Updated on September 13, 2022 by Sarina

A twin needle or double needle is a very disused accessory; everyone has it in their sewing kitty, but not many use it. This post is about the best ways to do double-needle stitching with double needles.

twin needles in different sizes

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 Stitching

What is a double needle ?

Double-needle/twin needle is a needle with a single shank and two shafts. The two-needle shafts have an eye, each through which two threads are threaded. 

As you proceed with the double stitching or twin needle 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

you need 2 thread spools and 2 pins to keep them on the machine to do double stitching

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. 

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.

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.

Related posts : Decorative stitches on your sewing machine. 

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

pintucks

 

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 :Different types of sewing machine needles; Learning to sew -tips.; Sewing machine feet guide ; Decorative stitching with normal sewing machine

Some more questions on twin needles

What are the disadvatages of using the twin needles for Double needle stitching?

Twin needle uses a sort of a chain stitch on the back of the fabric to connect the two straight lines on the front. 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 is considered superior to a double needle seam because of its finish and strength. So if you want a strong seam this is not the one you need to use. The stitches might cave in if you do not get the tension right.

twin needles stitching

What to do about the tunnelling between the stitches?

Many people consider the slight ridge (upper projection of fabric) created between the stitching lines, great texture and leave it at that. But if you do not like that texture and you want smooth surface between the stitches, there are some precautions you can take. Twin needles work best when there is not much stretch in the fabric – woven fabrics are the best. But that doesnot mean that they cannot be used with knits – infact using them for hemming knit clothes works very well. If you are using stretchy fabrics, stretch them slightly as you sew them or use a fusible he, tape or washaway stabiliser or tissue paper underneath to stabilise the fabric. You can also try using a stretchy thread in your bobbin. And try using a longer stitch length. Also if your bobbin case allows, loosen the tension. Check out this post on using the twin needle to make a coverstitch like hem.

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  1. Suddenly, Corrected article read, I am no longer confused. Thank you. And to clarify some needles have 2 eyes on 1 needle. I believe singer 401 could use 2 single needles, put a needle in machine 2 times. Not 2 needles on one shank and installed at same time.Then thread each needle as if it were a twin needle. It has been many years since I used these machines (over 50).

  2. This is 6-6-22, and I am also confused regarding what stitches can use. I don’t know if can only use twin needle for straight stitches, or if decorative zig zag stitches can be used. The article says different things, one place only straight stitches mentioned, then another discusses using zig zag decorative stitches. So which is it? only straight stitches, or can use zig zag /decorative ones if width fits hole size? Thank you

  3. 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

      1. She is right you know. You are VERY good at this. I know books are old fashioned these days, but just as we tell machine makers, we NEED our manuals in print AT our machines, not online. You should definitely consider writing a book. A sewguide next to the machine would be so welcome. I hate having to start up my iPad and tap, tap, tap just to get info.
        Good job, thanks for the article.

        1. Hi Sara,
          Thanks for the nice comment. I also like books but online content can be updated so many times without any additional cost (and correct all the mistakes I make 🙂 ) and you have the search button. Cheers

  4. 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

  5. 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?

        2. Abiodun, Does your bobbin system load on right side of machine? You can only use twin, needles If thread needle front to back. Some of older Singer slant machines 401 etc. can use double (needles (2 eyes) not 2 needles. Hope this helps others.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.