Can You Use a Double Needle on Any Sewing Machine?

Image of a twin needle, but Can You Use a Double Needle on Any Sewing MachineTwin needle, also known as the double needle, remains one of the most disused accessories amongst professionals and DIYers in the sewing industry. The fear of changing the needle and using the double needle explains why many avoid this fantastic accessory. It comes with so much versatility; one question, however, is, can you use a double-needle on any sewing machine?

You can only use a double-needle on sewing machines that can sew both zig zag and straight stitches. If a sewing machine sews only straight stitches, you must have a foot with a wide enough opening; otherwise, you cannot use a double needle.

Double needles are 2 needles joined with one shank at the top. As long as you are confident about your sewing knits and have a record of outstanding results, this needle will open your world to a whole new dimension. Other uses of this needle include pin tucking plus other decorative roles in woven fabrics.

If you have taken a keen look at most of the t-shirts that you have worn over the years, you might have noticed 2 neat, parallel rows of stitching on sleeves forming the hems, if you have never thought of checking that, please do now. As much as these stitches on your t-shirts are done using a commercial cover stitch machine, using a double needle and your regular sewing machine can give you nearly identical stitches!

When Can You Use a Double Needle?

The twin needle is employed when you want to do decorative stitches on woven fabric, to produce two parallel stitch lines on fabrics, to make pintucks, when stitching on knit fabric or stretchy material, for sewing seams on thin or lightweight fabric.

The twin needle is the best for sewing pintucks as it’s time-saving and makes the pintucks appear neat; the time-saving aspect is because the double-needle sews two parallel lines in one go. If you use a normal single needle for pintucks, you’ll only stitch a single line at a time, which is time-wasting and tedious.

For stretch fabrics, the zigzag stitch pattern produced by the bobbin underneath gives room for the threads to stretch along with the fabric so that they won’t snap.

You can also use a double needle to sew in seams on light or fine fabric; it helps to prevent bulk on the seams of lightweight workpieces.

Lastly, a double-needle is used to affix ribbons on fabric; the ribbon has to be slightly wider than the space between the two needles for this to be effective.

How To Insert Twin Needle

For the double-needle to work perfectly, you need to clamp it onto the sewing machine in the correct manner. If the twin needle is wrongly hooked on the machine, your stitching will be erroneous, you will damage the fabric, and the double-needle might also break. Here’s a guide on how to put in a twin needle. Before you begin, turn off your machine as a safety measure!

Just like the common needle, the double-needle has a rounded side and a flat side on its shank; the flat side is the back while the rounded side is the front of the needle.

Lodge the needle up into the needle bar as high as it can get and tighten the lever by hand so that the needle is held firm into the machine. It’s that simple, your sewing machine is now ready for threading.

How Do You Thread a Double Needle?

When using a double/twin needle, the sewing machine will have two spool threads on the top; this means your sewing machine will have two spool pins. It’s vital to get the threading right so that the spool threads don’t get tangled when sewing; the threads have to remain separated throughout the sewing process.

Threads are usually wound on spools in two ways: the stacked thread method and the cross-wound thread. A stacked thread is an arrangement where the thread is wound sitting on top of itself around the spool. A cross-wound arrangement has the thread zigzagging up and down the spool.

The cross-wound thread is the best when using a twin needle and its convenience is that it doesn’t get caught up on the ends of the spool when stitching. If your spools have only stacked threads, I’ve got you covered as well; position the spool such that the thread is coming out at a right angle so it won’t catch on the spool ends.

When using the cross-wound thread, make sure it is coming off the spool in the direction that your manual recommends.

When threading the machine for a double-needle, handle one thread at a time. Each thread must stay on the same side right from the spool to the eye of the needle and beyond. You have to track and remember which thread is on the right side and which thread is on the right side; the left-hand thread is for the left-hand needle while the right-hand thread is for the right-hand needle. Hold the threads firmly when guiding them through the machine and be keen to not get them twisted.

When you get to the twin needles, I advise you to thread it with the presser foot down and the machine turned off for safety. Thread the double needles from the front to the back and when done, raise the presser foot again so you can guide the threads towards the side or back of the sewing machine.

That’s all, you can now begin sewing.

How To Sew Using a Double Needle

A double needle (also, twin needle) is a fantastic tool for sewing knit garments. You can use it for pant leg hem, top, sleeves, and the making of skirts. You will find the double-needle stitch much more flexible compared to a regular straight stitch. It, therefore, means that no popped threads when you unintentionally stretch the hem too much.

In most cases, this tool is for hems and not for sewing the seams. Below are some of the essential tips that will help you sew stretch fabrics (seams included).

I’m going to guide you through the steps of sewing using a double-needle and any other sewing machine that can make zig-zag stitches.

Steps to Sewing a Professional Double-Needle Hem

If you serge the edge first, you’ll end up with a finished hem that is very similar to a coverstitch hem. However, serging might not even be necessary considering that knit fabrics do wear out on the edge. The difference between a coverstitch hem and a twin needle hem is the pattern of the threading on the underside of the sewn fabric, but the top stitch patterns are identical. 

Follow the following steps for the professional double-needle hem:

  • Step One: Prepare Your Edge

If you like, you can serge the bottom and then press the hem as you wish.

  • Step Two: Prepare Your Sewing Machine

In this step, you should have two spools of thread plus two spool holders. If your sewing machine has no two spool holders by chance, you can tape a straw vertically next to the first spool holders; this helps you create a temporary one. Alternatively, a free-standing thread holder could be of great use.

Have a twin needle installed in your sewing machine, then thread the machine, as usual, using the first spool of thread, then insert it into the needle on the right.

After inserting the first spool, thread the second spool as you did in the first case. Insert the second thread into the needle on the left.

Step Three: Test Your Stitches on a Scrap of Fabric

Go for a straight stitch. I prefer lengthening my stitch to 3 for knit fabrics. Backstitching is okay if with a twin needle. You must not necessarily stretch your fabric as you go.

Step Four: Sew Your Double Needle Hem.

All you need to do at this point is to press the hem on fabric and sew it strategically.

What Stitch Do You Use For Twin Needle?

The most commonly used stitch pattern for a twin needle is the straight stitch; often for home decor. However, most modern sewing machines can sew a zig-zag and decorative stitches using the double needle. You can choose to use different thread colors to give your stitch patterns a visual appeal.

For straight stitching using the double needle, the stitch pattern on top of the fabric will be different from the pattern on the underside. The top-stitched side will have two parallel thread lines, while the underside will have a zig-zag pattern; this is because there is only one bobbin thread that zig-zags between the two rows of the top threads.

What Sizes Do Double Needles Come In?

The twin needles are measured using two numbers. The first number represents the distance between the two needles measured in metrics like 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.0mm, 4.0mm, etc. The second number does represent the thickness of the two needles. Needle thickness measures the diameter of the needles; the smallest or thinnest size is 75, while the thickest size is 100. Size 80 is meant for metallic threads, while the sizes 80, 90, and 100 are embroidery or universal twin needles. So if placed together in a package, you’ll have a reading like 2.0/80. You interpret such a reading as 2 millimeters wide with each needle’s size being 80.

How Do You Stop Double Needle From Tunneling?

Tunneling is when the thread on the backside of the fabric pulls tightly together thus creating a bump between the parallel top stitch lines. The thinner the fabric, the higher the likelihood of tunneling. Another cause of tunneling is high tension on the spool thread and the bobbin thread. You can prevent tunneling in two ways, ie, by setting the spool thread and the bobbin thread to low tension or by using a thicker fabric.

What Foot Do You Use With a Twin Needle?

Most sewists and quilters use a standard presser foot that can execute a zig-zag stitch, but the most ideal presser foot for a double-needle is the zig-zag foot. The main factor that determines whether a presser foot can be used for a double-needle or not is the size of its opening; it has to be wide enough to enable zig-zag stitching.

Can You Use a Twin Needle With a Walking Foot?

The best presser foot for a twin needle is the zigzag foot! But what happens when you don’t access to the zigzag foot? Can you use a walking foot instead?

You can! But you have to be keen when clamping the foot on. After partly screwing it on, look under the foot as you continue screwing it. This helps you to fine tune its positioning so that the foot is installed straight.

Before starting to sew, do a test run using with scraps of your fabric to check if the tension or presser foot pressure is on point; if not, adjust accordingly.

When sewing, check again by moving the handwheel for a couple of stitches just in case.

Types of Twin Needle

The twin needles or double needles are compatible with most sewing machine brands and come with 2 needles attached to one shank. You will likely get only one twin needle in a package; that’s why you need to check and choose wisely what kind of double-needle you need. There are different types of twin needles meant for different kinds of fabric. 

The needles differ in terms of size, color, the shape of the tip, and size of needle eye aperture.

Here are the popular types of twin needles that you’ll likely interact with during your sewing projects:

  • Stretch Twin Needle

This type of twin needle comes with a smaller rounded tip. It is recommended that you use it for stretchy and highly elastic fabrics such as scuba and spandex. It produces stitches that allow the fabric to stretch freely without breaking the threads. 

Their tips are more rounded tip than that of the universal double needle. Consequentially, this twin needle doesn’t pierce the fabric! Instead, it spreads apart the fibers of your workpiece to penetrate.

  • Ballpoint Twin Needle

It’s the best twin needle for all the other knit fabrics.

  • Universal Twin Needle

The universal twin needles are general-purpose needles. They are the most common ones for weaving fabrics and other forms of knits. These needles bear a slightly rounded tip such that it slips through the weave of knits with ease while remaining sharp to handle the woven fabrics.

  • Embroidery Twin Needle

You can tell an embroidery twin needle by its enlarged groove and eye; such features make them ideal for making decorative stitches.

The embroidery of materials usually happens at a higher speed, unlike regular sewing. This sewing accessory has a coating with larger eyes, which allows for a smooth thread flow at higher speeds. You can use this type of twin needles with different embroidery threads – cotton, rayon, polyester, etc.

  • Double Hemstitch Twin Needle

It’s a product of Schmetz – Usually, one is a wing needle while the other is a regular needle on a crossbar from one shaft. This needle type is largely used for decorative stitching on fabrics that are tightly woven.

  • Denim Twin Needle

If you compare this twin needle for denim with a double universal needle, you will realize that the former comes with a sharp, strong point that penetrates dense fabrics with ease. This twin needle is not only meant for denim but also for all kinds of dense fabric material. It’s so named because the denim identification makes it easily stand out as a needle meant for strong/dense material. 

Its sharp tip can penetrate virtually any type and multiple layers of thick material at a higher speed. Additionally, the twin needle for the jeans must be of 100 sizes. This needle size is sharp and thick enough to stitch denim fabric with ease. It is also great for topstitching woven fabrics.

  • Metallic Twin Needle

These double needles stand out from the others due to a larger specially coated needle eye and a large groove at its shaft. The large groove protects against thread breaks.

Twin needles Are Characterized By:

  • The spacing between the needles
  • Shank thickness
  • Purpose

The Spacing Between The Needles

This is also known as the width, and it’s the distance between the two needles. The width is measured in millimeters and the various sizes include 3mm, 4mm, 2mm, and 1.6mm. Larger widths are good for working on large fabrics while the smaller width needles are perfect for small workpieces.

Shank Thickness

A needle shank is the thick top part of the needle that is lodged into the clamp of a sewing machine. Most of them have a flat back and a rounded front. The shank provides support to the needle, giving it strength. The thicknesses include 90/14, 75/11, 100/16, and 75/11. Thinner needles suit lighter and closely-knit material while thicker needles are for stronger fabric.


The difference in sizes of twin needles means they serve different purposes; some are good for hemming sleeves, some are great for tucking, others for decorative stitching, and there are those that are perfect for general double-stitching.

Can You Backstitch With Double Needle?

You can backstitch with a twin needle, but I don’t recommend it! When sewing using a twin needle, the bobbin underneath sews in a zigzag pattern; if you backstitch or reverse stitch, the needle will be pulled tight resulting in breakage.

If you want your stitching to be stronger, try out the following solutions instead of backstitching:

  • Use a lock stitch machine.
  • Pull the threads on the underside of the fabric and tie them off manually.
  • Set your stitch length to zero briefly and force it to lock-stitch that way.
  • Raise the needles, pull the fabric back toward you about half an inch, and stitch over again.

Any of the above solutions will do the trick, but the best is to use a lock-stitch machine.

How Do You Adjust the Thread Tension on a Twin Needle?

Thread tension is highly significant in sewing as it determines the quality of your stitches. The double-needle carries out top-stitching using two threads and it’s important to ensure both threads have the same tension before you start sewing.

All modern sewing machines have a tension adjustment knob or button; rotate the knob until you get your desired thread tension. Traditional machines require manual adjustment.

You have to change your thread tension depending on the material/type of fabric, the number of layers, and the kind of thread. If you set the tension too loose, the bobbin thread will pull down the top stitch thread through the fabric; if you set the tension too high, the spool threads become too tight and pull up the bobbin thread through the fabric.

Also, if the tension is loose, your fabric will end up with too much top-stitch thread on the underside; if it’s the tension is tight, there’ll be too much bobbin thread coming out on the top stitch side. To create a balance, you have to tune the tension to suit your workpiece.


If you are a professional or DIYer in sewing, you know that the double-needle comes with many uses. They are one of the essential accessories for your sewing machines depending on the project at hand. One question, however, is…

Can You Use a Double Needle on Any Sewing Machine?

The simple answer is yes, mostly if your sewing machine can sew both zigzag and straight stitches. If your sewing machine sews only straight stitches, you cannot use a double needle.

So, if you intend to use this kind of needle at some point in your sewing projects, ensure that you have the right sewing machine to handle this needle type.

I hope you found this article helpful for your different sewing projects and especially regarding the use of double needles. If you have a question, concern, or any form of suggestion, don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments section below.

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