Home » Double Needle Stitching -6 ways to use it in sewing

Double Needle Stitching -6 ways to use it in sewing

Twin needle or double needle is a very disused accessory; everyone has it in their sewing kitty but not many use it. 

Being afraid that changing the needle and threading with the double needle is one big lot of trouble is one of the reasons why people stay away from this very useful accessory. Some are unaware of the many uses of double needles .

But once they use this very versatile needle on their hems and other purposes this needle will be one of the most used accessories. 

twin needle sewing

What is a double needle ?

Double needle / twin needle is a needle with a single shank and two shaft. The two needle shafts have an eye each through which two threads are threaded. As you proceed with the double stitching  you will get two parallel rows on the face of the fabric and a zig zag stitch on the back of the fabric

What do you need to sew with double needles

One pre-requisite to sewing with double needles is that you have to have a zig zag sewing machine with a zig zag needle plate. Ensure that the zig zag needle plate has a big enough hole to accommodate the double needle you have and the stitch is set to straight stitch. 

Two thread spools

Two thread pins ( can do with one pin too as explained below)

How to choose the double needle ?

All Double needles are not made alike. There are always two numbers on each double needle to show size. The first number shows the distance between the two needles. The second number, the one that follows the slash, is the size of the needle ( For eg 2.0/80)

Depending on the distance between the two needles – They are numbered 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 etc 2 means distance between the two needles are 2 millimeters

Two things decide how much stitch width you can choose with the needles – 1. width of the hole in the throat plate and 2. the number on the needle you have ( which denotes the distance between the two needles of the double needle)

To know how wide you can go with the needle, if you have a very wide throat plate, subtract the number of your needle from the longest stitch width in your machine.

Fo eg: Width of the longest stitch width in your machine – number of the double needle

If you get 2 as this  number this is how much wide you can go with any stitch in your machine.  If you go more than this your needle will hit the sides of the throat plate and break

Twin needles are available as Universal and stretch needles. If you are sewing knits it is advisable to use the stretch double needle.

Where to keep the two threads for sewing with twin needle

There are 5 places you can keep  the thread spools

1. Check in the kit you received with the sewing machine – you may have an extra tread pin you can keep on a hole on top of your machine or on top of the bobbin winder. This is for the extra thread spool used in double stitching. If you donot have checkout the other options.

2. If you have a very long thread pin, you can stack the two thread spools on it. Did you know that the spool moves in a particular way when sewing. Ensure that the second spool is moving in the other direction opposite to the first one. This will prevent tangles.

Do not worry if you do not have an extra thread pin or a long thread pin on which you can keep the two spools together, you can use a winded bobbin as a thread spool. The bobbin and the thread spool can be stacked together.

3.Another place to keep the bobbin used as a top thread is the bobbin winder pin. Just do not engage the winder by moving it on. Then you can use it as a thread pin.

4. Use a straw as the thread pin. 

How to use the twin needles  for making a coverstitch type stitch

Step 1

Set the Machine to Straight stitch mode. Insert the twin needle (just the way you insert ordinary needle- if in doubt consult the service manual)

Step 2

Thread the sewing machine. You may need to check the service manual for your sewing machine for steps for your particular machine. General steps are as given below.

You keep two thread spools on the thread pin and thread the machine together till you reach the needle; then one thread goes to one needle and the other thread to the twin

Bring bobbin thread up as usual. Hold it all together with your fingers.

Take the two threads and the bobbin thread to the back of the machine under the pressure foot.

Step 2

Set the stitch for sewing the straight stitch.

Loosen the top thread tension a little bit.
Sew slowly
Some thin fabric may need stabilizers / backing added to the back of the fabric to prevent thread pulling in the fabric between the stitching lines.
This is especially true for knits. You will have to hold the fabric taut and may also need to use a stretch double needle when sewing knit for best results.

Remember to keep the thread tails to the back of the needle at all times during sewing. 

Advantage of double needle stitching

Double needle stitches makes double stitches at the same time, so you get enforced stitching.

It makes two rows of stitches at once  – so less work.

Disadvantages of Double needle stitching

Twin needle uses a sort of  a chain stitch. At the back of the fabric there is a loop made So it is not as strong as a single straight stitch. In a factory made garment, a single needle seam considered superior to a double needle seam because of its finish and strength.

6 uses of double needle stitching

1.To make a hem similar to the coverstitch hem 

You must have seen this hem on your T shirt. On the face of the fabric two parallel lines can be seen but on the back of the stitching a zigzag stitch connecting the two lines is seen.

double needle stitch hem

This hem can be made using a double needle.

Use a 4 number needle to make this stitch. Turn under the raw edge of the fabric to the back. Place the fabric right side up under the pressure feet ; Position the needle so that this raw edge will be coming directly in the middle of the two needles of the twin needle.

Remember you are going to stitch from the top of the fabric. Start sewing . The raw edge will be enclosed in the zig zag stitch on the back of the fabric and you will get 2 parallel row of stitches on the right side.

If you are sewing this hem on Knit fabric the hem will stretch and remain intact if you use a thread with a slight stretch to it, rather than the cotton thread. Basically the stitch itself has some stretch because of the zig zag stitch it forms on the back.

2. To sew seams on sheer fabric 

To avoid bulk on the seams of sheer fabric you can sew with this needle and cut off the seam allowance closely. Not the most durable of seams though. 

3 To attach ribbon trim

Ribbon trims can be attached in one go by sewing it with a double needle which is the correct size for it. The distance between two needles should just a little lesser than the ribbon width so that both edges will be caught. 

4 To make Decorative stitches 

double needle sewing

Use the decorative stitch options in your sewing machine to make decorative borders. Remember to make sure that the stitch width is compatible with your needle plate hole. You can experiment with colours and stitches on a scrap fabric before trying out on the final pieces.

You may have to use Interfacing on the back for thin fabrics to prevent fabric puckering. And it is better to choose more open stitches than dense stitches to avoid complications. 

5 To make Pintucks

You can make beautiful pintucks by sewing with the double needle and a pintuck foot. Check out the post on Pintucks for more details



6 To make parallel rows of top stitching

The twin needle is a life saver for those who cannot sew straight especially when you have to sew two parallel lines. What could be easier than sewing both the lines in one go with a twin needle.

Related posts : Learning to sew – Sewing tips & techniques.; Sewing machine feet guide


AUTHOR : Hi, I am Sarina. I am passionate about clothes, sewing, fabrics, fashion and surface design techniques in no particular order and absolutely love writing about all of these including what I learn, what I experience, and what I have bought to do all these. You are more than welcome to stay here and learn with me.

15 thoughts on “Double Needle Stitching -6 ways to use it in sewing”

  1. Anne O'Halloran

    I’m so pleased i happened across this post, your an absolute star. Everything is explained fully and is easy to read. I can’t thank you enough. Many things explained so even a first time sewer would be able to understand.
    Have you written a book with all this info in, I would most certainly like a copy.
    Anne x

  2. I’m a bit confused. You say in Step 2

    “Never ever use any other stitch than the straight stitch with the double needle.”
    Then in step 4 you say To make Decorative stitches
    double needle sewing

    “Use the decorative stitch options in your sewing machine to make decorative borders. Remember to make sure that the stitch width is compatible with your needle plate hole. You can experiment with colours and stitches on a scrap fabric before trying out on the final pieces.”

    This is contrary to step 2.

    Please could you explain?
    Thank you

  3. Thank you so much for this information. I am getting back into sewing after years away and I really want to try cool new ways to sew now that I have more time.

      1. Hi Sarina, I have been trying to use twin needle in my J 307 sewing machine and all the needles I used broke after hitting the shuttle underneath. What do I do, do you know about this machine, is it configured to use twin needle?

        1. Hi Abiodun
          I am afraid not. Is it a zig zag machine? It has to be for using the twin needle. Did you try moving the handwheel slowly towards you instead of using the pedal option to operate the machine to test your stitches first?

  4. This was so helpful. I have an older singer touch & sew. The book mentions the twin needle sewing but never explained how to use it.

  5. Lisa Provenzano

    Thank you so much for your concise yet info packed post! I’ve sewn for 45 years but am just now getting a twin needle for my 1960s Singer Rocketeer! Thank you again for your help in taking the mystery out of this tool!

  6. A very big BIG thank you for this post! I bought my sewing machine more than three years ago but never had the courage to use the twin needle that came with it. Just as well it seems..the manual does not mention anything about how to use it. If I hadn’t read your article I d have probably broken it , as I assumed – wrongly – one must use the zigzag setting.

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