people thinking? Have great fun with your “new” Bernina. I’m sure you’ll love it! :) Kd

  64. racheal robinson says:

    Nope. I’m the girl that finds a bobbin that is “close enough” in color to finish the quick project. I am not too anal about using the exact same color thread especially if it wont show on the finished project. I actually never considered overwinding…I save the bobbins (and spools for that mater)that are close to the end and use that thread for hand sewing and mending projects. I have been known in a pinch to call in my 6yr old and let him do an unwind-who knew he could have so much fun watching that bobbin bounce around:)

  65. Danni Armstrong says:

    Nope have never put more than one color and one weight thread on a bobbin at a time. My mom taught me to sew and since she never did it I never got into the habit. It really doesn’t make sense to me to do that. During garment sewing I seldom had to wind more than one bobbin to complete my project as I always started with a full
    bobbin. With Quilting and embroidering I would wind several neutral colored bobbins.

  66. Lynda DeTray says:

    I do not overwind my bobbins but I do remember that my mother used to do this. I love the bobbin saver for storage, but also like the Clover tower.

  67. Vicki says:

    I have never overwound a bobbin, always thought that it was asking for trouble to do that. I do wind several bobbins at a time. I mostly quilt so use grey or taupe thread. I had a lot of different colors of bobbins from my sewing days and used them up when I made a mile a minute quilt, which uses lots of bobbin thread and since it was different colored scraps it didn’t matter.

  68. Dianne says:

    I have never overwound my bobbins but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought about it. If I am working on a large quilt or using neutral colored thread I will wind several bobbins at one time. But if I am using specific colors I will just wind one or two at a time because I don’t want to have alot of leftover bobbins at the end of a project with colors that won’t get used up quickly. I also like to use the prewound bobbins, and they have more thread on them too!

  69. Sandra Stehman says:

    I’ve never overwound a bobbin didn’t occur to me you could. I wind 2 or 3 bobbins of the color Im using. So as not to stop the flow of creating. Question why don’t. Machines use a spool of thread in place of a bobbin like on top so you don’t have to run out??? Just a thought.

  70. Chyree Rohde-Lincoln says:

    I always wind more than one bobbin at a time. There’s nothing more frustrating than running out of thread and you don’t realize it right away!!!

  71. Tambra Vandal says:

    Wow! I had no idea that there was people that overwound their bobbins, so no, I have never done that, & I don’t think I will be doing it. I have lots of bobbins & received one of those quick bobbin winders as a gift which is really handy when I’m sewing a project & my machine runs out of bobbin thread, I can quickly fill another bobbin without having to unthread my machine to use its bobbin threader. Thanks for the post…very interesting!

  72. louie says:

    when the creative juices are in high gear I fill several bobbins so I don’t have to stop..but I have found light ecru thread blends in with so many light color fabrics and I don’t end up with spools of unused thread that never matches another project.

  73. Doris says:

    Idon’t overwind. When I end up with used bobbins I either use them to piece scrap quilts or I unwind them and use the thread to combine with tiny scraps of fabric to mix together to make new fabric with so I have no loss at all. I wind all of my empty bobbins at one time. I use the portable bobbin winders so I can fill bobbins any where I want. Anything I hate is running out of bobbins. I have no patience at having to stop and fill bobbins. I always keep plenty of extra bobbins for all of my machines and each size has it’s own bobbin holder to keep them with each machine. When I am piecing I use up a lot of bobbins and spools of thread. Have fun ladies
    Doris

  74. Tonya Reichard says:

    Were you in my sewing room yesterday? You hit the nail on the head!!! Overwound a bobbin by mistake and had to pull off a fair amount of thread to get it to fit into the bobbin area of the machine. I think the 2 yr old GD had moved the little guide gizmo and it just kept winding. Anyone else need extra help? I can send her your way! ;O)

  75. Barb J says:

    I tend to overwind when I run out of bobbin thread when sewing garments, purses and the like. I know that I am only going to be using it for that project, and I hate to have too many bobbins wound with thread colors that I am probably never going to use again. I also use a different type of thread for that type of sewing than I do for quilting, so I keep the bobbins in a separate bobbin thing-a-ma-bob. On the other hand, when I am doing patchwork or quilting, I will wind half a dozen bobbins with a neutral thread, and never overwind.

  76. MoeWest says:

    I’ve never overwound a bobbin. However, I did buy an older Bernina last year and the bobbins that came with it had several colours of thread on each one. I pulled all the old thread off of those bobbins. I’ve always purchased extra bobbins but now that I’m quilting I need even more bobbins for the different types of thread. I usually wind one at a time except when I know I will need more of one colour.

  77. Wanda says:

    I had never heard of over winding bobbins until I read your post. I usually use prewound bobbins for all my basic piecing needs, as I stick with four basic neutral colors. (black, white, gray, cream or beige) I do wind bobbins when quilting so I have the right color, and usually wind three or four at a time, sometimes more depending on the size of the project.
    Next time I go visit my mom I will have to check out her bobbins.

  78. Michele says:

    When I had my workhorse basic Singer, I over-wound my bobbins all the time. My newer machine is a little more touchy, so I rarely do that now. I like the description of the “happy dance” the bobbin does! I frequently entertain my cat by tossing a bobbin on the floor and pulling the thread to empty the bobbin. She loves watching the happy dance, too!

  79. Patti Bovey says:

    I have lots of bobbins and usually fill several at the same time when I working on a quilt. Would love to have a bobbin organizer to store them instead of an old tin that I use.

  80. Janet says:

    My new machine takes care of my bobbins. I bought about a hundred bobbins with the machine and wind many at a time, especially for machine embroidery. My grandkids play bobbin blitz with my multi-colored empty bobbins…dropping them from the sky to the carpeted floor. Cheap toy :)

  81. Pearl says:

    I used to overwind the bobbins all the time, but with quilting I learned to have the extra ones ready to go. I went and bought lots of extras and don’t worry about it anymore. So much easier!!

  82. Kay Mc says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever overwound my bobbins. I bought extra so I can wind several at a time if I am working on a big project.

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