Almost an Epiphany: Sewing with a Twin Needle

I really thought I had cracked it! As promised I put my October resolution into practiced an sat down with my sewing machine, a brand new twin needle


and my most concentrated teacher face (no picture of said face – there is a limit to what is bearable!) to learn once and for all how to sew with a twin needle. I mean, it can hardly be that difficult, can it??!!!

Everything started off encouragingly! I realised that, in contrast to what works for many sewists in blogland I had to turn the tension right up rather than down.

Here is a sample sewn at a tension of 2: Hardly a zig-zag on the reverse side.


Now tension setting 3:

IMG_5058Bit better already. Now 4.5:

IMG_5061You can already see the zig-zag emerging on the left side.

Now 5:

IMG_5062Yep, I realise I should have used contrast thread for these shots. Live and learn, ey!

Anyway, I decided I was happy with this setting. The highest tension setting on my sewing machine is 6, so I thought 5 would be fine.

So I went to make a trial piece, a simple top from an older issue of BurdaStyle. I used plain white cotton knit and the serger for all seams and the twin needle for the finishing.

Everything went without a hitch and the topstitching worked perfectly:

IMG_5063But oops, can you see what I see? Some gapeage at the collar bone? No surprise really, I usually get this for this type of top (I think it wants a little more vavavoom) – I should have known! But I was so engrossed in my twin needle taming that I did not even think to try the top on before topstitching.

So how much excess is there?

IMG_5065Not really  a lot, making the front of the raglan seems a little tighter should no the trick. So out came the seam ripper and I opened up my lovely topstitching again.

IMG_5066Ahhh, that’s much more like it!

So, that’s looking good, I hear you ask, why did you call this post “Almost an epiphany”?

Well… Buoyed by my success I started the next knit top – on the same day – with unchanged settings on the machine – using a viscose jersey that seemed to have the same weight and hand as the cotton jersey used in this top – and the topstitching went all over the place!!! There were lots of skipped stitches AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!! Isn’t that so infuriating?

Is that normal? Am I mad? What do you do to make the twin needle work for you?


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7 thoughts on “Almost an Epiphany: Sewing with a Twin Needle

  1. Maureen October 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm Reply

    I find that some knits need a “stretch” needle (rounded point) and some do not. Sometimes I use tearaway stabilizer under the seam. You can substitute tissue paper like you use for gifts instead, just cut strips and lay them under the seam.

    • Chris October 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm Reply

      I will definitely try that. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Valerie October 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm Reply

    Isn’t it nice to get rid of gaposis and get just the right neckline? Re the viscose no you are not going mad. Viscose jersey is enough to send anyone screaming as it can be an absolute horror to sew. Try some stabilizer sandwiched in the seams and hems, even the cheap hemming tape from the $2 will pretty much wash away after a few washes but saves your sanity when sewing.

    • Chris October 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm Reply

      What a great idea! I have never tried the stabilizer but I certainly will!

  3. Clipped Curves October 12, 2013 at 7:38 am Reply

    Completely normal – I have to tweak for each new piece of jersey. My starting points are always +3 tension, 3.0 stitch length, ball point twin needle and walking foot. Then I fiddle from there. Also a slow speed helps prevent skipped stitches but is boring!

    • Chris October 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm Reply

      You are so right. The slowness drives me round the bend! I know they are not long seams, but I even start shouting at the sewing machine because it is so slow…

  4. […] scary, ey? The top is another version of an old Burda pattern. I have a few versions of this, none of them were deemed exciting enough to warrant a blog […]

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