Front-loading bobbins were the first on the scene. But drop-in bobbin sewing machines have replaced them, and there are many reasons for it. A Drop in bobbin (also known as top-loading bobbin) is a bobbin set up in which the bobbin protrudes from the top of the sewing machine surface. To insert or remove it, all a sewist needs is to lift the needle plate, then take out or insert the bobbin case such that it sits horizontally under the needle compartment.
On the other hand, in a Front Load Bobbin (also called a side-load bobbin), the bobbin case is fitted vertically with a little door behind the accessory area or in front of the machine for easy access.
Drop-In Bobbin sewing machines Vs. Front Load Bobbin has been an ongoing debate for some time now. Front-loading bobbin has been around for quite some time, and hasn’t changed much while the drop-in bobbin is an innovation of the modern world. We are in 2021, and we are into the second generation of drop-in bobbin systems, which are more efficient technologies.
Nowadays drop-in bobbin sewing machines are more popular. For example, if you go through our 2018 list of 10 Best Beginners Sewing Machines, only two of them feature a front loading bobbin. It’s now clear that the era of the front-loading bobbin is fading away. The main issue with front-loading bobbin is that it is harder to change the bobbin. Moreover, you will have to play with it for a while to get the right amount of tension, critical for the stitch quality.
On front-loading bobbin machines, you will have to remove the accessory compartment to change the bobbin. The removal of this compartment is a huge inconvenience, especially for beginners. Drop-in bobbins (shown in the figure), on the other hand, are much more beginner-friendly. Modern drop-in systems are way better than older ones. When compared to front-loading counterparts, drop-ins provide better stitch quality and are much easier to thread. All drop-in bobbin machines (well, most of them)now come with a transparent cover. With this, you can keep track of the amount of thread left in the bobbin.
Differences Between Drop In Bobbin and Front Loading Bobbin
There are many differences between them some of which include:
For Drop-in bobbins, they can be accessed on top of the machine by loosening the needle plate. While for Front Load bobbin, the accessory area (usually positioned at the front of the machine) will need to be removed; alternatively, the bobbin opening at the front of the sewing machine can also be used.
Threading & Tension
While Drop-in bobbins are easy to thread and do not require re-tensioning, Front load bobbin, on the other hand, are a bit more challenging to thread, with the bobbin case requiring some tension adjustments sometimes.
When it comes to stitching quality, drop-in bobbins are preferred. This is because they are easier to insert in the bobbin case and are also easier to tension, thereby creating a more precise stitch pattern.
Generally, most of the sewing machines with Drop-in bobbins use a plastic needle plate. This ensures users can monitor the amount of thread left in their bobbin. However, this is not possible for machines with Front Load bobbin as they use metal needle plates.
Ease of Use
Most sewists believe that Drop-In bobbins are more convenient to use than Front Load bobbins. Regardless though, it is still a good idea to learn how to set in and tension both types of bobbins.
Which Bobbin is Best?
It is always good to know how to sew with both types of bobbins. But if you are a beginner, I will always recommend a machine with a drop-in bobbin. It is less complicated, and you can spend more time sewing rather than running after screwdrivers. To me, front-loading bobbins are an outdated piece of technology.