I have a love hate relationship with twin needles. They make hemming garments look so much more professional but I go on a break for awhile after I use them because I come close to throwing out the twin needles and buying a cover-stitch machine instead. Tangles, jams, and skipped stitches make me want to pull out my hair.
Maybe you are with me, or maybe you are too scared to even try using one. I knew using a twin needles shouldn’t yield so much anger or be scary. Instead of ignoring it, take the time to learn how to use it. I know first hand how easy it is to be excited about a project and not take the time to learn to do a technique right. Let me assure you, it is worth it and saves so many headaches. Here is the lowdown on double needles.
What you will need:
A double needle (jersey if you are using it on knits)
Two spools of thread (or one spool and one bobin)
One horizontal spool holder, or two spots for spools. If you don’t have two, you can use the bobin winder, or tape a dowel rod to the side of your machine. In my method, I prefer using a bobbin and a normal spool on the horizontal spool holder on my machine. That is the way I will walk you through it, but other ways call for two spool holders.
- Pay attention to the width of the needle. Some may be too wide to fit in your pressure foot.
- Use a long straight stitch (around 4), not zig zag.
- Thread the machine right. Insert your double needle. There are two needles, but one shaft, so just insert it like your normal needle! I place both of my thread spools (one spool, one bobin) together on my horizontal spool holder. I arrange them so the thread comes off the spool in opposite directions. This helps keep them from tangling as they unravel. I like to thread mine at the same time, keeping them separated by a little between my fingers. One of the threads goes behind the last guide, the second goes in front of it. Thread the needles. Bring the bobbin thread up like you would a normal needle. (see below for pictures and a video)
- Hold the threads taut when you start sewing. If you don’t hold your threads at the beginning of sewing, the machine can pull your threads all crazy like and form tangles or jams.
- Press your hem really good. Sew on the RIGHT side of the fabric. Pay attention to your hem depth and sew a tiny bit less that that using your seam allowance guides. You can use your left hand to feel the seam as you sew. Every now and then I flip over the fabric to make sure I am catching the raw edge.
- Use high quality thread. I recommend this for normal sewing too, but definitely sewing with a double needle, specifically jersey. I find that my needle frays my thread (even brand new ones) if I use a cheap thread.
- Try new things. I have seen so many tutorials on threading at the same time, or threading separately, having the thread wind the opposite direction, or make sure it winds the same direction. Obviously many people have different experiences. There probably isn’t a one solution fixes all. It depends on your machine, what type of thread you have, etc. So experiment on scrap fabric until you are happy with the results! I promise, taking the time to master this skill will save you time and frustration in the end!
Make sure your thread is unwinding in opposite directions as pictured above to prevent tangling. (Bobbin comes over, spool comes from under).
Thread the machine as normal with both threads, keeping them separated between your fingers.
Other thoughts on double needles:
I have read many places that say don’t backstitch. Instead leave a long tail. When you are done sewing, thread the needle (two threads a a time) with your tail, and bring the tail through to the back side. From there tie a knot to secure. I tried that, but I honestly am a little too lazy to go through all that work. I have found that as long as my stitch length is longer, if I backstitch 1 or 2 times, it doesn’t seems to effect it. Play around with your machine and see what works. Maybe you will need to tie off your thread.
Double Needle Video: