Bobbins for vintage Singers


Or as is often included with a sewing machine for sale on Ebay, bobbings.  If you’re lucky there’s sometimes a packet of neddles with it too, but anyhow …

First off, here’s a snap of a bobbin and shuttle out of a 28K.  This is of course the Vibrating Shuttle that doesn’t, and this particular one is in the state most of them tend to be found in unless Granny looked after her machine really well and it’s been kept dry ever since she turned her toes up.  There’s only one Singer long bobbin (as it is known), you can still get them from Singer, and they will fit any Singer Vibrating Shuttle machine.

Picture of Singer Vibrating Shuttle with long bobbin

Round bobbins are a different matter, and the first one we need to consider is this horrible thing …

Picture of plastic 66-type bobbin for vintage Singer sewing machine

Now a plastic bobbin is all very well in your modern machine with a plastic bobbin-carrier, but it has no business in a vintage Singer.  None whatsoever.   Not even if it does fit on the bobbin-winder.  You can get into your feng shui as much as you like, but believe me you’ll never up your positive qi if you put one of these in your lovely old 99.  Not a chance.  Guaranteed to put your chakras out of alignment too if you ask me.   In fact, all things considered, the best thing you can do with any nasty plastic bobbins you find is to donate them to Auntie Sandra so she can use them in her nasty plastic Singer Touch ‘n’ Tangle.

No, what you want is proper bobbins, made of metal, like these …

Picture of bobbins used in vinatge Singer sewing machines

Having said that, though, you only want the one on the left if you have a 221 or 222 Featherweight or a 301.

And if you have a Singer Model 15 of any flavour it’s the one in the midlle you want, although as far as I know, the 15 bobbin also fits stuff we don’t get into here such as the 223, 227, 228 and 237.

It’s the one on the right we’re interested in, and that one is properly known as the Metal Singer 66 Bobbin.  It fits the 66, the 99 and the 201 which are the ones that Elsie and I mainly interested in, though I do have a weakness for a nice 185 and it fits those too.  Actually it fits a whole heap of other machines as well such as the 285 and the 401, but that’s uncharted territory as far as I’m concerned.

OK so far?  Right.  So if, as is often the case, you have an assortment of bobbins which look like the two on the right, how do you tell which one is the kosher article for a 66, 99 or 201?  It’s a doddle.  You look at ’em side-on …

Side view of three different vintage Singer bobbins

The one in the middle is the one for the 15’s, and it is flat. Yes, I know there’s a raised lip round the hole up the middle, but the top itself is flat.  So is the bottom.  Except there is no bottom, because a bobbin is eitherwayuppable.  Check out the one on the right and there’s your answer – if the bobbin is slightly domed like that, it’s a 66 bobbin, whether it has holes in it or not.  That’s the one you want for a 66, 99 or 201.  I told you it was easy.  However, we’re not quite done yet because you need to be aware of one final thing.

Beware of metal 66 bobbins bought new off the internets.  Some factory out east has churned out gazillions of nice shiny 66 bobbins recently which apparently work perfectly well with machines built from the 1960’s on, but not with a vintage machine.  They are No Use.  You know when you put a bobbin on the winder there’s a little sticky-outy thing which goes in the small hole in the side of the bobbin and if it doesn’t, the shaft turns but your bobbin stays put?  Well, on this particular (anonymous) make of new 66 bobbin, the hole’s in the wrong place.  And the only sure-fire way to tell if they’ll work with your vintage machine is to actually try one on the bobbin-winder …


One response

  1. I just made the same experience with new class 66 bobbins: The hole isn´t in the right place!
    With a Proxxon grinder I made a slot out of that hole. Now it fits into the bobbin winder – not yet sewn with it…