A question we're often asked by the prospective sewing machine buyer is: does it have a twin needle?
On answering yes, and the twin needle box ticked off the customer's list along with the other questions, the new machine will be purchased.
All too often however, the twin needle will remain in the accessory box never to be used.
This is such a shame because the results achieved when these needles are put to use can make a big difference to the look of garments, soft furnishings and many craft projects.
Here we'll tell you about the different types you can buy; how best to use, and show you what can be achieved.
→ Shop Special Effect Sewing Machine Needles
Allow you to sew with two separate needle threads and can be used for decorative embellishment, making pintucks and for sewing a double (parallel) straight stitch.
They fit into your machine in exactly the same way as the regular needle. Available in a range of widths: 1.6mm, 2mm, 2.5 / 3mm, 4mm and 6mm*.
The size in millimetres represents the distance between the two needles. *6mm will only work on machines that have a stitch width of 6mm and higher. As well as producing a double straight stitch, the 1.6, 2 and 3mm are most commonly used for sewing pintucks.
For this purpose, best results are achieved by using a pintuck foot. Most sewing machine manufacturers have these feet available in their range of optional accessories. Pintucks are generally found on dresses, blouses and shirts. You'll also find they'll add an interesting dimension to cushions, pillow cases, table napkins, purses and many craft items.
As a bonus, when used with a different colour thread on each needle, interesting results are achieved when combined with your machine's decorative and zigzag stitches.
Here we see the different widths of twin needles that are generally available.
from left to right: 1,6mm. 2mm. 2.5-3mm. 4mm. 6mm. Triple 3mm
Stretch Twin Needles
Available in 2.5mm and 4mm - These work in the same way as the regular twin needle.
The hem on this lycra was produced using a 4mm stretch twin needle. They're designed to help reduce the likelihood of skip stitches encountered when sewing synthetic stretch fabrics such as Spandex / Lycra, etc.
Metallic Twin Needle - for metallic threads.
Usually 3mm; has special elliptical shaped eyes designed to reduce friction on metallic thread - helps prevent metallic embroidery threads from shredding and snagging.
Usually 3mm; works in the same way as the twin needle to produce 3 parallel rows of straight stitching.
The double stitching on the jeans pocket shown here was produced with a 6mm twin needle. Instead of using a thick thread, we used the machines triple straight stitch along with Gütermann sew-all thread.
This two colour deco effect was produced with a narrow 1.6mm needle threaded with Marathon Rayon Embroidery Thread in contrasting colours.
This dazzling effect was achieved with a metallic twin needle threaded with metallic gold and metallic silver.
Making pintucks with a Twin Needle and the Pintuck Foot
Depending on your make of machine, the Pintuck foot will be available in a range of sizes including 3, 5, 7 and 9 grooves. The grooves allow you to make several parallel pintuck rows.
The more grooves you have - the narrower the tucks become.
To prevent flattening out, you can reinforce the pintuck with a cord that's hidden by stitching to the underside of the fabric.
Setting up for pintucks
Here we're using a 5 groove foot and a 2mm needle.
The cord shown in the picture below will be automatically stitched to the fabric underside to prevent the tuck from being flattened.
To keep the cord in line with the middle groove on the foot, cut off a little piece from a narrow drinking straw (you only need 1cm or less in length) then line it up with the centre of the pintuck foot and fix in place with a small piece of masking tape. You can now feed the end of the cord through to line up with the foot.
Please note: make sure the cord's diameter is narrow enough to fit between the two needles and that it rides freely in the groove on the foot.
Having marked out the starting point and where you want the tucks to be sewn; position your fabric over the cord and under the foot, then line up your starting point with the foot's centre groove. Check carefully that the cord also lines up inside the foot's centre groove. Let the cord spool rest in your lap and you are now ready to sew your first pintuck.
Once completed, the first pintuck is positioned into the next adjacent groove on the foot. If you want a small gap between each row, leave out one groove, or two grooves if you'd like a slightly wider gap.
The clever bit is the way the first pintuck will keep your next one perfectly in line as you sew along. You can carry on making as many tucks as you wish - just keep positioning the last tuck you've sewn into the required groove.
Here we can see how rows of pintucks have added a new dimension to this lightweight cotton print fabric.
Wing Needles (also referred to as Hem Stitch needles)
These have a blade on both sides of the needle that will cut a small slit into the fabric as the stitch is formed producing an intricate hem stitch effect.
They work best with most lightweight, woven fabrics such as: cotton lawn, handkerchief linens, lightweight poly cottons, etc.
Single Wing or Twin Wing?…
Sews a normal straight stitch producing a slit at both ends of the stitch formation. However, it can also be used with your machine's zigzag and deco stitches.
In this picture we show examples of what can be achieved with a single wing when used with an ordinary straight stitch or if you use some of the deco stitches.
If you use the deco stitches, make sure you reduce the stitch width so that the needle doesn't catch the edge of the presser foot.
From top to bottom. Top: using a deco hem stitch. Middle: plain straight stitch. Bottom: Tripple Straight Stitch (also known as stretch stitch)
Works in the same way as a regular twin needle.
The left side needle has the blades on either side together with an additional normal needle 2.5mm adjacent.
You can only use the twin wing needle for straight stitching.
Here we see how added detail has been applied to the hem on this poly cotton print when sewn with the twin wing needle.