Along the way, I have explored most options available for keeping bobbins organized. First there were the little clear plastic boxes with the half circle molded plastic tray that held the bobbins in place. It was not bad solution, except that the little plastic tabs that held the lid closed would break. Without a way to keep the lid secure I would be back to having a tangled mess of thread when the little box spilled. The largest boxes only held about 16 bobbins.
Then there were the plastic cups that clipped onto the spools of thread. I kind of liked these because I would purchase and cut several garments at the same time. For each garment I would cut the fabric, then place the cut pieces, pattern and instructions, notions, including the buttons or zippers, thread and bobbins all into a plastic zip seal bag for safe keeping. Everything stayed together from start to finish. This worked well for a bobbin holder as long as all of your spools of thread were the same size as the little clip on plastic cup. See the first spool of thread in the photo below. You needed at least one clip on top for every spool of thread though so it didn't work so well for the inactive spools and bobbins.
|Spools of thread and bobbin holders|
|Same spools of thread and bobbin holders viewed from above|
My newest sewing machine came with another type of bobbin holder. These are little clips that fit together. If you have enough of them you can make a circle and snap them together. You can also add rows, creating a tower for your bobbins. It is a pretty good system because the bobbins clip in and come out easily. For this to work well you need a lot of little pieces to snap together. It is also not my favorite.
I don't even know who makes it, but my favorite bobbin organization tool is a little rubbery plastic circle you can slip your bobbins into. It secures the bobbins, keeping everything together in one place. If you drop it the bobbins stay secure. I does not spill them even if you hold it upside down. Each circle will hold about 26 bobbins. I like this method because I use one for empty bobbins, or bobbins that are about to be empty again; one for my metal bobbins that fit my recently restored antique Singer and two that hold most of the colors I might work with in any given moment. I arrange colors in families, light to dark and it makes it very easy to find any bobbin color quickly. I really like that it keeps a lot of bobbins handy and in a smaller space.
I think it is worth having the extra bobbins because I use these smaller amounts of thread for several things. If I need to do any mending I can grab just the bobbins. There are probably two bobbins in colors close enough to what I may need to sew so that I do not have to hunt down a full spool or purchase a new one to do quick repairs. I also find it easier to work with bobbins for the top and bobbin thread when I sew quilt tops. I can quickly change the thread color for two different quilt pieces then move them back and forth if needed. This takes up less space.
I also use my bobbins, especially colors I may not need again to sew muslins. The contrast color makes sewing a boring muslin a little bit more interesting in addition to making the seams very visible. Where I need to make an alteration I can switch to another color so changes stand out and remind me of the things I changed when I start on the fashion fabric.
From Online Etymology Dictionary
1520s, from French bobine, small instrument used in sewing or tapestry-making, perhaps from Latin balbus (see babble (v.)) for the stuttering, stammering noise it made.
1819, from bobbin + net (n.).
fine silk bobbin-net, c.1818, from Tulle, town in central France, where the fabric was first manufactured.