Learn the Tricks of Sewing With Double Needles

How to sew with double needles/twin needles Nancy Zieman

Learn the Tricks of Sewing With Double Needles

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How to sew with double needles/twin needles Nancy ZiemanWhen sewing with knits, one of my favorite ways of hemming is using a double needle, or sometimes referred to as a twin needle. With one row of stitching, you’ll achieve two perfectly stitched lines. Or use the closely spaced double needles for heirloom sewing or the wide widths for embellishment.

Double Needle Facts

  • Double needles fit any machine where the needle is threaded front to back not side to side.
  • Common double needles sizes include: 1.6, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and 6.0.
  • The sizing refers to the distance in millimeters between the needles.
  • Size 6.0 is too wide for some machines. If the widest zigzag stitch is 4.0 on your machine, do not use a 6.0. The opening in the throat plate is not wide enough for this extra wide double needle.
  • The bobbin thread catches both top threads, resulting in a zigzag look on the fabric underside.

Sewing Tips for Double Needles

  • Use two spools of thread on the top of the machine, position them so the threads unwind in opposite directions. This prevents the threads from tangling.
  • If your machine does not have two spool pins, wind an extra bobbin and stack the bobbin with the spool on the spool pin. Again, stack them so the threads unwind in opposite directions.

   

  • Treat the two threads as one when threading the machine. At the needles, separate the threads and thread each needle.

How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy
How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy

  • Before stitching, pull the threads to the back of the machine to ensure there isn’t any twisting of the threads.

How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy

  • Double check that your machine is set at a straight stitch. A zigzag setting, for example, could cause the needles to swing beyond the presser foot opening. You know what could happen then!

How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy

  • Now, stitch! The details are all in the set-up.

How to sew with double needles/twin needles Nancy Zieman

  • The bobbin accommodates both threads. It’s rather magical!

How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy

  • Use double needles to create an embellishment.

How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy

  • To create a raised effect, slightly tighten the top tension. On the wrong side of the fabric, notice that the fabric tunnels due to the tighter thread tension.

How to sew with a double needle or a twin needles. Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy

All my favorite sewing tips are in one book.

  • The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew chapters include:

    • Sewing Notions
    • Sewing Machine Confidence
    • Serger Spotlight
    • Patterns
    • Fabric Facts
    • Sewing Basics
    • Beyond the Basics

The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew by Sewing With Nancy Zieman

Watch The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew (Part One, Part Two, and Part Threeon Sewing With Nancy online.


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35 Comments

  • Joyce
    June 11, 2016

    I’ve wanted to try a double needle, and now I don’t feel so intimidated by it. Thanks for making it seem like it’s totally do-able.

  • Marty
    June 11, 2016

    I’ve wanted to try double needles, but now I know I can’t with my current machine as it threads side-to-side…. good enough reason to buy a new machine

  • Marty
    June 11, 2016

    I’ve wanted to try double needles, but now I know I can’t with my current machine as it threads side-to-side…. good enough reason to buy a new machine

  • Mary
    June 11, 2016

    Nancy,
    I learned from you today why my double needling has a tunnel. I’ll reduce my upper tension. Always learning something from you!
    Thanks!

  • Margaret C.
    June 11, 2016

    I didn’t know about the thread on the spools unwinding in opposite directions. I was a bit hesitant at first in using them, but they work and make you feel good about adding another avenue to your show off sewing skills.

  • Melanie
    June 11, 2016

    I love using double needles. I have a problem with knits though. My hems always have a ridge between the two rows. Short of buying a cover stitch machine, what can I do to correct/prevent this?

  • BevM
    June 11, 2016

    I enjoy sewing with double/twin needles. I learned about the thread spools unwinding in opposite directions from one of the Sewing with Nancy TV programs! Besides straight stitching, I use twin needles with two colors of thread with decorative stitches, after carefully checking the maximum width.

  • Janice
    June 11, 2016

    I have learned so much from you. You have the MOST complete teaching simple style of anyone I have ever watched or read. Thank you for YOU. I record all of you tv shows and review you youtube regularly. You are my go to person.

  • Brenda Ackerman
    June 11, 2016

    I just bought a double needle and then got cold feet. LOL. But after reading this post and in a short while I will watch your video, I know I will have the confidence to use the double needle and have a great time discovering what it can do. Thank you for sharing all of your experience with us! It definitely does help a whole lot every day! Have a fantastic creative day!

  • Louise Lafontaine
    June 11, 2016

    Nancy, I’m so glad that you have been, and continue to be, a sewing icon. I have learned so many things from you over the years. I’ve watched your TV sessions which I used to tape during the day while I was at work and then I would watch them at night from my sewing room, where I could re-wind until I had the process right. The best for me was making the chest area larger when the other measurements were fine. I was a bit skeptical at first of marking, pivoting and marking again but it worked like magic. Thank you ! ! ! I haven’t ordered from you in a while but when I did, the products were received exactly as requested… Good business ethics. You are where you were meant to be. On behalf of all sewers, a very big Thank you. God bless.
    Louise from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  • Dorene Walrath
    June 12, 2016

    Thank you for another valuable sewing lesson. You are my go to person for the correct answers with precise instructions. Been using your information since I started sewing.

  • Millie
    June 12, 2016

    Nancy,
    Wondering if double needle could be used to embroider a design with fairly low density? I’m not looking to increase density, but, would like to use two colors with one overshadowing the other. I have B/L Gold.
    Thanks

  • Sandra Rutherford
    June 12, 2016

    Hi Nancy
    This is my second post I have read the first was about invisible zippers. My question for the double needle post is why do we need to do this with (I hope spandex is included) with knits?
    For the invisible zipper post I would like to know if there are tricks to adding the zipper to spandex. I make ballroom dance dresses and sometimes the zipper will buckle, or create a large fold.
    Thank you
    Sandi

  • Marian
    June 12, 2016

    Thank you Nancy, for the double needle tip. I never have been brave enough or had the time to try to figure out how to use this feature. I will use this feature now! You are awesome!

  • Linda Schenk
    June 12, 2016

    I need some advice in using my double needle that I have never seen answered. I have purchased two double needles with different widths. Sorry I do not know the millimeter sizes. The one size is the narrow size which is typical spacing used on most store bought tees and knits. I have absolutely no problems using that size, but also have a slightly wider needle which is about 1/4″ between stitches. This needle I want to use for the wider type stitching space you see on ready made knits also. When ever I try to use that needle the top side tunnels and the material does not lie flat between the stitches. It looks terrible. I have tried loosing the tension on top and it doesn’t seem to help at all. It just gives me very loose stitching. I suspect I might need to adjust the bobbin tension, but do not want to make that adjustment since it could really mess up my machine tension to where I may not be able to get it back to the tension as set by the factory. I do know that it is a touchy tension adjustment and only needs just a very slight adjustment. I never have any tension problems when it is set at automatic tension in all the years I have used this machine. I use it for my home clothing alteration business. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong so I am able to use this needle?

  • Linda Schenk
    June 12, 2016

    Maybe you can help as I have never seen an answer to my problem when using a double needle. I do home clothing alterations and my machine has an auto tension which I have never had to adjust in all the years of using this machine. I suspect my problem could be with the bobbin tension, but do not wish to adjust that very touchy tension for fear of screwing up the machine tension so badly I will not be able to get it back to its original factory setting. The problem I have is with the double needle which has approx. 1/4″ spacing. It is similar to that which is found on ready made clothing. When ever I use it the top side of the fabric tunnels up between the stitching. It looks terrible as the fabric is raised and I am unable to flatten it out even with a steam iron. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?

    • Linda G.
      June 13, 2016

      To prevent tunneling, you could try using a lighter weight paper, like tissue paper which is easier to remove than copy paper, or a wash-away stabilizer under, over, or sandwiched with your fabric, if adjusting the top tension doesn’t work. If you really think you may need to adjust the bobbin tension to flatten the double-needle stitching, and your machine has a bobbin case, you could try to purchase an additional bobbin case to make the tension adjustments. Then, you would have one “factory” bobbin case for regular sewing and one you can use for those times when you need to change the bobbin tension. Make sure you mark the cases so you don’t mix them up later. Many people find having the extra bobbin case for special sewing set-ups is helpful and it is reassuring to have the factory-set one unaltered and available to go back to afterwards.

  • Pam
    June 13, 2016

    When loosening the top tension doesn’t work, try placing a strip of stabilizer or paper under the fabric. I use regular copy paper and it works wonders. A bit of a pain to remove though.

  • Pam
    June 13, 2016

    When loosening the top tension isn’t enough to prevent tunneling, try using a strip of stabilizer or paper under the fabric. I use regular copy paper and it works perfectly. A bit of a hassle to remove it but worth the effort.

  • Donna Wilson
    June 17, 2016

    Thanks so much for this post about using double needles, Nancy. I will have to give the process a try soon, especially on hems on knits.

  • ella ruth
    June 24, 2016

    I have had a double needle for years. Yeah, for years. It came with my sewing machine. After reading your post, I am finally going to try it . Thank you so much for all your tips that help us with our sewing projects. : )

  • Nirav
    August 21, 2016

    What kind of double needle should I use for knit fabrics? Can I use universal double needle? What size? This is my first time with double needles ever.

  • Christine UK
    February 4, 2017

    Nancy thrilled with is tutorial on twin needles could you forward it to me for future reference. I keep trying with this needle. Would be good for quiltin thanks x

  • Vandana Sanjay
    May 8, 2018

    Dear Nancy, presently I am using 2.0 twin needle with my Brother LX27NT sewing machine with width 3 and upper thread tension 4. But I don’t know how much width & tension , I should set for 3.0 and 4.0 twin needles. Maximum tension is 9. Width 5 and length is 4. Please help me out with this.

  • Bridgett Pilgrim
    September 26, 2019

    I cant get my twin needle to sew on spandex. It works on other fabric. I want to top stitch my grand daughters leotards.

  • Annette Landsness
    September 7, 2020

    I have yet to see an answer to this problem. I have been twin needling on double-knit fabric for granddaughter. Looks GREAT when done. However, twice now, her mom brings the shorts back after washing with stitching coming out!! What is wrong?? Is this a tension thing??

    • Pam
      September 7, 2020

      Annette, how are you securing the ends of the stitching? Since you can’t backstitch with a twin needle, you have to tie the threads off…or stitch in place or overstitch for a few stitches.

  • Carl West, Blacksmith
    October 5, 2020

    Your milage might vary, but I’ve found I can zig-zag *some* with a twin needle, but it’s vital to check very gently by hand that you’re not trying to go too wide.

    It turns out that the slot in the zig-zag foot on my Sears Kenmore is a good indicator of how wide I can go.

    Interesting color and texture effects are possible.

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