How to sew a with a Double Needle (almost any sewing machine)


Tulip skirt with a double needle hem.

A double needle (or twin needle) is a super tool for sewing knit (or stretch fabric) garments. Use it for a skirt, top, sleeve, or pant leg hem (like my free Basic Leggings for Girls Pattern). The double-needle stitch is much more flexible than a regular straight stitch so that means no popped threads when you accidentally stretch the hem too much, and if your sewing machine is capable of zig-zaging, then it can do this too. 

It is used mainly for hems – not for sewing the seams. Here are my tips for how to sew stretch fabrics (including the seams). 

In this blog post let me show you how to sew with a double needle and any sewing machine that can zig zag…

how to fold the knit fabric hem

How to sew a Professional Double-Needle Hem

Serging the edge first will make your finished hem look very similar to a coverstitch hem (that’s the fancy machine that is used on most store-bought garments). But serging is not really necessary since knit fabrics don’t fray.

Step 1: Prep your edge.  

Serge the bottom, if desired. Then press the hem the desired amount.

Step 2: Prep your sewing machine.

You will need two spools of thread (fill an extra bobbin for one if you need to) and two spool holders. If your sewing machine doesn’t have two spool holders, I’ve seen where people tape a pencil or straw vertically next to the first spool holders to make a temporary one. You could also use a free-standing thread holder.

Install a double needle on your sewing machine. Thread the machine as usual with the first spool of thread and insert it in the needle of the right.

twin needle sewing machine

Thread the second spool (or bobbin) of thread second, in just the same way. It will seem strange to thread two threads in the same spot, but it will turn out fine. The second thread should go into the needle on the left.

sewing with a double needle

Step 3: Test on a scrap of fabric.

Use a straight stitch. I usually lengthen my stitch to 3 or 3.5 for knit fabrics. Backstitching is fine with a double needle. You don’t need to stretch the fabric as you go.

Step 4: Sew the double needle hem.

As you can see from the picture above, I strategically pressed the hem on this skirt along the bottom stripe so that my row of black stitches would follow the next black stripe up. It won’t be visible for most of the hem.




Here are examples of what the wrong side of the hem would look like with and without the serged edge. Like I said, the serged edge is not necessary. But it will fake your friends out so they think you bought the skirt at the store.

FYI: The instructions for the easy Faux-Wrap Pencil Skirt above is in my book Just For You, and next week Stephanie Kendron (who hosts the Modern Sewciety podcast) is going to share the skirt she made! Join our facebook group to learn about our year-long selfish sewing sewalong. Come back every Wednesday to see more!

This is just another one of my Sewing 201 posts… these are posts where I share a technique to take your sewing to the next level. Check them all out. πŸ™‚


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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. πŸ™‚

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  1. I haven’t used twin needle yet although my machine has a setting for it. I have already purchased a few different sizes and a jersey one too. After reading your instructions and seeing the result I’m now off to find a suitable pattern! Thank you πŸ™‚

  2. I use a twin needle for all my knit hems. I love the professional finish it gives to your garments.

  3. Katy Engholm says:

    No I have never used a double needle stitch before but I want to as soon I find the double needle for my machine.

  4. I haven’t used a double needle… yet. I purchased one for my new business in making children’s clothes along with a served. Once I’ve finished collecting my fabric and my designs it will receive A LOT of use!
    My email is
    P.S. I love that fabric and the hemline! And I just happen to wear a small πŸ˜‰
    Love your blog and my daily projects I bookmark every morning!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. I have a double needle but haven’t tried using it yet! I look forward to trying it now.

  6. Brandi Sweetapple-Speziale says:

    Silly auto-correct! A serger! I need to find a spreader to use most of the stitches with no luck. I’ll have to try the Singer store online if there is one.

  7. I have hemmed many knits but never thought about using the double needle. Thank you so much for this tutorial!

  8. Carol Kussart says:

    I have used a double needle, but very little, and only for decorative stitching. I really like the use of it on hems. I will try this method once I get over my reluctance to start sewing with knits again.

  9. Mary Reisdorph says:

    Would love the skirt. I have not used a double needle But I will give it a go. Thanks for the tutorial

  10. Abigail S says:

    I love knit skirts this way–I’m just getting ready to do this hem on a friend’s dress, so I’m glad I came across this for a refresher!

  11. Victoria Frail says:

    I did try it. It did not come out that well. It was on a tiny 18m short sleeve though.
    What width of needle did you use? Mine was a 4.0mm and I wonder if I should have used something like a 3.0 or smaller.

  12. Sandra Kumler says:

    I have not tried the double needle hem but as soon as I have a vacation day I’m going to. I’d like to try to make a knit maxi skirt for summer. They are oh so comfy but I never like the colors/patterns I see in the store so I think I’ll make my own.

  13. Leah Johnsey says:

    I have not tried a double needle, but I own one. As soon as I find the time to take my serger in for maintenance, I plan on making lots of shorts and skirts for the kids this summer.

  14. Elizabeth Bulfin says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’ve never understood how this works or should look on the wrong side since there is only a single bobbin thread. Now I know and will try it.

  15. Thanks for the info! I am just starting my journey with knits and will definitely be picking up a double needle for finishing garments.

  16. Negri Saliceti says:

    Yes, I’ve used it and since I did it I am in love with this technique. Just a little concern; should I use some sort of stabilizer at the edge to avoid "tubing". Happy sewing!

  17. I love using a double needle for hemming knits!

  18. Donna Lee says:

    I have used a double needle for knits but still had some looping, so I need more practice. Using a stabilizer does help me with the puckering I tend to get on knits. I love the skirt!
    donnalee1953 (at) gmail (dot) com

  19. I love the double needle. My daughter would love the skirt!

  20. I have not tried it yet, but this is the year that I will begin sewing clothes for myself so I will be trying it this year. Btw, I love this skirt :).

  21. Yes I have used the double needle to sew bias tape onto a wallhanging. Good results!

  22. I used a double needle once – it seemed to pucker the fabric between the rows of stitching. i do need to try again. Thanks for the tutorial.

  23. This is just great. NO, I have always been afraid to use a double needle, but after reading this, I WILL GIVE IT A TRY. THANKS SO MUCH FOR HELPING ME AND MY CONFIDENCE!

  24. Christina says:

    I have! I was pretty freaked out at first, but it was actually pretty easy and I would definitely do it again! I think I need to sew further into the fabric like you because my hem tends to roll.

  25. Denece Farris says:

    I have not used a double needle, but love the look and will be giving it a try! Thanks for the info-

  26. Caroline,
    It has been years since I have used a double needle application. I just want to thank you for reminding me of it so that I can use it again on future projects. I have obtained soooo many helpful hints and projects from this site in the past and I am sure there are many more to come. I LOVE the looks of this skirt and would love to own it. Aggie

  27. Furbalsmom says:

    I haven’t used twin needles since the orientation class on my new sewing machine four years ago. I am looking forward to working with knits.

    1. Furbalsmom says:

      forgot to add my email
      furbalsmom at g mail dot com

  28. I have used the double needle on shorts for my son (up-cycled pants).

  29. I love finishing with a double needle. It just makes things look more store bought. Though my double needle tension doesn’t always want to cooperate…………

  30. Anita Carol Gambrell says:

    No I have never used it but I do have one so I am going to use it! Thanks for the article! anita

  31. I have never used a double needle to make a hem but I am eager to try.

  32. I’d love to have that skirt! I used a double needle once and it was a disaster. Now I’m scared to try again, lol!

    1. Oops…typed my email wrong. It’s nitadances at gmail dot com.

  33. i have never used a double needle. I’ve not known what to use it for. Thanks for this info. I will give it a go.

  34. I have done the double needle a lot. I now have a cover stitch machine.

  35. Michelle White says:

    I have tried to use the double needle, but my machine does not like it! The needles kept breaking.I have no idea why. Maybe because I sew on a digital dinosaur of a machine.
    I love the look you can get with the double needle. I promise to try it, if I ever get another machine, for sure:)

  36. Weirdly I just worked out yesterday that my machine does have a second spool I can insert so I’ll definitely be trying a double needle soon!

  37. gayle hill says:

    Just what I always wanted to know, thanks for the great tutorial <3

  38. Ann Bryant (Granny) says:

    I do a lot of heirloom sewing, so I have used a double needle, and when I got my first serger, many years ago, I used a double needle to hem all my knits (no cover stitch way back then on my serger, at least). I would love to win the skirt for my granddaughter who will be switching colleges to finish her senior year in the fall.

  39. Cathie Lester says:

    I’ve been wanting to try the double needle. I’m inspired! The skirt would be a beautiful addition to my wardrobe😊😊😊

  40. It’s almost magic! And so easy. And I love the curved overlap on the pencil skirt. Great look-

  41. I haven’t used a double needle stitch before but this definitely inspires me to try!!!

  42. Natasha Williams says:

    I want to win!! So cute!!!!

  43. Natasha Williams says:

    Haha. I fogey to say that I have tried using a double needle, but with little success. My antique singer is capable, but I can’t seem to get the tension right.

    I would love to win! So cute!!!

  44. I’m pretty sure I own a double needle, but I’ve never used it! This would be a great skirt to try it on, though.

  45. Judy Forkner says:

    I have used a double needle–mostly for pin tucking.

  46. I have used a double needle. I like it for finishing swimwear edges.

  47. I have not, but I promise I will! Thanks!
    jbsew (dot) n (dot) sew @

  48. So cute! Thank you for the tutorial, I have been reluctant to try. Very helpful πŸ™‚

  49. I haven’t tried a double needle yet, but I guess now I have to! πŸ™‚

  50. Marla Kaye says:

    I’ve yet to attempt a double needle stitch. I’ll give it my best shot. Love the skirt! 1eyedgirl[at]gmail[dot]com

  51. Have used double needle quite a few times, love the finished look on knits! jasmine(dot)browne@gmail(dot)com

  52. Elizabeth Johnson says:

    No but I have bought the needle to try. My oldest daughter (30) is a small and would love it I am sure! It takes quite a bit more fabric for me at xl. thank you for the tips!

  53. I’ve never used the double needle that came with my machine but I promise to try!

  54. Barbara T. says:

    I’ve never sewn a double needle hem, but I can’t wait to try! Oh, and that skirt will be perfect for me! Thanks for the chance to win it!


    I have a double needle for my machine ,but has never used it . love the look of the skirt.Thanks for a chance to win.

  56. Cute skirt! And yes I have used the double needle before for a hem – thanks for a chance to play: )

  57. Yes I have used my double needle, but still haven’t gotten it to work out as well as I would like.

  58. Catherine Lorand says:

    hello from the UK. I used a double needle and broke it instantly! would love to win the skirt. thank you for offering it.

  59. Kayla Seyer says:

    I’ve never done a double needle, but I’d love to try it when I get my new sewing machine! Mines out of commission right now, but I have my fingers crossed for mothers day πŸ™‚

  60. Wanda Lawrence says:

    Never tried it, but I will!

  61. Linda C. Hill says:

    NO, I have never used a double needle, BUT I am saving for a sewing machine that allows that option. WOULD love to win the skirt to gift to my daughter. Thanks so much!!

  62. Caroline, I have a double needle…never used it . YES I’ll give it a whirl and that small skirt will fit me:) Thank you for the tutorial it presents very professionally sewn.

  63. I have a double needle……I’ve never used it! But this tutorial makes it look easy! I think I’ll try it! And I could definitely wear a size small!

  64. I had tried the double needle before, but it didn’t go smoothly. You’ve inspired me to try again! Thanks!

  65. Lisa Bedini Olson says:

    I’ve not tried the double needle before. I would love to win this skirt for my daughter, a new mom, who has to head back to work soon. This skirt would be a great for her to have, as it looks super comfy and stretches!

  66. I just bought a double needle. …I really want to master knits! I have tons of ideas! Thank you for the daily inspiration!

  67. Carolyn McGinnis says:

    Yes I love to use a double needle.

  68. Never used a double needle stitch but sure am trying to improve my sewing skills. Would love this skirt.

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