We've been asked numerous times by Sew4Home readers, "How do you get your double rows of stitching so perfectly even?" We've quietly given out our secret to several of you. But now we've decided it's time to reveal it to the world. The way to get perfectly even, super close, double rows of stitching is... to use a twin needle. If you're one of those people who think twin needles are way too complicated, you're in for a very pleasant surprise: twice the stitching is half as hard as you might imagine!
What Is A Twin Needle?
A twin needle (also called a double needle) is basically two needles attached to a single shank. One is slightly shorter than the other so your bobbin can catch the thread from both needles. So clever that bobbin!
Twin needles come in sizes just like regular needles. But they have two number designations, one is the space between the needles and the other is the needle size. For instance, a 4/80 twin needle has 4 mm between the needles, which are size 80. The picture below shows a Janome needle pack on the left; many Janome models come standard with a twin needle. On the right is a Klasse twin needle, also a very popular brand.
There may be some limitations as to how wide a twin needle your sewing machine can take. So consult your owner's manual. Or even better, buy your twin needle from your sewing machine dealer. He/She can tell you which size will be best for your project.
A twin needle installs in your machine just like a regular needle. With the flat part of the shank toward the back, insert it into the needle hole and tighten the screw.
This may be the spot where you're saying, "Wait a minute. A twin needle needs two threads to stitch." Correct - your sewing machine is designed to feed one thread at a time. And even if it could feed two, where are you supposed to put the extra spool?
Most machines come with an extra spool pin and a hole to put it in. That's where you put your second spool. Again, consult your owner's manual to see what your extra spool pin looks like and exactly where it goes.
If your machine doesn't have an extra pin, you can use a thread stand. Or, put your spool in a coffee mug to the side of your machine. (Just make sure there's no coffee in it.)
If you want the same thread color in both needles, but you only have one spool of that color, wind some thread onto an extra bobbin. You can use this bobbin as your second spool.
Thread your machine as you normally would, one thread at a time . The most important thing is to make sure the threads don't get twisted. Some machines allow you to separate the threads at the tension disk--check your machine's manual.
The only sad part is that you can't use an automatic needle threader with a twin needle. It helps to have a hand needle threader. You can also do what I did: find someone younger with better vision to thread the needles!
Which Stitches Can I Use?
A simple straight stitch with a twin needle always looks crisp and exact. It's the one we use most in home décor sewing. However, your machine may be able to sew a zigzag or decorative stitches with a twin needle.
I used my Janome Memory Craft 11000 Special Edition for this demo, and it actually has a twin needle setting. When I select the twin needle rather than the single needle (the icon second from the left in the screen's bottom row), any stitches that cannot be used are grayed-out and cannot be selected.
You may not have this screen setting option; if so, just make sure the needles don't swing too wide. The biggest danger is that one of the needles will hit the sewing foot or needle plate and damage your machine (not to mention the eye risk of flying needle shards). Before even beginning your test stitching, use the hand wheel to take your twin needles through one full stitch cycle, making sure they're safely within the tolerances of your machine. Do some test seams on a scrap to make sure you're getting the effect you want.
Now that you know our secret for perfectly parallel lines of stitching, we hope you share it with as many other sewers as you like.