Hembobs: What Are They & Why Would I Use Them?

Item # X-HT-300131

A Bobbin By Many Names

You may have heard pre-wound bobbins being referred to as belbobs, barbobs or hembobs. These little bobbins have many names, but in general these terms refer to the same thing. Each thread company over time has branded their own name for their pre-wound bobbins. Belbobs, for example, were from the Belding Corticelli Thread Company. These are sideless bobbins with a core. Barbobs came from Barbour Threads and are bobbins with a core and paper sides. A hembob came from the Hemmingway Bartlett Thread Company and is a sideless, coreless bobbin. Through company mergers over the years, none of these original companies are still in existence today and the terms are now used interchangeably.

You’ll see that here at Sailrite® we refer to all pre-wound bobbins generically as “hembobs.” We do this because we originally sold only hembobs from Hemmingway Barlett. After that company was bought out, we don’t actually carry any true hembobs anymore (without a core or sides) but we kept the name hembob because our customers were familiar with that term over the other synonyms for pre-wound bobbins.

Why Use Pre-Wound?

Why use a pre-wound bobbin over one you wind yourself? The main benefits to using a pre-wound bobbin are that hembobs are easier for the sewist and create better stitches.

One main difference between pre-wound bobbins and those you wind yourself is that a pre-wound bobbin can hold 30-50% more thread than an own-wound bobbin. This extra thread leads to fewer bobbin changes while sewing. Also, because the thread is wound on the bobbin at the factory there is more consistency with how much thread is on each bobbin. This will help you better anticipate when the thread will run out.

Factory wound bobbins create better stitches because the wind is more consistent than on self-wound bobbins. This, in turn, makes the tension of the thread more consistent as it comes off the bobbin, which improves the stitch appearance and the bobbin tension. The soft sides of pre-wound bobbins also reduce the risk of the thread breaking if there are rough edges on a metal bobbin.

Depending on the size of your project, using a pre-wound bobbin may cost you a bit extra or save you money. For small projects, it can be advantageous to buy only hembobs if you know you don't need a lot of thread. However, for large projects, it would be more cost-effective to wind your own. Arguably the biggest reason to use a pre-wound bobbin is that it is just easier. You don’t need to worry about winding a bobbin before threading your machine during set-up for a project so it saves you time. So the extra money spent might be well worth it in time savings.

Bobbin Styles

When you go to purchase a pre-wound bobbin of thread, you’ll see that there are different “styles” to choose from. Style is a guide for the diameter and height of a bobbin as expressed through a letter designation. You can find which style will fit your sewing machine in the machine’s guidebook. We carry two hembob sizes at Sailrite. The Ultrafeed® and Stitch Master® Sewing Machines, and some home sewing machines, use a Style A (also known as Type 15) hembobs. The larger Style M hembobs fit our Fabricator®, Professional and Sailrite 111 Sewing Machines.

Hopefully you learned something new about pre-wound bobbins. If you want to give them a try for yourself, you can get white or black bobbins for all Sailrite sewing machines right here at Sailrite, just look under the Thread category.

Do you sew with pre-wound bobbins? What do you like or dislike about them? Share your experiences in the comments!


This blog was updated in June 2020 to reflect current hembob stock and product offerings.