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(Originally published in the Spring 1998 issue of Total Embellishment Newsletter.)
I've always had a double needle or two in my sewing drawer but now I have one in every width (1.6mm, 2.0mm, 3.0mm, 4.0mm and 6.0mm width between needles) and size, because double needles are great for doing more than just pintucks. Try double needles for:
Yes, free-motion stippling is twice as fast and twice as lovely when you use two needles instead of one. Be creative. Use thread in two different, coordinating colors for a distinctive effect.
Achieve a "finished" look on knitwear by hemming your knit garment with a double needle. When hemming a knit fabric, use Woolly NylonTM thread in the bobbin to eliminate the ripples commonly seen on knit garment hemlines. Thread regular thread through both needles. Fold up the hem as desired, position the garment hem against the bed of the machine with the garment right side up, with the two needles straddling the cut hem's cut edge.
Mock Cover Stitch
Use Woolly NylonTM thread in the bobbin (hand wind to avoid stretching) and your double needle on top threaded with regular thread. Stitch with the right side of your garment against the feed dogs and you'll create the look of a serger cover stitch for hemming knits and topstitching seams in sweatshirt fabric, interlocks, etc.
Applying Narrow Ribbon, Bias, Braid
Cut your sewing time in half by securing these trims with a double needle -- select the double needle spacing just slightly narrower than the trim you'll be using.
Use the Bon Fit No-Hands Elastic Wizard*, or a conventional sewing foot along with a double needle to secure elastic. Two needles will help to prevent the elastic sides from rolling.
Free-motion, Random Pintucking
Sew with double needles in a variety of widths.
Many stitches work very well when sewn with a double needle. Use lightweight bobbin thread to reduce bulk
Avoid needle breakage by making sure that the stitch width you select clears the foot and the throat plate completely before you begin stitching. To check the clearance, "walk" the machine completely through the stitch pattern by hand-turning the hand-wheel.
Just Plain Top-stitching
Anytime you need two rows of stitching exactly parallel, your double needle set is the answer. There is no way to have stitches wavering -- the two rows will be parallel. (That's not to say you can't stitch crooked, but the two rows will remain parallel no matter what.)
If you need to turn a corner, like at a collar point, stop and manually turn the hand wheel so the very tip of one needle is in the fabric, then pivot as you would for a single needle. (Notice that one needle is just slightly shorter than the other so that the bobbin hook can catch both threads to form a stitch.)
Three's a Charm . . .
Don't overlook the potential of your triple needle. If you don't have one with your machine, check with your dealer, as most current machines can accommodate this three-needle-on-a-single-shank combo.
Use it in the same way as your double needle, but remember to test the maximum stitch width potential. Some machine can only do straight stitching with the triple needle in place. Check your machine manual to be sure.
Where to put the third thread spool?
Most machines have only two spool pins, so you need to stack the extra spool on top of another thread spool for triple needling. If this doesn't work for your machine, try winding the third thread color on a bobbin and placing it on top of another spool, or extend your spool pin length with a plastic drinking straw, and place spool #3 on it.
If you're an embroiderer, you may have a "thread tree" of some kind to hold multiple spools of rayons or metallics, and this can also be used for your triple needle spools.
Need Threading Help?
If the thought of threading one needle puts you over the edge, don't panic when you see two or three. Use your needle threader** to make life easier . . . and unless you are using cotton thread, don't lick the thread end -- it only complicates matters by separating man-made thread fibers.
Contact Pauline Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org for
information on the:
* Bon Fit No-Hands Elastic Wizard
** Needle Threader Collection
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