How to use a twin needle on a sewing machine

How to use a twin needle on a sewing machine

Gone are the times of using a zig-zag stitch to hem your knit garment! If you haven't discovered the magical world of twin needles - today is your lucky day. Twin needles are fabulous, and your ticket to having a beautifully finished garment. The best bit, you don't need to hurt the hip pocket and buy something crazy expensive like a coverstitch machine.

In fact, twin needles are rather inexpensive and can be used on any regular sewing machine that has a zig-zag stitch functionality. Sewing with a twin needle will produce a zig-zag stitch on the underside of your garment and on the top a nice clean double stitch. If you take a look at most of your ready-to-wear clothing, it will be finished similarly. While ready-to-wear clothing is manufactured with a coverstitch machine, you can recreate this look easily with your sewing machine and some twin needles.

For the construction of the garment you will still need to use a zig-zag stitch or lightning bolt. But for hems and finishing a twin needle is the perfect option at a low budget. 


The professional finish a twin needle aside, I love that it still allows the fabric to stretch. This is so important, argh, there is nothing worse than trying to put a top on a hearing those threads SNAP.


Twin needles come in a variety of needle sizes and types - that is a whole blog post in itself. But for this blog post let's just say we are doing a medium weight stretch fabric, like French terry or waffle. I would therefore suggest a Schmetz Stretch Twin Needle 2.5mm. needle size NM 75. It is important to use a stretch needle if using a stretch fabric, as the special eye section and shape help prevent skipped stitches. The 2.5mm refers to the distance between the needles, I like to use a 2.5mm on children's clothing. You may prefer more distance between your stitches though, if so go a 4.0mm.


So, how do I use a twin needle you may be thinking? Well, follow these steps below and you will be twin needling like a pro in no time!


1) Replace your standard sewing machine needle with a twin one. I am hoping you already know how to do this easily, as needles should be replaced every 8 hours or so to keep your stitches looking suburb. If you don't know how to swap over your needles, it is time to dig out your manual! But most can be changed by unscrewing the bolt right next to your needles. The top shank of the needle will slot up into a hole and then be held in place by the screw.


2) If you have a zig-zag foot, I suggest swapping over your machine foot to that as well. A zig-zag foot will have a wider opening to accommodate the twin needles. If you don't have a zig-zag foot, don't stress. I just use my normal foot to be honest, namely as I can't be bothered finding my other machine foots in my messy sewing kit. Just be super careful on the positioning of the needles so they don't hit your machine foot, as this will cause them to snap. Been there, done that (this week to tell the truth, sewing in a rush is never a good idea! Before you start sewing just use the hand wheel to lower your needles and ensure they don't hit your foot. Better to check now than snap your brand new needles!


3) Check your bobbin thread is nice and full. You don't need to do anything different here, I am just reminding you as no one likes to start a project and discover they have been sewing nothing.


4) Using your a spool of thread, thread the sewing machine as normal but pass the thread through the left eye on the twin needle.


5) Your machine should have somewhere you can put a second spool of thread. Fish out the little bag of bits and bobs your machine came with, hopefully in there is a second plastic stick to hold your spool of thread. If not, improvise! Thread the second reel of thread as normal too, but pass through the right eye on the twin needle. I didn't have a second spool of white thread at home..... silly as I sell them at Melco and have boxes of thread at the warehouse. I made do and just used a bobbin for my second thread. 


5) Now, with twin needles you want to sew on the RIGHT side of your garment. You may want to overlock the hem of your garment prior. But if you don't have an overlocker, don't stress. Stretch fabric doesn't fray anyway. I like to pin up my hem, folding the fabric towards the WRONG side of the garment twice. However, when I do this I put the pins on the RIGHT side of the fabric. This makes it easier to pull the pins out as you sew, and well, you can see what you are doing - which always helps! I have just used a scrap piece of fabric for demonstration purposes below. 

Above is the right side of the fabric (pinned on top)

Above is the WRONG side of the fabric. 


6) Have your machine set to straight stitch. It may seem a little strange right now, but don't fear, it will still do the zig-zag stitch on the bottom side. I suggest to have a play around with your stitch length before getting started on your actual sewing project. I set my machine to 4 width and 3.5 length. I find this setting works well for most fabrics and I don't get "tunneling". If you find the stitches aren't sitting nicely, or your fabric doesn't have stretch in the stitches, adjust your settings. When it is on the right stitch lengths and machine tensions, you should be able to stretch the stitches and have no resistance.

Picture above is the right side of the garment. Looks lovely doesn't it! 

 

Pictured above is the wrong side of the fabric - see a zig-zag stitch! 

I love twin needling THAT MUCH I have my old cheap Singer machine permanently set up with twin needles. If you are thinking of upgrading your sewing machine in the not-so-distant future, don't sell the old one for peanuts on Facebook. Have it as a dedicated twin needling beast! You won't regret it.


If you have been intimidated by twin needles in the past, please don't be! They are honestly so simple and easy to do, once you start you won't ever want to stop - and the sight of a zig-zag hem will make you shudder in disgust. 


If you have any questions or anything I have not covered, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to assist you in your sewing adventure.


Happy sewing!
Cheers,
Mel

5 comments

Hi Val,

Wow you have been sewing a long time – that is fantastic, a life full of creativity! French terry is such a lovely fabric to sew with, and I find easy to handle as it doesn’t frey. I am sure you would do a fantastic job creating your own clothing. With every sewing project you’re developing your skills as well.

If there are any other blogs posts you would be interested in, please let me know. I am always hunting for new ideas that will interest people so I am not writing into the wind :)

Of course, my inbox is always open as well if you are after some tips, or a chat!

Have a lovely evening,
Mel

Mel - Melco Fabrics

Hi Noeleen,

I am so glad you now feel confident to give it a go! Twin needles are definitely not as scary as one assumes. Be brave! I would love to hear how you go, if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to send me an email at hello@melcofabrics.com.au

Happy Sewing. Cheers, Mel
Mel - Melco Fabrics

Thank you ! You have explained it all so clearly that I feel really a bit silly for not having understood the way to use a twin needle before this.
I have been sewing for many, many years and for at least 40 of those years I have had a machine that could be used with a twin needle but didn’t know how to use it. I haven’t made clothing for a long time and just altered purchased garments, mended etc. until my machine died. I thought I could manage without one but have recently bought a new very basic machine, simply because I can’t buy suitable clothing for my age and life-style.
This information is a wonderfully encouraging so that I feel able to sew with fabric I had assumed I would need an overlocker for.
In fact I recently intended ordering some French Terry when you had a special offer but I didn’t complete the order, thinking I wouldn’t be able to make a good enough job of it. I might now just have the courage to try.

Val Hadfield

Thank you ! You have explained it all so clearly that I feel really a bit silly for not having understood the way to use a twin needle before this.
I have been sewing for many, many years and for at least 40 of those years I have had a machine that could be used with a twin needle but didn’t know how to use it. I haven’t made clothing for a long time and just altered purchased garments, mended etc. until my machine died. I thought I could manage without one but have recently bought a new very basic machine, simply because I can’t buy suitable clothing for my age and life-style.
This information is a wonderfully encouraging so that I feel able to sew with fabric I had assumed I would need an overlocker for.
In fact I recently intended ordering some French Terry when you had a special offer but I didn’t complete the order, thinking I wouldn’t be able to make a good enough job of it. I might now just have the courage to try.

Val Hadfield

Thank you Mel.
I now know how to do this without fear..oh and joy ,my order of Melco fabrics is awaiting .

Noeleen Trueman

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