Sewing with knits is quick and fun, but have you ever wanted to get the finish of a ready-to-wear garment? If you don’t have a coverstitch machine, I can give you a hot tip: twin needles. But how do you sew with a twin needle, you say? It’s easier than you think! You’ll get a professional result that you can be proud of without having to buy an additional sewing machine. Once you go twin, you never go back to zig zagging your hems. The double line of top stitching is created with a zig zag stitch behind it, which makes it ideal for stretch fabrics.
Twin needles come in a range of sizes. You can buy a universal twin needle for sewing woven garments or a stretch twin needle for knits. A 2.0 twin needle is great for producing a small width “pin tuck” style stitch, which gives you lots of ornamental options to take your garment to the next level. A 4.0 twin needle is perfect for finishing hems on both woven and knit fabrics. There are more widths available but these two sizes will do the trick for most of your twin stitching needs. Wider twin needles are only appropriate for machines that can accommodate a wide zig zag, if you only have a narrow stitch width capability you will break your needle.
Twin needle threading explained:
Customers ask me how to thread a twin needle all the time, so I thought I’d draw some handy threading illustrations for reference.
To thread a twin needle on vertical double spool pins or a horizontal spool pin, slide spools of thread on to the pin/s ensuring each one spins off in a different direction. For most newer machines this won’t matter, but my older machines prefer it.
But how do you thread a twin needle when you have only one vertical spool pin, or a short horizontal spool pin as I see on so many newer machines? Also simple! Wind a bobbin with your thread colour and thread it on the pin as if it were another spool of thread. Again spin the thread off in different directions.
Thread the machine as normal. On my Pfaff 1222E I slip one thread below the tension disc and one above – it’s a little tip I picked up from somewhere and it has never done me wrong. If you’re having trouble with thread tangling give it a go. Treat the two threads as one then when you get to the twin needle: left spool goes into the left needle, right spool goes into the right needle.
Twin needle tips:
- Ensure your stitch is set to straight, you don’t want to start a zig zag stitch and break your needle or damage your machine.
- The bobbin itself runs a zig zag stitch between the two lines of stitching, so you must stitch from the “good side” of your garment. Some people find that the fabric “tunnels” between the stitching lines so loosen your tension just a little to alleviate this.
- In essence, you are “stitching blind” if you are hemming, so do make sure to press your hem evenly and measure the distance from your stitching line to the hem edge.
- Trim the excess hem allowance. If you’re sewing with a knit you generally don’t have to worry too much about the fabric unravelling. When I sew with wovens I overlock the raw edge before finishing the hem with a twin needle.