I love it when I master new sewing skills. Being able to do something well makes the difference in my finished sewing, from looking a bit home-made to looking pretty damn good. The Sewing with Knits course introduced me to how to use a twin needle, especially for hemming knit fabrics. But it has other uses too.
Do you remember my cowl neck dress? I struggled so much finishing the hem on that dress that it just kept getting shorter and shorter as I cut off more botched attempts until eventually, I left the hem unfinished! This was what prompted me to sign up for the Sewing with Knits course, and eventually, I was able to master the use of the twin or double-needle and now I hem my knit fabrics with confidence. The finish looks really good and it just shows how you can get a good result on knit fabrics without any special stitches or serger – the twin needle stitched hemline just uses a regular straight stitch!
The twin needle can be used for a neat finish to hems, cuffs, necklines, and sleeves on your stretch projects, but did you know that you can also get really pretty results using it with decorative stitches and different colored thread?
Take a look at the video I made showing you how to use, thread, and enjoy sewing with the twin needle. It covers the knit fabric hem as well as decorative stitching.
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The twin needle is certainly one of my favorite sewing tools and you might even be able to come up with some more interesting ideas about how to use it.
P.S. – if you love the nifty needle threader I use in the video – you can find it here –Dritz Machine Needle Inserter and Threader
And the knit stay tape used can be found here.
I LOVE the patterns and tips you girls offer, especially the recent one for culottes; I wore them many years ago. Now they’re back – it amazes me how fashion recycles and I love the comfort of culottes.
Did you know you can get twin needles with VERY narrow spacing? And you actually can sew seams with them! I make my own underwear with this technique. The resulting seams are soft and don’t dig into my skin. Store-bought undies with their thick serged seams can hurt and leave marks on my skin, especially under skinny jeans. My own undies never do this. Of course there are some knits it won’t work with (every now and then I’ll find one that simply refuses to cooperate!) but most will. Try it and see.
Some people have mentioned special twin needle settings. I have a big, newish Brother electronic machine which has a special setting for twin needles but my 50-year old Kenmore doesn’t and it works just fine with them. I’ve been sewing for 60+ years and learned that when using double needles, tension can be tricky, especially when sewing a hem with them. Even so, it’s much better than dragging my heavy old serger down from the shelf or shelling out several hundred dollars for a cover stitch machine.
P.S. I just watched your video – very helpful – but I noticed you put the threads through together. I used to do that until I unknowingly got them twisted inside the machine where I couldn’t see it – DISASTER! Now I thread them separately and have no problems. Just wanted to help you avoid my mistake.
Thank you Suzanne, love your comment, I have those narrow needles and yes they are wonderful for making lingerie. I have made some suspender belts for my stockings, a bodysuit, some underwear and swimsuit, although the swimsuit did not fair well after the summer but that might have had to do with the elastic than the needles, I reckon.
Thank you for a very well presented tutorial on how to use the twin needle. Please consider making tutorials for the other feet in the big compendium of sewing machine feet.
Just found your video today and I love it! Really demystifies the twin needle dilemma I had! Thank you! However, one question…when threading, I noticed that the first thread was put thru the guide right above the needle while the second thread was not. This was not addressed in the video and I sure would appreciate knowing if this is what has to happen 🙂
I just saw your question and since I didn’t see a reply yet, thought I’d go ahead and answer it for you. I think most machine manuals will tell you NOT to put the right hand thread through the guide. I’ve been sewing knits for a long time and learned that sometimes this is good and sometimes not – I think it depends on both the fabric AND your machine. I suggest you try both ways on some scrap fabric and see how it works on your machine. It also helps to keep your upper tension a little looser than the lower. Good luck!
I have hav a few twin needles an have tried to use them but without much sucess now I have seen your video I shall be experimenting and practriceing especially with the decorative stitches
I have used a twin needle to hem little T-shirts but the hem turned up. When I loosened the upper tension, the problem was solved. But the lower thread was too loose and my granddaughter pulled this single thread easily out – ripping the hem easily. Please, advise. Thank you!
Hi Tereza, it looks like you have to stabilise the fabric first. Please cut some tricot fusible interfacing and fuse it all along the hem. That should stop it from turning upwards.
Great tutorial. Thank you, new favourite site!!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this amazing video!! I had given up on using my twin needles until I decided to “google” it ONE MORE TIME for help. I’m not sure how many times I’ve followed these simple but oh-so-effective steps in hemming tee shirts and shortening sleeves, but the results are perfect! I do alterations for the public as well as for myself, and this tutorial has given me the expertise and confidence I need to look forward to these tasks instead of dreading them! Thanks again!
Thanks for this video! I’ve had a double needle for years and I’ve wanted to use it, but every time I thought about it I shrank in terror just knowing something in my machine would die a horrible death if I attempted it. This really helps to demystify everything! Now I need to practice. 🙂
I thought I should also add that my machine has a button to press for twin needles. I have a memory craft 4000 made by Janome. So be sure and check your manual to see how to use the twin needle and of your machine will allow you to use one. Some won’t. Especially off got have an old machine. Most manuals can be found online if you don’t have one or you can find some on ebay.
Thank you so much! I just began experimenting with Knit and this is so helpful 🙂
The Singer 400 and 500 series (401, 403, 501, 503) will accept two single needles. Maybe some of the 600 series do also. It saves having to buy a double needle. It’s a vintage (1960s) machine but perhaps some modern machines can do this as well.
Thats great i love watching your videos you explain things really well x
In January last year Titu had questions about using a twin needle in a Janome 423S. That is the machine I have and am wondering if she has had better success now. I would like to know if using a twin needle is a good option with this particular machine and if so, what are the neccessary settings and techniques for sewing success.
It might be a good idea to post your question in the forum and see if any of the members there have any advice for you on Janome machines and twin needles. I don’t own a Janome so can’t advise you on settings to use, but hopefully someone out there can.
Do I need to use a particular stitch setting, or just the normal straight stitch to get the zigzag on the back?
You just use your regular straight stitch and the double needle makes the bobbin thread zig zag automatically, like magic!
That is magic! Thank you
Thank you for your quick reply Deby! I would have guessed the wrong width!
What size tape did you order? It looks like a nice size for that size needle.
Looks like there is a lot more choice now, I guess its been a very popular product. This is the one I was using, the fusible knit stay tape – 12 inch wide. http://shop.emmaseabrooke.com/product.sc;jsessionid=5D8CE55F25FCAF850F5CD5287408CCEA.m1plqscsfapp05?productId=34&categoryId=3
Great video! I have never used a twin needle before so this was very informative. When. I tried it on a scrap material & when I stopped, the treads seem to be tangling & then I have to re-thread otherwise it just jams, am I doing something wrong? I have a Janome HD 1000.
Hmm, that’s not a problem I’ve come across. Is it the top or the bottom threads tangling? Or do the threads tangle round the needles? Could you send in a photo or a video to look at – I could ask the readers for their input.
this is also the problem I’m having it keeps breaking my top thread and getting all tangled
Same thing happened to me
If you haven’t already, you might look at your manual to see if your machine will work with double needles. I know that lots of machines do and some don’t. Have you loosened your top tension and tightened your bobbin tension (just a tiny bit). Are your needles labeled “ballpoint” or “stretch”? Did you thread both needles individually? The left needle should be threaded first and be run through the thread guide just above the needle. When you thread the right needle, don’t put it through the thread guide. If this doesn’t work, go ahead and try it in the thread guide. If your still having problems, try using the double needle on some woven fabric to check your tension. Then try again with a knit.
I picked some up at jo anns and it stated to sew it on…..defeats this purpose….
Yes, sounds like that is the wrong stuff Janet, more of a stable type of tape you would sew into the shoulders for example to stop them stretching. I’ve put the link in the comments above to where I ordered mine, if that helps.
Where do you get this stay tape. None that I have seen have any adhesive.
This is the link – you can get it in several colors and widths. http://shop.emmaseabrooke.com/category.sc?categoryId=3
Will the twin needle work with any machine and if so, where does the third spool of thread sit?
It should work with most modern machines, not with older ones or those that have special needle fittings or where the needle sits the other way round. Best to consult your manual, or if you don’t have it, do a search online. For the extra thread, my machine has a little plastic spool holder which I can clip on top of my bobbin winder at the top and I add a bobbin on here for the second thread. But if you don’t have something like this, you can simple let it sit in a bowl and it will pull through just fine.
Great video ,do you ever use stretch wooly nylon in your bobbin? I have used it when prom season arrives and the girls buy these very full knit dresses with sequins.
Thank you. Judy
Hi Judy, No I’ve never tried it, only ever used regular thread. I can’t get anything fancy here so I’ve always just made do with the basics. High five to you though for tackling prom dresses. Must be difficult fabrics to work with.
Wooly nylon is great to use in the bobbin for double-needle hems. I think I learned about it from Nancy Zieman. I don’t have a problem with puckering or warping and I think it’s because of the wooly nylon. I bought my first zig zag machine after learning about it, so I’ve never tried using a double needle without wooly nylon. I have two colors, white and black and somehow they manage to work for every fabric color.
my daughter watched the video with me…she is the seamstress in the family. i never knew you could use two needles at once!
Thank you so much. I had no idea how to use those twin needles. My daughter gave me a beautiful dress for my birthday but it’s too long. I was afraid I would ruin it using the regular needles and and stitches, but now I know how to fix the hem correctly and perfectly. Thanks again. And decorative stitches, well that’s a new one. I’ll try it too!!
Thank you for your reply! 🙂 Actually I’m using a twin stretch needle (Schmetz) which should be ok. But the yarns I’m using could be better quality I think. However, I have been reading that other people also have had problems with this specific Janome (423s) sewing machine especially when using double needle. Someone gave me advice with the settings and now it’s better when using ribbing but when just turning the fabric like this in the hem it makes lots of jumps. I’ll try with the tape next time! Sorry, I don’t know all the sewing terms so well in English (I’m from Finland) but I hope you understood what I meant.
Hello, I just found your very nice website. 🙂 This was a great tutorial!! Thank you very much. I use a lot double needle but never knew about using tape like this. Now I need to get some hemtape…and also a new machine in some point since my Janome is not performing very well with double needle, it makes big stitch jumps when using double needle especially if the fabric is thin.
Hi Tiitu. Sometimes this missing stitches, or skipped stitches is a function of the needle rather than the machine. Especially if you are using a knit, stretch or thin fabric then you might need a different type of twin needle. They come in all different types and sizes, the same as the regular machine needles, so here I am using a twin stretch needle because I am working on a stretch fabric. The tape also stabalises the fabric, making skipped stitches less likely. Also sewing slowly can help to avoid this because the fabric will ‘bounce’ up and down less. Don’t give up on your machine just yet!
I`ve only used a serger before (or actually ask my Mom to help me use the serger; it`s embarrassing but I still feel scared of all those whirling parts!) This is something I should try. This looks kind of intimidating too, but I think I could manage it.
I agree – it looks positively dangerous, like you should wear eye protection and gloves! But actually it’s pretty harmless. Just make sure you set to a straight stitch. I once left my machine on a wide zig-zag by mistake and then yes, the needle hit the presser foot and broke. Totally my mistake. Get yourself a few scraps of fabric and a deep breath and wow – you did it and got a great result. I hope it works out well for you.
I guess practicing on scrap wouldn`t be so bad. I can see how a straight stitch would work best, too!
I just used a twin needle for the first time last week. Love IT!
I love the tutorial. Its always good to have a refresher and learn new ways.
I bought some stretch fabric to make myself a light weight cardigan. Due to fear of botching it and getting wavy hems, it has been waiting for 4 years! Thanks to your video it will become a reality. I love the tape and how zigzag effect keeps the reverse seam neatly covered
So helpful. I bought one a long time ago and got so frustrated I just gave up. This is a really great tutorial! Now I want to run and hem some t shirts! Does the hemtape dissolve after washing?
This tape doesn’t dissolve, but there are some that do. I think there is one called Wash Away, or similar. Or you could make your own with strips of water soluble stabilizer too.
Thanks for the tutorial. Been sewing for 30+ years and used a twin needle recently for first time. Had no idea there were different widths of needles and never used stabilizer tape. Happy to learn new sewing methods. Thanks so much. Keep the ideas coming. I look forward to your e mails.
Thank you, Deby, for making this looks so easy, and for the knit stay tape tip. I have never used either.
OMGOSH I can not say thank you enough I have had my twin needle in my machine threaded and ready to sew leggings for a week now but I was so scared of starting not to ruin my fabric…. thank you so very much Deb I will be sewing them up tomorrow with no fear !!!!!!!!!! Love all your blog & patterns and THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOU DO !!!!!!!!!! ♡ Linda Lee
So glad that the info was timely for you. I’ve gotten used to testing almost everything I do with knit fabrics on all the scraps left over, before I touch the project itself. You never know how a knit is going to react to a certain stitch!
Good tutorial! Made me want to go put a twin needle on my machine :O). I agree with Ellen’s comment, this would be great to use on quilts.
Thanks for the video. I had not realized that I needed to try to catch the unfinished edge of the fabric between the two needles, but you are right, it gives a much neater finish. Now I’m ready to hem like a mad-woman. Thanks again.
It’s certainly not essential Cindy, you can always neatly trim off any excess, but it does make for a nice neat look on the inside, and avoids the need to trim. I’ve ruined something at this last point more than once when I trimmed – only to snip a couple of holes in my finished project! Argghhh!
This would be great to use on quilts! I’ve never tried the twin needle before either. Love this video@@
Wonderful tutorial! I think I will give my twin needle a try this week. Thank you so much for taking your time to explain this in an easy to understand video 🙂
You are very welcome Katy. They can be a bit intimidating, but give it a go on some scraps and you’ll soon be hooked and looking for a chance to use it everywhere!
Oh my gosh. Is that what the twin needle is for? How could I not have known! Thankyou so much for this post!
I recently bought a the cs-6000i brother sewing machine that came with a twin needle and wondered what could I do with it I never had the courage to use it …now I know :)… thank you for posting this tutorial it is very well exlplained
Thanks for the great tutorial. Clear and very easy to follow.
My question– the second thread doesn’t need to go through the last little hook-dealy before threading into the needle?
No Julie, only the one on the left goes through the hooky before going in the needle. The one on the right bypasses the hooky and goes straight to the needle. Or at least that’s how it works on my machine.
Thanks for the tute. I hadn’t thought to do decorative stitches with the double needle. That’s a great idea!
Thanks for this. I need to pull out my twin needles again. I struggled the last time I used them. You make it look easy!