Searching for a Twin Needle Source

I have been wanting to use a twin needle on my sewing machine so that I can approximate a professional looking hem on knit garments.

For those of you who read my blog just because you like me and not because you sew... A twin needle is two needles side by side, stuck together onto one shaft that goes into the machine. Now take the t-shirt you are wearing (I know you are wearing one) and look at the stitching along the bottom edge. It's highly likely that there are two (or three) rows of stitches there. Now, flip the fabric over and look at the back of that row of stitching. It likely has threads looping and crossing over all over the place. This kind of stitch is made with either a serger or a coverstitch machine. You can use a regular sewing machine with a twin needle to make the top side look the same, but the bottom will just have one thread zig-zagging back and forth like this: VVVVVVV

I really want to get a twin needle to work so that I can lay aside my desire for a serger or coverstitch machine. I bought a twin needle (the only one offered at whatever fabric store I was in) and finally tried it on my machine. Of course, problems arose.

My sewing machine manual has no information about using a twin needle, so I did the best I could to thread the thing (you need two spools of thread on top and one bobbin below) and gave it a go on a scrap of fabric. Holy! You wouldn't believe the problems! Thread pulling all wonky everywhere, thread shredding, fabric getting stuck, thread from the top two spools gettting wound around the bobbin case, etc, etc.

So I swore a little bit and then hit my sewing websites. No help. Seriously. A few people over at Pattern Review tried to offer suggestions, but nothing helped (or was relevant). Everyone seemed mystified at my problem. I thought maybe there was something particular about my machine, so I read the reviews of my machine on Pattern Review and then checked out the website of the company who makes my machine. Less and less help. Seriously, if you ever decide to buy a sewing machine first check out the company's website to see what kind of support they offer.

Then I jumped through hoops to send direct messages to the people who had reviewed my machine on Pattern Review. I only received one response and that person had never tried using a twin needle.

So I called my less-than-helpful "local" (in Richmond - that's a half-hour drive in good traffic) dealer of Janome sewing machines. Of course, their sewing machine person was on holiday (who are all the other people there, I always wonder), but they gave me a toll free number to a sister company in Ontario. I called there, but their sewing machine person wasn't there either (surprise, surprise), but would be in the following two days.

I called back and the woman I spoke with had very little idea of what I was trying to do and why it wasn't working. She hunted around for another dealer in my general area to call, and ended up giving me the number to a warehouse in Abbottsford. I called there and was given yet another phone number of a sewing machine shop in Surrey. Called the Surrey shop and finally spoke to someone who sounded competent and pleasant. She invited me to come in anytime and they would try to solve my twin needling problems.

I went in. (It's a long drive and I got stuck in traffic because of a very bad traffic accident, but I did make it there well before closing.) The woman who helped me was very kind and seemed competant, but she did blanch a little when she found out that I was wanting to sew knits. She even asked me if I really wanted to sew on such stretchy material. I thought, "What? Such stretchy material? It's not swimsuit fabric or anything! Just a cotton-lycra blend, for crying out loud! It only stretches crosswise at that!" Of course, all I said was, "Yes, I am making knit tops."

Well, she puts my twin needle in. She threads it just like I had done. Then she runs a test on a woven fabric. My machine runs like a dream except that it isn't making a zig zag on the back. After a few more tests on woven fabric (and everything runs smoothly the whole time) we determine that in order to get a zig zag across the back I have to crank my top thread tension all the way up and that I probably should get a new bobbin case to use specifically for twin needling and loosen the tension on it.

Then she runs a test on my stretchy fabric. And we have problems again. I am momentarily crestfallen. Then the woman looks at my needle case and says, well, no wonder you are having trouble, this twin needle isn't ball point - it's not made to sew through knit fabric.

I about sank into the floor with embarassment. I know that I am supposed to use a ball point needle on knit fabrics. I learned that when I was just watching my mother sew decades ago. It didn't even occur to me to think about this when I purchased my twin needle. There was only one offered, so I bought that one.

So today I have been cruising around looking for ball point twin needles. I have found them online for about $4.50 plus shipping (and waiting), and locally for about $7 plus gas (and childcare). That's about a wash in my book.

Do any of you know where I could order ball point twin needles for less than $4.50 a piece?


Paulette said…
so, I'm not trying to be difficult or anything of the sort plus I don't even own a Janome....

I find it mildly interesting that you were told the issue was that you were not using a ballpoint twin needle. I have been using twin needles to hem knits (poly/lycra blend) and have not been using the ballpoint kind. Let's face it...they are NOT the easiest to locate. SO...(I use a Bernina) I loosened the upper tension and also added strips of badgemaster (embroidery product) to the underneath of the fabric (basically just place the strip on the feed dog and run the fabric over it/stitch through it) and start sewing away. This gave my fabric the stability it needed to get good stitches along with the V's underneath. *badgemaster washes out too, which makes me very happy*
So, while I may not be helpful at all, I feel bad for how much you had to go through just to get someone to help you and then tell you that the needle type was incorrect.
So does that mean I should use ballpoint needles in my serger every time I have knit fabric?! Yea, cuz I don't.

Hope I've helped in some way.
That's a good thought! I'll check into that kind of product here.
Sabrina/Ryan said…
hey friend! we just got back from vacation where, except for checking email twice, i was "unplugged". It was glorious. I can't believe how much sewing you have gotten done in the two weeks I have been gone! Sabrina
Judy Ross said…
I second Paulette's suggestion. I sometimes have problems sewing some types of knits. I find if I use a stabiliser on top of the fabric my machine behaves beautifully. I find good old greaseproof paper (for wrapping lunches) or tissue paper or Glad Press'n'seal works just fine. I just lay strips of it on my fabric and sew through it. Afterwards you have to tear it out, but that's not too hard. The biggest advantage is that they're all very readily available at the supermarket.

The fact that it worked on a woven but not a knit is a good indication that it's the fabric causing the problem. For what it's worth, I don't think I've ever used a ball point twin needle!

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