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Double Trouble: How to Thread a Double Needle

Sewing with knits can be incredibly satisfying, but knowing how to thread a double needle and then use it properly can make the difference between your garments looking obviously handmade and professionally finished. In this post, I’ll walk you through achieving a double needle hem, so that you feel more confident in embracing the recent explosion of knit sewing patterns out there.

Fun Dress Finished with a Double Needle Hem!

What is a double needle and why use one?

Also known as a twin needle, a double needle is two needles attached to a single shank. One is slightly shorter than the other to allow the bobbin to catch the thread from both needles. It can help achieve professional looking topstitching by imitating the neat row of double stitching commonly seen on the hems, sleeves and necklines of shop-bought knit garments. Most machines can work with a double needle, but do consult your manual first for specific threading instructions.

Double Needle

Choosing the right double needle for your machine

Double needles come in different sizes just like regular needles — they have two numbers to highlight the distance between the needles and the needle size. For example, a 4/90 double needle has a distance of 4 mm between the needles, which are size 90.

If your manual doesn’t specify a preferred size for your machine, make sure that the distance between your needles is no wider than the widest zigzag setting on your machine, to avoid damaging the throat plate and bobbin case. To establish this, you can run a piece of paper through your machine (with no thread in) on the widest zigzag and a short stitch length. Then, just measure the width of the zigzag or take the paper with you when you go needle shopping.

Want to learn more of the sewing techniques that can elevate your garments from drab to fab? Check out the Craftsy sewing class Sew Smarter: 30 Professional Techniques and get started sewing your most sophisticated garments yet!

How to thread a double needle

Step 1:

Replace your regular needle with your double needle — this is done in exactly the same way you normally change needles.

Step 2:

Thread the left needle as you would thread a regular needle, using your regular upper thread.

Sewing Machine Set-up Using a Double Needle

Step 3:

Place your extra spool pin onto the bobbin winder shaft and top with your second spool of thread or bobbin. If your machine doesn’t come with an extra spool pin and you have an overlocker, you can just drag that close and use one of its spools instead. Or, you can even place both spools where you would place your single spool of thread.

Fitting your machine with a double needle

Step 4:

Thread the right needle using your extra spool of thread. Again, thread it in the same way you would a normal needle, but don’t pass the thread through the needle bar thread guide this time.

Alternatively you can grab both thread ends, thread them through your machine as if it was one thread, separate them at the end and thread each end through a needle.

different hem finishes using a double needle

Right and wrong side of garment using a double hem

Step 5:

With the right side of your fabric facing up, go ahead and start sewing. My machine is happy with both a zigzag and a straight stitch whilst using a double needle, but be aware that with some you’ll only be able to use a straight stitch, yet with others you may also be able to use a range of decorative stitches too.

I used a regular stitch length and tension for medium weight jerseys, but different weights and types of knit fabric may require tension and presser foot adjustments, so always make sure you experiment with scraps of your fabric first until you’re happy.

What are your views on using a double needle?


Ogunbiyi yusuf

I love the Twin needle sewings but, i am unable to get it here in nigeria. I wish i can get anybody that can help me on it…


What kind of machine do you have? I could purchase a twin needle for you here in Canada, if you send the money, and then mail it to you.

mathew m. majek.

i will like to join your sawing lesson


It would be easier to see the stitching on a plain fabric, especially your photo of the back side.


I have threaded up the machine as instructed, but I am have troubles with the tension it’s very loose, any suggestions?


If you have skipped stitches you can try placing the threads on the same spool holder with one thread feeding off forward and one thread feeding off backwards – to balance them against each other. I have found that ‘universal’ works better than ‘stretch’ needle points do – which may be due to brand differences. I’ll take the Schmetz brand over the “Kl____” any day!

Jantine Urban

I keep having trouble with the tension… When I have it loose enough to have some stretch in it, it does make a tunnel after stretching the seam…

Sheila Robson

I’ve failed miserably with double needle sewing. The first time I tried, I’d forgotten to move the zigzag back to zero and sew the needle broke as soon as I started! So I bought a new one, I’m sure I threaded it correctly – tried several times – but the left hand thread seems not to catch every time, so I have long gaps of missed stitches on the left hand side only. I’ve tried re-threading the other needle first, but nothing seemed to work – it’s always the left hand line of stitching that skips. Any suggestions welcomed.


I’ve been having the exact same problem when sewing a double needle with ponte di roma farbic – the left needle kept skipping. I don’t know if this helps at all, but I tried adjusting the tension (not the bobbin tension though), making sure the spools were spinning in oposite directions, lengthening the stitch etc. and then I tried stretching the fabric as I sewed and suddenly it worked! I’m sure I was told by someone you didn’t need to stretch the fabric when hemming but it was the only thing that worked. In the end I used a ball point needle, 3.5-4 length stitches, set the tension higher to 6, and stretched the fabric as I sewed.


this makes so much sense for whats been happening with me!

Meredith Daggett

Thank you so much! I tried it and it worked. Stretching the fabric was the key!

Peggy B

Tension set to 5.5, straight stitch only ( no zig zag) on basic machines. Narrow double needle only 2.0/75.Stretch thread in bobbin. Walking foot attachment. Stitch length 2.5 only. Needle position center ( not left or right). Sew slowly!!!!!


Thank you Peggy. Your instructions worked beautifully on the hem of my grand daughters knit dress.


Thank you Peggy, Your instructions are the best. The hem on my grand daughters dress looks very professional.


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