Working with Twin Needles
There are so many tools that come with our sewing machines these days, have you used every single one of them? Don’t be ashamed to admit if you have not, you are not alone! One of the things we spend a lot of timing filming at Baby Lock is what in the world to do with all of those accessories! Each time I make a new video with the team, I’m inspired by either a tool I haven’t used yet, or a new way to use something I “thought” I knew what to do with.
In light of that, I thought it would be fun to start a new blog series about some of those lesser used accessories. Sound good? Let’s start with the twin needle!
Every one of our Baby Lock machines comes with a twin needle, and a lot of other machine manufacturers throw one in, too. Fun fact* When we film the “Getting to know your….” series of videos where we show you how to use each machine, one of my camera guy Gym’s favorite parts is “the big reveal” where I flip over the twin needle and show it off! It’s a funny little thing we always do.
So what is a twin needle? It is a needle with two “pointy parts” and one shaft to insert into your machine. Make sense? You do need to use two spools of thread, but only one bobbin. Adding that extra spool of thread is no biggie, simply place the second spool on either your bobbin winding spool pin or an upright spool pin. Then just thread the two together and separate them once you reach the eyes of the needles. You end up with perfectly straight parallel rows of stitching, think of top stitching with a double row of stitches but only having to go around your garment once. This can give you the look of a serger cover stitch. It is also beautiful for decorative stitching, I absolutely love how a twin row serpentine stitches looks when used for quilting!
Our machines comes with one – this is not the only wing needle you can use with your machine. There are several different variations: size (distance between needles), actual needle size (75, 80, 90) and needle type. Choosing which twin needle to use should be based on the type of fabric you are using, the thread type and which stitch you would like to use. I like to call this the recipe for stitching success, let’s unpack that a bit, shall we?
Fabric: just like when stitching with a standard single needle, the type of fabric you are using should determine the needle type. For example, if you are working with knit fabrics, you should use a knit needle. A knit needle is designed with a softer ball point so that it can fall between the fibers of your knit fabric with each stitch rather than cutting a hole in the fibers which may grow as a stretchy fabric is stretched.
Thread: Any time you are sewing, thread type should be considered in determining needle choice. If you are working with a thick thread, you are going to want a larger eye in the needle so the thread doesn’t rub against the needle as you stitch which can cause shredding or breaking of the thread. You should also use specialty needles when working with specialty threads such as metallics, some needles have a specially designed eye and scarf to prevent breaking of metallic threads due to the friction and heat caused as you stitch.
Finally, Stitch Selection: What is the end result you are looking? As mentioned above, are you hemming or topstitching? For that you would likely want a straight stitch and you could use any sized needle. If you are working with a decorative stitch, there is a bit of an equation to be done. If your machine, like mine, has a 7mm stitch capability, that is about how big the opening in the foot and needle plate of the machine is (maybe just a skosh wider, but not much). If you select a decorative stitch that is already 5 mm wide, that means your needle will swing left and right a total of 5 mm. If you select a 4.0 twin needle, you are adding quite a bit of extra width to your stitch and this may cause your needle to hit your foot.
To avoid any problems that may result from using a twin needles, always test before your sew. I like to test my stitch on a scrap of the fabric from my project. If I find that my fabric is raising between my needle lines and I don’t want that, I’ll add some starch or stabilizer to my fabric. Maybe I like how it looks when the needle adds texture, sometimes we end up with an unexpected surprise! On your first stitch, before you “put the pedal to the metal,” be sure to turn your handle toward you slowly and watch where your needles are going to land. Be sure that they can move up and down, side to side with out making contact with the presser foot!
As always, the best thing you can do when trying out a new technique is to play, practice, and try new things! The only thing inhibiting you is your imagination and willingness to explore new techniques.