January 22, 2009

Bobbin Along

On the sewing machine list for my Janome model the subject of pre-filled bobbins comes up at least once a week. While I was sewing mind-numbing nine-patches this week my mind wandered to bobbins.
#1 Can anyone tell me why sewing machines have to have such piddly little bobbins? What is so hard about designing a bigger bobbin case? And
#2 What is the attraction with pre-wound bobbins?

So when I took a break, I got a new spool of

  • Coats and Clark 100% cotton 50 weight thread, 300 yard size. Cost, 30% off at Fabric Depot, $1.30 per spool

  • Janome bobbins, reusable untold number of times. In 15 years I've had two break. .50 cents each

  • The above thread filled 8 bobbins @ 37.5 yards each.

  • Took 14 minutes to do, or 1.75 minutes each

  • Cost per bobbin .16.25 cents each. Disregarding the bobbin cost itself, as mine are reusable and the pre-filled are throw-away.
Well that's all good to know, but when trying to compare prices I find that a lot of places selling them haven't a clue what weight of thread is on them. That is comforting to know. Not.

I found one place with 108 bobbins 93 yards each, 60 weight thread for $70.00, $50.00 on sale. .47.3 cents each. Humm, 3 times the thread though. Looking further I find another site with the same offer for $33.00 for 108. 30.5 cents each. Plus shipping which can zoom up that price. So that tells me the pre-filled I see with even more thread on them are using lingerie weight thread in the 80-90 weight range. Which gives even longer sewing time. Except when sewing something you need to last like clothing and quilt seams I sure wouldn't recommend it.

Which leaves me still comparing apples and oranges, price wise, but time wise it took almost no time to fill 8 bobbins and then it was time to sit down and go back to work. Where do you fall on the do-it-yourself vs. pre-filled controversy?

Thursday Thankies
Hostess Ding-Dongs
The oddest blessings this week
Nearly a week of blue sky and sun


Quilt Pixie said...

I always wished sewing machines were set up so I could buy two spools of thread -- use on on top and one on the bottom... what's this wind a bobbin thing about....

I usually use a cone of thread on top (1500meters) and wind about a dozen bobbins at once. When I have to re-wind bobbins, I need to change my needle. It gives me the convenience of pre-wound bobbins, an easy marker to ensure sharp needles, and really takes no significant time as I'm doing a bunch all at once...

Pieceful Afternoon said...

I've never felt the need to buy prewound bobbins - as it seems to take such a short time to wind some - but I have a friend who does tons of machine embroidery and she buys them - says she gets much more embroidery done before having the change bobbins - and she sells her stuff that she makes so she can figure the price of the pre-wound into her selling price.

I'll just stick to winding several at a time and saving money. Thanks for doing the research for us.

Lady Farmer said...

Boy! Am I stupid or what? I didn't even know they had pre-filled bobbins! And I have been sewing for quite a while! But with everybody and everything going green these days, and everyone could stand to pinch a penny or two, why would anyone bother with pre-filled? Thanks for doing all the research! And now you've made me hungry for a Ding-Dong! :~}

Bizarre Quilter said...

Well, I love the way you presented all the information. Thank you.

My Janome machine has an independant bobbin winding motor, so if it was all about time, I could wind while I sew. I buy piecing thread in 3000yd cones (Signature thread is the BEST for piecing and machine quilting).

However, the best reason I know for buying a bobbinfil product is because it takes up less space on the back, so you can put a lot more free-motion embroidery/quilting in a small space and not worry about the bulk on the back. We are talking really high use here.

I believe that is also why a lot of computerised embroidery is done with bobbinfil.

Interesting thread... thanks for making my brain work.

Susan said...

I've often wondered what the attraction to pre-filled was and who would buy them anyway? Well, thanks for doing the math. I would prefill my own, thanks. From a "green" standpoint it seems it would be smarter to do so, and from a thrifty perspective as well. I'm trying to figure out how I can control costs all the time, so it's a no-brainer for me.

Julie said...

I am one who normally likes to match my thread on the front and back and just wind several bobbins at a time if I'm doing a big project. The prewound bobbins I have seen are a thinner weight as you mentioned and since I don't have an embroidery machine I don't see why I would need to spend the money on them. I know people who love them though.

Numismatist Facts said...

I just stick to the old fashioned way. Haven't ever bought the pre-wound and probably won't.

I usually fill four or five at a time. When MQing I always wind before I start the quilting. Also, that is how I keep track of the time spent. Each bobbin takes 45 minutes to use when quilting at full speed.

Now, if I could just get back into the mood to sew....

Idaho Quilter said...

I like to use the same wieght and color on the bobbin. Most everything old-fashion is better, cheaper and better for the enviorment and our health. As cooking from scratch.