We recently started hosting Q&A vlogs, which have been hugely popular and a great way to interact with our lovely customers and followers. It has also increased our awareness of what you would like to learn more about hence today's blog article on sewing with a twin needle. In this article we'll take you through twin needle basics and look at trouble shooting when you don't quite get the results you're looking for.
When to Use a Twin Needle
Twin needles can be used to create parallel and decorative stitches on a whole host of fabrics. They are most commonly used on the hems of knit and jersey fabrics to create a professional finish.
If you look on your shop bought knit garment hems you will notice the parallel lines of stitching. These are usually created on a coverstitch machine on shop bought items, but you can recreate the look with a twin needle.
You can tell this shop bought item has been hemmed on a coverstitch machine because the wrong side has an overlocked edge as opposed to a zig zag stitch created by a twin needle.
Using a twin needle also helps to prevent the stitches from breaking thanks to the zig zag stitches created on the wrong side of the fabric. This is particularly important with fabrics that stretch as you put them on/take them off/wear them hence the use for knit and jersey fabrics.
Types of Twin Needle
The first thing to consider is the size of twin needle you would like to use. As with normal sewing machine needles twin needles come in different sizes. We stock 75s, 80s, 90s and 100s. The size here indicates the size of the eye of the needle with 100 being the biggest and 75 being the smallest. The type of thread you are using dictates which size you need. Thicker thread requires a larger eye.
In addition to the needle size there is also variation in the gap between needles. For our twin needles the gaps range from 1.6mm to 6mm. How big you want the gap is partly down to personal preference, but the needle also needs to fit inside the presser foot opening and the zig zag throat plate opening of your sewing machine. Your user manual should indicate which presser foot to use for a twin needle and it is usually the zig zag foot for most machines.
In addition to differing sizes there are different types of twin needle for different types of fabric. We stock universal, ball point, stretch, jeans, embroidery and metafil twin needles. You can find detailed information on which needle types to use with which fabrics here.
Threading a Sewing Machine for a Twin Needle
To thread your sewing machine for a twin needle first thread the machine in the normal way.
Next place a second reel of thread on the second spool pin if your machine has one. If not you can use the bobbin winding pin or an accessory spool stand.
Thread the second reel in the normal way passing the thread through the eye of the remaining needle. However, do not pass this thread through the final thread guide at the needle bar. One of the threads should be passed through this thread guide, but the other one shouldn't. This helps to prevent the threads from tangling as does threading them separately.
Sewing with a Twin Needle
As always test the stitching on a scrap of the fabric you will be using before sewing the real thing.
Press your hem into place in the usual way and pin from the right side of the fabric.
Position your hem right side up under the presser foot. Ideally the left hand needle should just catch the edge of the hem as you sew and the right hand needle will fall within the hem. If you can get the positioning spot on it will neaten the raw edge. However, don't worry if you don't - the raw edges of knit and jersey fabrics don't need to be neatened and you can always trim off any excess.
Sew with a straight stitch and you will find two neat rows of parallel stitching on the right side of the fabric and a neat zig zag stitch on the wrong side of the fabric.
Twin Needle Trouble Shooting
A common problem experienced with twin needle stitching is a tunneling effect. In other words the fabric between the two lines of stitching is raised. Try adjusting your stitch length and needle tension and testing on scraps of fabric until you are happy with the results.
Some advice will tell you to alter the bobbin tension to get better results with twin needle stitching. However, we never recommend altering your bobbin tension. If you do decide to give this a try it is best to have a spare bobbin case, which you keep set at the standard tension so you can always get back to the original setting.
If you are still struggling with tunneling using a stabiliser can also help. Place a washaway or tearaway stabilier under the fabric as you stitch then remove accordingly once finished. If using a tearaway stabiliser take care not to stretch the fabric when removing the stabiliser.
Sometimes people experience problems with twin needle stitches 'popping'. In this case you can try sewing with a very small zig zag stitch when using your twin needle. It is important to test it out first on scraps and turn the wheel by hand to make sure the stitch will fit inside the zig zag foot gap.
If you sew a lot of knit and jersey fabrics it might be worth considering a coverstitch machine. They are not necessary, but if you have the budget and can justify it they make hemming knits a doddle! We have a great range here and are more than happy to offer before and after sales advice and guidance. I mean that would involve talking about sewing right? AKA our favourite thing!
Have fun sewing!
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