How to Adjust Bobbin Timing




Introduction: How to Adjust Bobbin Timing

Sewing machines are surprisingly delicate pieces of machinery.  When the bobbin or needle gets pulled out of timing with the rest of the tool, the machine is useless and becomes a danger when the needle breaks.

In this Instructable I will show you how to adjust the bobbin timing on your machine.  For my example I will be using the Handi-Quilter at TechShop San Jose.

You will need:
A pair of thread nippers
A screw driver
A metric hex key set (if your machine happens to use it.  It might be all screws)

Step 1: Take It Apart

First, remove the needle plate and run the wheel by hand to see where the needle is hitting.  This can give you a good idea of which direction you need to rotate the shuttle hook and shuttle race.

Step 2: How a Bobbin Works

Sewing machines are a mystery to a lot of people, but this website has a great animation that shows how a bobbin works.

There are 2 main parts that I will be talking about today

1. The Bobbin Case
2. The Shuttle Race/Shuttle Hook

The Shuttle Race is made of 2 parts.  The part on the inside is stationary, and the part around the outside rotates and grabs the thread as you sew (aka. the hook).

Step 3:

Remove the bobbin case and loosen the lock bolts located behind the shuttle race so you can turn and realign it with the needle.

On the Handi-Quilter, there are 2 lock bolts which you can access through the access points on each side of the machine.  You might have to turn the wheel to get to each.

Step 4:

Now that the shuttle is loose, turn the hand wheel until your needle is all the way in the down position and just about to start on the up swing.

Once you have the needle down, rotate the outside of the shuttle until the point of the hook is just above the eye of the needle.

It is very important that the inside of the shuttle stay stationary during this alignment.  It should be held in place by a prong coming out of the machine.

Step 5:

Now tighten your lock bolts behind the shuttle so the shuttle hook turns when you run the machine wheel.  

Again, you may have to carefully turn the wheel to get access to the bolts, but be sure the shuttle is turning with you.

Step 6:

Next, check the distance between the stationary part of the shuttle and the pin that comes out of the front of your machine.  The pin should insert into an opening at the top of the shuttle.  

There should be an opening between the top of the pin and the back of the shuttle slot.  It varies between machines, but should be somewhere around 1/16" or less.  You really just want enough of an opening do the thread can come up through after going around the bobbin.

If you do need to adjust the distance of the pin, there should be a bolt underneath the machine you can loosen.

I suggest you thread the machine, insert your bobbin, and run the wheel to make a stitcth at this point to make sure you have the shuttle hook and your pin aligned properly.

Step 7:

Now, reassemble your machine and test on a piece of fabric.

Good Luck!

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    Tip 2 years ago

    Just got my Babylock Coronet working again after breaking a needle - thanks for the great tutorial! Two extra tips that I found helpful:
    1. Use a Sharpie to mark the center of the scarf while the needle is up - makes it a lot easier to see where to line up the hook.
    2. The shuttle race is adjustable BOTH clockwise/counterclockwise AND in/out. I had the timing right, but the hook was too far away from the needle. I had to back out the pin/prong that keeps the inner race from spinning in order to get enough room to pull the shuttle forward much closer to the needle.

    I found this video helpful too. Good luck everyone!


    Question 2 years ago on Step 6

    I have a Pfaff 78. The shuttle race part that is supposed to be stationary, is not stationary and the needle keeps hitting it. I can’t see any screws to tighten it.
    Also, when I put the bobbin in with the thread it’s not straight - the bobbin top is at 11 instead of 12:00. Can you help?


    Question 3 years ago on Introduction

    I bought this Pfaff classicstyle quilt machine used. The problem is that where the bobbin case goes in its not in there right when trying to sew, the needle with hit where the bobbin goes in and breaks the needle HELp


    Question 3 years ago on Step 2

    I have a pfaff 30 machine and and my bobbin case won't be stay in place. The hook race seems OK.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    A great instructable! It helped me with the timing of my Adler 69, especially your note regarding the "prong coming out of the machine" which should hold the inside of the shuttle stay stationary. On my machine, the prong is on a removable part, which I took off during the attempted "repair". Then, naturally I got left wondering how to keep the inside stationary. Your 'ible helped me notice the prong and recognize its function, and all was well from then on.

    There are plenty of advice and tutorials on the net about timing the hook, and I even have the manufacturer's service manual. But in all of them, I have failed to find this crucial little note on the existance and the function of the prong. Perhaps it might be obvious to somebody else.

    Anyways. It is such small details that make great 'ibles. And this one will save me time and money in the future, as I believe I will no longer need to rely on a professional shop to set the timing of my machine! Thank you! :)