One of my favourite sewing machine accessories is the Twin needle!
The images below show twin needles that stitch two lines, 2.5mm apart (left) and 4mm apart (right). Other widths are available but check there compatibility with your sewing machine.
I love it because it sews two rows of stitching with a zigzag at the back. This is enough to finish the edge of a hem on most cotton jersey fabrics. However, if the fabric looks like it will fray more, then overlock or zigzag stitch it first.
Look at any jersey t-shirt or sweatshirt and they will have hems finished in this way. It is also often used as a feature stitch at neck or cuff edges where the rib meets the jersey. The only tricky thing about using a twin needle is that you stitch blind. That is with the right side of the fabric up and the hem folded under, but you can always feel the amount under or you can pin either on the line you want to machine or pin on the fold line as a guide.
My friend’s son Kieran likes to spend his cash on expensive label polo shirts. He plays football and unfortunately injured his leg. So with his restricted lack of activity he started buying bigger sizes. Now he’s playing again and back to his former fitness and wondered if I could reshape his tops. If they had been cheap tops I’d have said ‘don’t bother’ but at £60 a top it was worth doing. And it was this simple (x6 polo shirts!). But if I hadn’t had the twin needle I wouldn’t have been able to give the polo shirts their original hem.
In industry terms a domestic machine twin needle is actually called a “cover stitch” machine. A cover stitcher is used to finish stretch fabric garments. However the best way to use the industrial cover stitcher is to sew everything flat and again working blind with right side of fabric uppermost hem turned under. Imagine on, for example, a pair of leggings. Where at home we would complete the legging then sew the hem, in industry parts of the legging would be sewn, then the hems or waist sewn flat with a cover stitcher then final seams joined to complete the garment and a few top stitches on the seam to hold it in place. Have a look at your own leggings, t-shirts or stretchy knit tops to check this!
This is a sleeve from a bought garment. You can tell the sleeve was cover stitched on the flat (before the underarm seam was joined) because the cover stitching is sewn flat first, then the underarm seam done, then the hem stitched onto the underarm seam. The third image shows the stitching that holds the underarm seam in place.
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