Twin Needle Magic – Playtime

By Pauline Barnes

Twin needles come in seven different sizes from 1.6mm up to 8mm; the size indicates the distance between the two needles. Twin needles can be used with all makes of sewing machine.  

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My Pfaff machine has a zigzag stitch width of 9mm so I can use the 8mm twin needle for straight stitching.  I use smaller size needles with automated stitches to create unusual effects and always use an open toe craft foot as this allows you to be very precise and have a clear view of the stitching right up to the point of the needle.

Straight Stitching

If you haven’t used a twin needle before, start with some straight lines of stitching to get familiar with it.  

Thread up your machine with both threads separating them above the needle point and threading one thread into each needle.

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Try stitching a grid pattern on felt or fabric and see what lovely texture you get.

You can’t turn corners with a twin needle but you can stitch gentle curved lines.


You need a pintuck foot to get perfect pintucks.  Stitch one row, then put that row into the lefthand groove of the (5-hole pintuck foot) and then stitch a parallel row.

You can also make firm raised pintucks by putting fine string or cord under the fabric and stitching as before.

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Triple Zig Zag Stitch

Sometimes called elastic stitch this makes a lovely ripple texture on a fine fabric , eg. Scollata or cotton lawn.   Use a 3mm or 4mm needle and stitch several rows close enough to almost overlap the previous row.   Tighten the top tension a little and increase the stitch length. 


when changing from straight stitch to zigzag or any other automated stitch ALWAYS first check that the needles are within the toes of the foot by turning the wheel BY HAND through the whole sequence of the stitch and watch closely to see if the needles are clearing the foot.   Reduce the stitch width if necessary.

Smart Ideas

Make new fabric by stitching with a narrower twin needle – e.g. 2.5mm, and stitch automated stitches in rows to cover a piece of fabric which can then be cut and used in your work.   One of my favourite combinations is a gold/metallic thread and a variegated thread stitched onto black fabric.

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Stitch on fine felt – this gives some wonderful textures.  Combine rows of straight stitching with alternate rows of an automated stitch.

Further information

Visit my website to see some of the quilts which I have stitched with twin needles – Silence is Golden; Urban Landscape; Silver Circles; Dabbahu; Sognare Venezia.