Wednesday, 10 July 2013

How to use your twin needle

**Edit: there's some invaluable twin needle advice coming through in the comments!**

Remember my metallic Briar I made not so long ago? Well, despite my long-standing flirtation with jersey fabric, that project was the first time I used my twin needle. I was really impressed with the professional finish it produced, so why did it take me so long to have a go? Because trying new things is sometimes scary, especially when you're not sure how involved they might be. Like most things we procrastinate about though, using a twin needle is surprisingly easy, so I figured I'd share some tips to encourage you to give it a go as well.

I use a Brother Innovis 10A - generously gifted to me by Bamber Sewing Machines - which already came with the accessories I needed: twin needle, zigzag foot and extra spool pin. I'm sure these can all be bought separately if necessary though. Different machines may vary regarding some of the steps I'm sharing below, so if in doubt, do have a quick look at your instruction manual.

Twin needle


Zigzag foot


Step 1: Replace your regular needle with the twin needle - this is exactly the same principle as changing any needle - and attach your zigzag foot.

Step 2: Thread the left needle as you would normally thread any needle, using your regular upper thread.


Step 3: Place your extra spool pin onto the bobbin winder shaft and top with your second spool of thread.

 


Your machine should now look like this, with the two spools of thread and a twin needle in place.



Step 4: Thread the right needle using your extra spool of thread. Again, thread it in the same way you would a normal needle, but don't pass the thread through the needle bar thread guide this time.

Step 5: Go ahead and start sewing - it's as easy as that! Below I've demonstrated what a zigzag and a straight stitch look like. Pretty neat, no? I used a regular stitch length and tension for this medium weight scrap of jersey, but you may need to experiment with both depending on the thickness and texture of your fabric.


I hope this is helpful to twin needle virgins out there, but if you're a twin needle pro please do chip in with any further advice!

53 comments:

  1. 1. One important thing is to make sure the width of the needle is right for your machine- the spacing between the needles should be no wider than the widest zigzag setting your machine is capable of or you can damage the throat plate and bobbin case. Your manual might tell you how wide this is, but if in doubt run a piece of paper through your machine (with no thread in) on the widest zigzag, with a short stitch length. You can then measure the width of the zigzag or take the paper with you when you go to buy the needle and compare it.

    2. Sometimes the bobbin thread may pull too tightly between the two rows of top thread and cause tunnelling- when you get a bump between the two top rows of stitching as the bobbin thread pulls them inwards. Normally loosening the bobbin tension corrects this, but on lightweight fabrics sewing with a piece of tissue paper on the bottom can help stabilise it.

    3. Some machines, particularly older models like my Singer 348, can actually take two normal needles in the needle clamp, so no need to buy an expensive twin needle! Check your manuals folks!

    As you can probably guess, I like to sew with double needles! Gives a much cleaner finish than zigzagging on hems and necklines.

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    1. Thanks so much for chipping in with this Ginny! Invaluable advice here!

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  2. Thanks so much for this Marie! I've always liked the look of it but been too scared to give it a go as I just didn't understand how it could work (TWO needles and spools?!) but just reading this has made it seem simple. I need to buy a twin needle now...

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    1. I was exactly the same Fiona, glad this has inspired you ;o)

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  3. Now that's how easy using a twin needle should be. I too recently sewed a Briar - I spent over 2 hours to get it to work properly as it kept skipping stitiches. In the end, I had one bobbin running clockwise, the other anticlockwise and I found I had to use a Universal rather than a Stretch twin needle.
    My machine now isn't working properly at all - so I'm wondering if that possibly had more to do with my troubles :-)

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    1. Oh gosh, hope you get your machine sorted soon and that you have another go at using your twin needle. Good luck!

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  4. Great post m'dear. Only one thing to add. My local sewing machine repair shop told me there are a variety of sized twin needles but you're not varying the size of each needle, but instead its the distance between the needles that increases so your two rows are more spaced out. Cool huh?

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    1. Thanks for this Amy, I had no idea! Very cool indeed!

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  5. I definitely wouldn't call myself a twin needle pro, but I would say that when you're using a twin needle to make sure that the right side of your fabric is facing up since the zig-zag stitch comes out bobbin-side and the 2 rows of stitching come out upper thread-side. I only mention it because I know when I sew hems that I usually have the inside of the hem facing up and the bobbin thread actually ends up on the outside of the garment hem.

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    1. Oooh yes, very good point! Thank you ;o)

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  6. I have a Singer Rumina and religiously test twin needle stitches on scraps first... most fabrics recieve the twin needle stitching better if I lengthen the stitches to 3.5 or 4. Also sewing slowly can avoid skipped stitches so no racing for the finishline even on long straight sections!

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  7. as fate would have it, have just bought a new machine and a twin needle (fortunately, the machine already accomodates two spools). Your post came at the right moment, and I really appreciate it!
    www.craftseverywhere.blogspot.com

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    1. Fab, let me know how you get on!

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  8. Hi, Marie, thanks for this! I am thinking of buying a twin needle for my machine, so this and all the other tips will come in very handy when i take the plunge!

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  9. Twin Needles are my best friend!

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  10. Thanks for this. I always wondered how it would work, but never bothered to look it up - and as I have the exact same machine as you, you've saved me the bother. Perfect and thank you! Just need to actually sew some jersey now...

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    1. Really pleased it's useful, don't be scared of jersey...it's not that tricky ;o)

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  11. Another tip for sewing with twin needles, ONLY BACKSTITCH BY HAND! I've too many times made the mistake of backstitching by foot, so to speak, and I've broken so many twin needles doing this. And they don't come cheap...

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    1. Oooh, thanks Johanna...top tip!

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  12. how funny - ive just pulled my twin needles out today & taken a deep breath before giving it a go. ive had these darn things for years & never used them. {those days are over}! thanks for the tut x

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  13. Thanks for this-- I've only tried using a twin needle once, and it was a disaster! I'll definitely try it again with these tips, because I do like the finished look of it.

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    1. Oh dear, hope it works out better for you next time! There's some excellent advice in the comments ;o)

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  14. So silly, but I've been afraid to try my twin needle! This makes it seem so straightforward-- thanks for sharing!

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  15. Wait... So does this mean ANY machine can use a twin needle? I've been holding back trying anything because I thought I needed a more advanced machine, but now I'm inclined to get an extra spool pin and twin needle and give it a go!

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    1. Hmmm, not sure if any machine can! I would definitely make sure your make and model has a twin needle function before investing...

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  16. I've never actually tried doing a twin zig zag stitch but that looks pretty cool!

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    1. I don't know if you're supposed to, but it worked for me...hehe!

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  17. Hmmm... I never thought of using it for a twin zig zag stitch...[runs off to test it out]

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    1. Please don't blame me if it doesn't work...I just tried it out on a whim and it seemed to work ok!

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  18. Cool! thanks for the tip. I had heard of it but never actually got around to trying it. One more thing in my sewing toolbox!

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    1. There's always so many new techniques to try out!

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  19. I did not know they existed, I might give it a go one day. I do like the look of it.

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    1. You learn something new every day ;o)

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  20. Ah thanks so much for this! I've had hit and miss results with twin needles, and just the other day I gave up in frustration, mainly because of bobbin tension issues. You have some really good tips here - and you have the same sewing machine as me. I just went and had a look and it turns out I do have a spare spool pin - how did I miss that?! Thanks again, off to have another go...

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    1. Good luck Emily, hope it works better for you now!

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  21. thank you for this! I tried using my twin needle and it ended up breaking in action as it hit the presser foot. Not sure what I did wrong except maybe not checking the stitch width...i shall try again!

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    1. Yes, do definitely check the stitch width, hope you have better luck next time!

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  22. I think I need to invest in a twin needle now that I am foraying into the world of sewing with knits! Your examples look so clean and finished!

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  23. Here's another tip.

    When working with a twin needle for the first time, I asked for a second spool in the same colour. My sewing teacher told me that it wasn't necessary to buy a second spool, especially when you have to use little thread (I used the needle to hem a long-sleeved shirt).

    She suggested I winded a second bobbin and put it onto the spool pin. This worked just as well.

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  24. Awesome post Marie! You've almost convinced me to have a go (I've got some residual fear surrounding twin needles!) xx

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  25. Hello! Thanks for this - excellent advice both in your post and the comments. I used to own an old Toyota, and used double needles often. I treated myself to a lovely new Janome a few years ago, however - and it hates twins! I just cannot get on with a double needle at all on it, and I can't find any advice. I can't ask the dealer, either, as I bought it on the net. I'll try again, using your tips. Wish me luck! thanks again x

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  26. I sew with an old Nelco zig zag machine. My needles insert with flat side facing right. Would I be able to use a twin needle? Manual doesn't address double needles.

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  27. Thank goodness someone pinned this on Pinterest! I've always loved the look, but have been to afraid to try. This blogpost and comments are super. Thank you sew much:)

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  28. Don't forget to change the stitch plate to one that you would use with a zig zag. Your straight stitch plate will not work for this!

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  29. Mine doesnt like to work with twins :(
    one line will be lively and the second will do like 3 stitches then not do anything then do another couple

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  30. Why has it taken me 15 years of sewing to discover a twin needle?!? Thank you, great blog, hemming everything in sight now :-)

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  31. My twin needle worked great the first time but the second time I set it up the right hand side dosn't catch the bobin thread, please help what am I doing wrong

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  32. Got my twin needle and gave it a go - stupid me forgot to check the tension after my last project! Doh! Lots of excess threads underneath, rectified that and started unpicking as it was expensive fabric and foe - don't want to have to pay for extra as its only for a practice swim nappy for my little boy and don't want to keep paying out for practice fabric, as soon as I've unpicked the rest of the thread will try again x

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  33. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong- but I don't get a zigzag on the back with mine, just a straight line. Hmmm...

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