Friday, 22 February 2013

Stitch Formation in a Long Bobbin Machine

This is a Singer 28K.  I have removed the front and back slide plates and put a narrow strip of material under the foot to take the stitches.  The top thread is pink and the bobbin thread green.

When the needle goes down under the needle plate it forms a loop just at the very moment the shuttle is moving forward in the shuttle carriage.  The point of the shuttle is aimed straight through the loop.

Then the whole shuttle passes through the loop.

The top thread glides under the shuttle.

Once the shuttle has passed through the loop, the needle takes the top thread back up again, the loop is tightened, and the bobbin thread is held firmly in place on the underneath of the material.

It was years before I understood what was going on underneath with the shuttle.  I read a description online, complete with diagrams, but still couldn't fathom it out, until one day I was trying to sort out a problem with a transverse shuttle machine and was looking from underneath and I actually saw it happen.  Truly a moment of revelation. 

Welcome to the two new followers, Gavin Henderson and Anne Parker.  Thank you for joining!


  1. Dear Lizzie
    Firstly Thank you for your wonderful videos and blog! We found a beautiful (I think) 1896/7 Singer in charity shop yesterday (serial 14 128 679), so the same as shown above. What we cannot seem to fix, is that every so often, the needle does not form a loop at the bottom, so the shuttle has nothing to pass through. It seems fine if you go really slowly, but as you gather a bit a momentum, it starts skipping stitches.
    Any thoughts? We have not tried different needles yet. Many thanks, INge - Maidenhead, UK

    1. Hello Inge,

      Congratulations on your new machine.

      If you only bought it yesterday then you haven't yet had time to give it a thorough cleaning and oiling. The likelihood is that it hasn't been used for decades. Even if it looks clean and in reasonably good shape, you need to clean every inch of it inside and out to clear out any compressed dust and oily residue. After that it will benefit from being well oiled, left overnight with lots of kitchen roll to catch the seepage, and then leave it as it is for a few days, just turning the handle like blazes every time you walk past it. Then try the stitch again next week. If it is still skipping stitches, it could just be that the needle is blunt.

      Good luck!,



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