How to Use a Twin Needle

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Learn how to use a twin needle in a sewing machine to have two rows of perfect stitching. Use it for hems for knit fabric or woven fabric.

A great sewing skill to help your sewing look professional is knowing how to use a twin needle. It’s a simple technique, but it’s hard to master unless you have some sewing tips for using a twin needle on your sewing machine. 

I have been using a twin needle for many years, and I’ve tried everything and read every article about how to use a twin needle. These are the tips that work best for me. Let’s learn how to use a double needle!

How to Use a Twin Needle //

What is a twin needle?

A twin needle or a double needle is two sewing machine needles connected onto one shank. One needle is slightly shorter than the other needle so the bobbin can catch both threads.

A twin needles sews two lines of parallel threads while the bobbin goes back and forth in a zigzag between each stitch.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

A twin needle is a way to get the look of a coverstitched hem without using a coverstitch machine on knit fabrics.

A twin needle can also be used on woven fabrics to sew pintucks, decorative stitching, or hems. Learn more about all the basic sewing stitches you need to sew clothing.

What sewing machine can use a twin needle?

Any sewing machine can use a twin needle. They are inserted like a regular sewing machine needle. The only difference is that you need two threads on top with the bobbin thread on the bottom. I give tips and ideas for making it easier to add two threads to the top of your sewing machine later in the post.

Kinds of Twin Needles

There are lots of different kinds, sizes, and widths of twin needles.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

When looking at the information on a twin needle case it will tell you what kind of needle it is like a stretch needle or universal needle.

The case will also tell you the width between the two needles which is measured in millimeters and the size of the needle (i.e. 75, 80, 90, 100, etc.)

How to Use a Twin Needle //

Make sure you use universal twin needles for woven fabric and stretch twin needles for knit fabric. I use my stretch twin needles the most and like to have a couple extra in case the one I’m using breaks.

where to find twin needles

There are lots of different places to find different sizes of twin needles!

Joann Fabrics only has universal needles

Amazon: has all kinds of needles and free shipping

Wawak has the cheapest needles but not free shipping

  • Universal twin needles
  • Stretch twin needle

How to Use a Twin Needle

Learn about the different kinds of twin needles, the widths, and the sizes and how to recognize the differences. 

How to Use a Twin Needle //

If your sewing machine only has one spot for a spool of thread, then you can buy a spool pin* that fits right on your bobbin winder.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

Spool Image

Instead of buying two spools of thread for your twin needle, you can guy one spool and wind two bobbins. Use a bobbin as a spool of thread.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

When you thread your sewing machine the right thread will go on the right side of the thread divider and the left thread will go on the left side of the thread divider.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

When you use a twin needle then you can’t use the needle threader.

You must use a zigzag foot and a zigzag throat plate since the twin needle is wide.

Once you thread the machine, put in the sewing machine needle, slowly turn the hand wheel to see if the needle hits the sewing machine foot.

Sew with a straight stitch.

Use hem tape to stabilize the hem before sewing. This is the most important part because it prevents tunneling and your fabric from stretching out. My favorite hem tape for woven fabrics is HeatnBond Lite* and my favorite hem tape for knit fabrics is HeatnBond Soft Stretch Lite*.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

I sewed some examples of using hem tape and not using hem tape to see how hem tape makes such a difference. The top fabric is a woven, the middle fabric is swimsuit fabric, and the bottom fabric is cotton spandex jersey knit.

Each sample has hem tape applied to the top hem but not on the bottom hem, and the top hem looks much better. You can also read about three different ways to hem knit fabrics.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

Lined swimsuit fabric doesn’t need hem tape. The four layers of fabric in the hem of a swimsuit make it stable enough to not use hem tape. Also, I found it really hard to get the hem tape to adhere to the fabric with a safe, low heat. Here are some tips for sewing swimsuit fabric.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

Don’t change direction while sewing with the twin needle in the fabric. You’ll break the needles.

Leave long thread tails after sewing.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

If sewing on knit fabric stretch the hem to pull the bobbin thread into the zigzag. This prevents any breakage while wearing the item. I notice that I need to do this more on lighter weight fabrics.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

Use a seam ripper to pull all the fabric tails to the inside of the item. Tie the threads in a tight square knot and trim thread tails to 1/2″.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

Press again after sewing.

If after using all these twin needle sewing tips and you still have trouble with your threads popping, then use Eloflex stretch thread in the bobbin for just a little more stretch.

How to Use a Twin Needle //

If you make something using this tutorial, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

How to Use a Twin Needle
heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather

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Love using my twin needles. I don’t have a coverstitch, so I use it all the time for t-shirt hems. I do have an issue with threads still popping sometimes, so I will try your tip about stretching the hem before tying off the threads. I usually do just backstitch and have never had an issue with the needles breaking when I do this. Thanks for an informative post. I am so glad I learned about double needles. They really bring up the professional look of a garment without using a coverstitch.

Thanks, I will be referring to your guide when trying my twin needles.

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[…] Every Monday I like to answer your sewing questions! Feel free to ask questions in the comments or email me. Also, if you know the answer to someone’s question, go ahead and answer it. We’re here to help each other learn about sewing! I love sewing with double needles. I think it makes such a professional look. When I used them in my sewing class at college, I never had a problem with them. Well I have the same exact sewing machine model, but I have problems with the bobbin thread tunneling. On some knits you can’t see it, but on really light knits it can always be seen. I realized that the foot of my sewing machine has different heights which changes the pressure put on the fabric, and my foot was at the highest. My fabric didn’t have enough pressure on it! Now that my sewing machine foot is at the lowest height, I never have a problem with tunneling!Here’s really how to use a twin needle. […]

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