How to Sew with a Twin / Double Needle. I hope.

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Confession: I have felt like a bit of a phony for a couple of weeks now, after releasing the Sterling Shorties and Leggings pattern, the first Tie Dye Diva pattern for knit fabrics. You see, right there in the section titled “Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabric”, alongside zigzag, triple stitch, stretch stitch and coverstitch, I glibly throw in “twin needle” as an option for a nice stitch to use on knits that will stretch along with the fabric.

I have never used a twin needle.

I know!! I have excuses of course. I have a coverstitch machine and I love it. Also, I have only recently started to really enjoy sewing with knit fabric. And … OK, the 17 steps in my sewing machine manual, the forked needle, and that big prongy plastic thing kind of scared me.

No more excuses. Here I go, real time, as real time as possible on a blog, with actual photos of my actual first time using a twin needle (also known as a double needle). Fingers crossed!

I am doing this on my Brother because they are widely used, and because with 17 steps in the manual before getting to “Start sewing”, how could I go wrong?

The pre-manual step 1 for me was find the twin needle and prongy thing, which now I know is also known as the extra spool pin.

In the spirit of keeping it real, here is the bin where I throw store things like extra serger cones and sewing machine accessories that scare me a little.

Don’t judge.

Step 1, install the needle. Easy! If you look at the top portion you can see it’s just like any regular needle, with one shank and a flat side. Insert, flat side in back. Thread the machine with the top thread going through the left side like any other needle. I’m not even going to post a picture because you know what a threaded machine looks like. Steps one and two, I conquer you!

Now, put the no-longer-scary extra spool pin on the bobbin winder shaft and swing the pin around so the spool will be parallel to your top thread spool. This part varies by machine, some machines just have you stand the second thread upright on a pin. Put the spool on – important part coming up – with the thread coming from the top of the spool. This is because your regular top thread spool unwinds from the bottom, and you want them unwinding in different directions. Put the spool cap on.

My two gray threads don’t match, and that bothers me. If I had planned ahead, I might have wound a matching bobbin and put it on the extra spool pin. But I promised real time, so my threads don’t match.

Step 7 already! Thread the machine with your extra spool thread just as you did the regular top thread EXCEPT, skip the needle bar thread hook (not sure why, going to just follow this one like a sheep though. Baa.) and thread the end through the right needle. You can see the needle bar hook just above the green part of the double needle, with left thread beneath it and right thread bypassing it. On some machines (the Brother manual does not mention it) you’ll want to be sure the two threads go one to the left and one to the right of the tension disk.

Already had the correct (“J”) foot on the machine so onward to Step 10: Turn the machine on.

nailed it!

Computerized machines will vary, but I followed the instructions in the manual for scrolling through options and finding the machine’s twin needle setting, which looks like two little needles, and you can see it in the lower left of my screen. For a non-computerized machine, you’d just use center needle position, and stitch width and length as recommended by your machine’s manual and pattern.

Momentary panic set in when I looked at the stitches shown in the manual and they were all decorative and though lovely, I just wanted straight stitch.

Then it dawned on me.

Just sew a straight stitch.

I chose my sweet and familiar friend straight stitch, lengthened it just a little, andย  – deep breath – began to sew on my real and actual project.

A little wavy but not too bad.

After pressing, much better (left). And a great little stretchy lightning bolt on the reverse (right).

For the next row of twin stitches (horizontal in the photo), I troubleshot the waviness by reducing the pressure of the presser foot just a touch, and I also used a little piece of stabilizer when I started the row of stitching.

Zee’s Tee Pattern for boys and girls 12 months to 12 years

I might like to tinker with it a bit more, but the point of all of this is, it’s ridiculously easy and nothing to be afraid of. Get out your own prongy thing and give it a try!


3 thoughts on “How to Sew with a Twin / Double Needle. I hope.

  1. I'm shocked, Jen. I really am. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just have one little thing to add, though it may be in there. I have terrible attention issues and tend to skim while reading even when I am trying not to. Anyway, When doing a straight stitch, or any stitch, with your twin needle be sure to hand turn the needle through the stitch to make sure the twin needle does not hit the presser foot and break. Not that I know anything about that. I know with my machine the default stitch when the machine is first turned on is all the way to the left. A twin needle would break on the stitch. Well, maybe some super narrow twin needle would work but I am not going to test that out.
    As far as how I know, or don't know, anything about breaking a twin needle I may or may not have turned my machine on to wind a bobbin while having a twin needle in the machine. I may or may not have forgotten to move my bobbin winder over into place. I may or may not have then tried to wind the bobbin at full speed sending half a twin needle flying through the air. But, hey, I had been sewing one month, tops.

  2. Great point, Marlene, thanks for your um … hypothetical example! ๐Ÿ˜‰ That is what choosing the computerized 'twin needle' setting on this Brother machine does for me. I noted in the post that on manual machines, you'll need to use center needle position. But it is certainly worth pointing out that the whole reason for both of these is to be sure your needle passes through the foot and doesn't hit it and take out an eye! So please, do check with your handwheel before you begin.

  3. See, I knew I must have missed something! My attention is just so…hey did you see that pretty fabric?

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