Why Is My Bobbin Thread Showing On Top?

  • By: joleenllorence
  • Date: May 29, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Stitches consist of a top and a bottom stitch, with a perfectly balanced pull between them. Thread tension is the pressure that each thread experiences as it passes through an embroidery machine.

The perfect sew stitch must have equal tension between the top and bottom threads so they link in the middle. Machine embroidery stitches are not compatible with this. An ideal satin stitch should have 1/3 bobbin (running down the center) as well as 2/3 top yarn split between both sides.

The needle itself may be the source of the issue. The top thread may break due to a crooked or dull needle, which may result in the bobbin thread protruding above it. Make sure you’re using the appropriate needle size and type for your fabric. Replace your needle frequently, especially if it is broken or worn out.

Why is my bobbin thread showing on top? The spool itself may potentially be a source of a frequent problem. The thread may bunch up or tangle if the ball isn’t placed properly, which will result in it displaying on top. Make sure that the thread is accurately threaded through the bobbin casing and that the bobbin is properly inserted. Make sure the bobbin you’re using on your sewing machine is the appropriate size and kind.

Why Are My Bobbins Showing Up On Top Of My Embroidery?

A tension imbalance between the top and the bobbin bobbins threads is what causes bobbins threads to show on an embroidery project’s top.

Either too much or too little pressure is exerted upon the upper thread. This causes the bobbin tension to pull the thread toward the front rather than creating a perfect stitch with the thread at the back.

For bobbin thread issues, do not adjust tension settings on your embroidery machines. Most likely, there’s something else that is putting excessive pressure on your top thread or causing problems in the bobbin.

Factors to Change the Delicate Tension Level

As I discussed in my machine tension adjustment article, there are many known factors that affect the machine’s delicate tension balance.

These are the situations when you will want to preemptively test your machine tensions using a project before embroidering.

  • Changing Top String Weight: Embroidery bobbin thread showing on top a heavy or very fine top string may result in a misalignment between the two threads making up the embroidery stitch.
  • Embellishment with Specialty Threads: A good example is embroidering in metallic threads. These are more successful with lower thread tension.
  • Changing Thread Weight: Each machine is assigned a preferred embroidery weight, so using a thread of a different weight can impact stitch quality.
  • Bobbin Working: Bobbin working is one example of how to loosen the tension in a bobbin by using heavy threads.
  • Pre-Wound vs. machine-wound bobbins:Prewound bobbins (at most for Brother embroidery machines), need a different type of bobbin case than the one used for machine-wound bobbins in order to account for winding differences.

Troubleshooting Bobbin Head Thread Showing at the Top: Steps to Take

We’ve just talked about how bobbing to the top is almost always an indication of tension imbalance. Except if you’ve made a change to your machine (as some examples have been given), don’t adjust the tension.

What Can You Instead Do?

Now, after millions upon millions of stitches on my machine, these are the most common reasons my thread bobbin shows at the top in an embroidery design. And how to fix it.

1. Take a look at Thread Spool

The threads catch magically around the thread spool at the base and around my auxiliary thread spool holder. It will happen when I am 5,000 stitches into a project and the top thread suddenly gets caught. In the best cases, I can fix the problem quickly by removing the top thread. 

In worst cases, such as the case above where the top thread is not looped tightly enough to tension the upper thread, and pull the Bobbin thread high for thousands upon thousands of unruly stitches, I fix the problem.

Check your thread spool first to make sure it isn’t tangled up or looped. It’s quite common for slippery threads that slip down the thread cone and pool below the bottom. If you find your threads are not unwinding evenly then you may want to use a net. To encourage even feeding, I always use a metallic or glow-in the-dark thread net.

2. Rethread Machine Upper Thread

If you suspect that the upper thread was not properly threaded, rethread it, following the thread guides in your embroidery machine.

To avoid threading between the top tension discs and the presser feet, ensure that you have the presser foot up.

3. Clean Upper Thread Path

Lower thread tension can be increased when tension discs are clogged up with lint or bits of broken threads. You can clean any debris that you can reach by using a small toothbrush. UNWAXED tooth floss can be used in the thread guides. If you wish to “floss”, ensure that you pull the floss along the thread path.

To avoid any future problems, you should never pull the top of the thread backwards from your machine. This could cause damage to the tension discs. Always cut the thread at the end of the first thread guide. Pull it out through the needle.

4. Clean the Bobbin Area

Make sure your bobbins are threaded evenly in your machine. Brother embroidery machines should have the thread come off the left side before passing through the tension spring.

Is your bobbin thread in the right case? Each Brother embroidery machine requires a different bobbin box for pre-wound and unwound bobbins. You can also use the standard case to wind your own bobbins. Is your machine using the correct bobbin yarn? Bobbin embroidery Thread can be used in a different way than the embroidery thread at the top.

5. Check the Needle

I accidentally forgot to change my needle when I started embroidering. The holes in my fabric were large and I could see a bobbin needle coming through.

sewing machine needles

A dull needle can also create larger holes, and bent needles can also cause havoc.

So, make sure to use a new needle with the best machine embroidering needle.

6. Needle Plate for Nicks

It is not likely that the needle plate is the culprit. However, it is worth checking. Removing any major nicks from the needle area is a good idea.

7. Increase top thread tension

If all else fails try increasing the tension on your machine’s embroidery needles. If it seems that this is working, try starting small and moving up if necessary. Your manual will explain how to adjust tension values and what the default tension setting is.

8. Increase Bobbin Tension

If that fails, you could also increase the tension of your bobbin. If you don’t know how to do this, please refer to the manual. Brother embroidery machines have a way to increase tension. 

9. Try a new design

It may be worth your while to sew a new design if you purchase the design from an anonymous person online. So, it is possible to rule out the design (also unlikely) as the root cause of the problem.

10. Turn off your machine, or go back to factory settings

A restart can be necessary for bobbin showing on top of embroidery machines, as with computers and smartphones. Try turning off and on the machine again to verify that it is working. Also, my Brother Luminaire XP2 got lost and started doing weird things. I had to reset it to factory settings.

Your fabric may have bobbin thread showing through the top. There are many possible causes. Here are some possible causes. The tension disks should be properly aligned and the thread in the correct direction.

  • Tension problems? Check your tension. If tension is too tight, the top thread of the bobbin will pull upwards. If the tension is too loose, the top will pull away from the bottom. Adjust the tension until it’s balanced.
  • Needle problems: A bent or dull top thread can cause it to break. This could lead to the bobbin to show on the top. Use the right size needle for your fabric. Replace it if it becomes damaged or worn.
  • Bobbin issues: When the bobbin isn’t properly inserted, it can cause the thread to tangle, or become coiled, which could result in it showing on top. Check that the bobbin has been properly inserted, and that the thread has been threaded through its case.
  • Fabric issues: Some fabrics, like lightweight or stretchy, require a certain needle and thread tension. You must ensure you’re using the correct needle and thread to fit your fabric.
  • If all of the above fail to solve the problem, it is worth speaking with a professional and/or the manufacturer of the sewing machine.

Are you using embroidery needle bobbin thread?

Why is my bobbin thread showing on top? The embroidery bobbin is thinner than regular embroidery floss. This uneven weight is what helps to keep the top thread on the back of your design and prevents the bobbin needle from showing through.

Unless I’m creating a free standing or in the-hoop project I use the exact same white embroidery bobbin yarn whenever I embroider. It is much easier to have the same type of thread for your embroidering projects.

You may consider using prewound bobbins. Prewound bobbins can be wound with greater precision than when we wind them ourselves. Propounds will produce more consistent tension.

Frequently Ask Questions

Is it the weight of bobbin needle?

Machine embroidery bobbin yarn is available in 60wt, 90wt and other weights. You can find the weight of your machine’s manual.

Do you use a Bobbin that fits in your bobbin box?

Some bobbin thread showing on top of embroidery is similar in appearance to others. This may lead you to think that an improperly fitting bobbin won’t work in your embroidery machine. However, this can cause tension issues and may not be the case in all cases.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eCheck your manual for the right bobbin type for your machine.

Do you have your bobbin properly positioned in the bobbin box?

You will find a diagram on my PE535, showing you how to insert bobbins into the housing. These suggestions will ensure the best results.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf your machine doesn’t offer such a helpful guide, check your manual.

Is your thread still stuck?

Sometimes, the embroidery floss will hang up on its own. It’s less common since I started to put my thread on a stand and moved it from my machine.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIt is best to keep your thread a good distance away. Your embroidery machine will help the thread u0022relaxu0022 before it reaches you. I know. Although this sounds insane, it’s actually quite useful, especially for those who work with metallic embroidery threads.u003cbru003e

Is your machine correctly threaded?

I can thread my machine at this point. However, sometimes I forget when I have the thread in the tension assembly. This can seriously screw up things.u003cbru003e

Are you using a large spool of thread to make your machine work?

These huge spools of embroidery floss are amazing and will last a very long time. You will probably ruin your tension if they are used on the thread holder.


In conclusion, why is my bobbin thread showing on top? Large spools are not recommended for embroidery thread holders. This is because it requires a lot of force to pull the thread from the spool, and then unwind it. A bobbin thread showing on top stand can be placed near your machine if you need to use large quantities of embroidery thread.

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