If you're not picking up a bobbin thread, it's either a timing issue, or the hook/needle clearance. Usually, with the hook/needle clearance the skipping stitch problem will be intermittent. If it's a timing issue, it may not pick up the bobbin at all.
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Sounds like you are describing the hook. Perhaps the owner's manual would be assistance. We don't know the make/model of your machine so are really unable to help. There are some videos on YouTube that show how to install a shuttle and bobbin case, but machines differ.
Mostly, I wouldn't try it. Either take it to a repair person or get a Sidewinder to wind your bobbins. The sidewinder is a little machine that just winds bobbins, it is available at Wal-Mart, sewing stores and on-line sewing places for about $30 and it has the additional advantage of being able to wind a bobbin while you're sewing.
This series of machines was nicknamed "touch and swear" and "sew and throw", as well as other, less polite, names, because the bobbin winding system is so touchy. Try a couple of new bobbins, and if that doesn't work, consult the nice folks at the yahoo group "wefixit": https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wefixit/info Most of the time, though, a new bobbin fixes this particular issue.
Hello Crystal, I also have had problems in the past with drop-in bobbins . I had to experiment with different model bobbins . The cause I found was due to the bobbin was not tall enough in the drop-in bobbin case. When sewing , the bobbin would rock in the bobbin case and the top thread would get caught on the bobbin instead of going over the top of the bobbin, causing the rats nest that you described. I would recommend finding a taller bobbin to fit in the bobbin case. There are about five different bobbins that will fit in there, but only one that will work properly. Knowing the exact model number of your machine would be a great help to finding the correct bobbin.
I can't recall just where the bobbin winder mechanism is located on this model. It might be on the front/top right-hand side, like on the 600 series and the Designer series??? If so, go to this website: http://www.sewmuch4retirement.com/tips/threadingbobbin.html This shows the Designer 1 machine, but the basics would be the same.
Had the same problen today, Remove your bobbin, the part where the bobbin is in should move a little, if it does not you have string you can not see behind that part. To get it out turn the machine backwards, it will really turn hard, but will turn, do this until you can see the thread come out or until the piece that holds the bobbin will move a little. good luck