Wednesday, August 5, 2009

While we're on the subject...

I thought I blather on about how much I LOVE twin needles. At one time in the not so distant past I was intimidated by them. How do they work? How do I set my machine? What are they for? Now that I have played with them a bit, I can't imagine sewing without them.Here is a nice assortment! As you can see, they come in several widths and even as a triple (which I haven't tried yet...). Although not pictured here, there is also a "stretch" variety that has ball point needles - perfect for knits for those of us without coverstitching capability.
Here is my current WIP - Logan's birthday shorts. As you can see, there is a significant amount of doubled topstitching, made so easy by the use of my twin needle.

So, how do you use a twin needle? I admit that this is what stymied me for so long. Although I have discovered that Janome is very well suited for twin needle stitching, there isn't a mention of it in her owner's manual (AKA my personal sewing machine Bible). What is up with that?? Fortunately, I found several web and print resources to help me out. I mostly used Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing, which has a nice section on using a twin needle. (Note to self, I ought to buy that book!) There is also a How-To on, and a cool reference chart on Threads. But it really is simple! Here is how. Make sure you have a machine that can zigzag (since that is what the bobbin will be doing). Set your machine for a straight stitch. Put in the twin needle. Thread your machine with two spools of thread with each spool rotating in opposite directions if possible. If your tension discs are visible, thread the separate threads to either side of the discs. Many machines have separate thread guides at the needle holder. If yours doesn't, just leave one of the threads out of that thread guide.

Now sew!
Here is how the stitching will look. The top is the needle stitching and the bottom sample is the bobbin. As you can see, the bobbin makes a zigzag, which leads me to my favorite thing about the double needle. It stretches!
It can also be used for lots of decorative things, besides just plain topstitching. Here you can see what happens when you change up the tension a bit. Set at 0, you can see that the stitches are flat, but once you tighten it up a bit, they begin to mound up just a little in between. By the time we get to an 8, you have a little faux pintuck going on. Cool, huh? You can also use a twin needle with decorative stitching, just be cautious of the stitch width. Be sure that the needles will clear your machine's throat plate before you go to town.

Go to the fabric store! Get a twin needle! Play!!


  1. You were right. I have two thread guides (the last one the thread goes through before the needle hole), but I do need to get the twin needle you have pictured at the top. Something else I've learned from you that I want to try--thanks!

  2. I love twin needles! My straight stitch only machine does them, but I'm limited in width due to the needle plate not having a super wide hole. It still works well when I need closer together double lines =)

  3. Great write-up on twin needles!! I've also recently fallen in love wtih twin needles. I was surprised that my mother, who has sewed since she was 13, didn't know what one was.

    I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  4. i have try. its neat, indeed. :-) thanks for your tutorial.

  5. Great post thank you! I found some useful hints to help out with a couple of issues I had. I also just posted a finished item using twin needles on my blog at and referenced your post. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for the tutorial - I just finished some jeans and want to get a wider twin needle if possible! This definitely gives me some tips!!

  7. i tried and tried to figure out why my machine(an older kenmore) didn't have a tension disk to put the two threads on either side of. just two disks on either side attached to the machine, and you can put the thread(s) between. i tried it and actually it works. just wanted to let anyone else know that with some machines it isn't necessary to go on either side, if it isn't built that way. x