Using the Double Needle, WITHOUT the 2nd spool holder


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Have any of you fallen in love with your Double Needle?  (Not sure what I’m talking about?  Go here.)


If you’re new to sewing…….that double needle can help you create that super crisp double line that you see on your clothing, usually along hems and seams.  Go on, look down at your shirt hem, there’s probably a double seam down there.  See?  But just to clarify, most store bought clothing has a double seam hem created on an coverstitch machine.  And that’s a certain type of serger machine (some sergers also convert to coverstitch machines).  And if you want to spend a nice chunk of change on an coverstitch machine to make pretty hems, go right ahead…..but if not, get a double needle.  And then follow my tutorial here.




I use my double needle a lot.  In fact, I think of reasons to use it because I love that crisp double line.   Here are a few examples.







However, a very common question/frustration I receive in my inbox, is that your machine doesn’t have a second spool holder for that 2nd spool of top thread.  (And putting two spools on the same spool, like I showed here, has created a tangled mess for you.)   See that spool holder on the right??  That thing flips up for me to use for a few different reasons……..and one of them, is to hold my 2nd spool of thread for the double seam.  And some of you may have that 2nd holder too.  And yes, it keeps those two threads better separated.




However, some of you don’t.  And may have been afraid to try using the double needle because of it.  (Or maybe you’re one of those who had trouble with the last tutorial because your two threads twisted on the same spool holder.)


So here’s a solution……..make your own!  Out of a dowel. 




I just cut off part of a dowel (that was small enough for my spool to slide onto) and taped it vertically right to the side of my machine.  Then I slid the green spool of thread to give my top thread enough height so that the thread was free to spin.  (You may not need that “spool lift”…..depending on if the side of your machine jets out a bit like mine does where I taped the dowel.)  Then I placed the spool color that I needed on the top and made sure that the thread could pull freely.  Now my 2 spools of pink are ready to go………just like they would be with a built-in 2nd spool holder (shown above).



Now, pull your two strands of thread……and thread them through your machine, just like shown here.  And then follow the directions to use your double needle. 

HINT:  You don’t have to have 2 spools of the same color.  The second spool could always be a loaded bobbin, in case you don’t want to purchase 2 full spools of a color you may not use very often.



Now, are you still worried whether or not your machine can work with the double needle??  If it can do a zig-zag, it can probably function with the double needle.  Just be SURE to use your zig-zag presser foot.  Not sure what that is?  It looks like this.  And has a wide open mouth to let the needle go back and forth for the zig-zag.



And there are different widths of double needles (how far apart the two needles are) but be sure that your double needle fits through that opening in your zig-zag presser foot.  (This double needle is size 4mm and it’s the only one I use.)



And then sew away……..and create some practice double seams.



Here’s a view from the back.  My bobbin thread was white, so you can see how it looks.  Kind of a funky little zig-zag.



But because of that zig-zag, it allows the fabric to stretch.  That’s why I love using the double needle while sewing knit fabric.  It gives me my nice polished double seam hems……but still allows the fabric to stretch.  (This view is from the back side, to show the zig-zag stretching.)

(Animated image tutorial here.)
So don’t feel left out if you have an older machine or a more basic machine, without that 2nd spool holder.  You can still use that good ol’ double needle.  So go on and give it a try……and fall in love like I have. 
And then make something new! :)
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88 Responses to “Using the Double Needle, WITHOUT the 2nd spool holder”
  1. 1
    Terra says:

    You can also wind a bobbin and use the bobbin as the second spool of thread. Just put it on the little thing on top of your machine that you put it on to wind it. At least, that’s what my high school sewing teacher had me do.

  2. 2
    HW says:

    My spool holder broke a while back and so I just taped it vertically on the back of my machine anyway. Then when I read your double needle tutorial I taped a crochet hook (with the hook side down) next to it and loaded on a bobbin. Works great and is a cheap fix!

    • 2.1
      Alicia Hart says:

      way to go!!! people are so a throw away generation, it’s nice to see someone with some industriousness and creativity. Works just as well doesn’t it?

    • 2.2
      Alayna says:

      I know this is an old comment (and post) but I actually had the exact same thing happen right after my first time using my sewing machine as I really didn’t have a proper place to use my machine at the time. And it was really quite inexpensive to have it fixed, I was super worried about the cost and didn’t even look into it for ages.

  3. 3

    Thank you for posting this. I always thought you needed a special machine for using the double needle. I will have to try this as I have a few things I could really use this stitch for!

  4. 4
    Laura Wiebe says:

    My second spool holder is broken so my Mom taught me the easiest trick that doesn’t involve any taping. Just put a drinking glass on the table behind your sewing machine and drop your spool of thread in the glass. You can then go ahead and thread both needles. Works like a charm.

  5. 5
    jenny says:

    Good to know! Thanks for this post. I didn’t think I could do this because of my machine. Had no idea the double needle was possible (I guess I just didn’t think about it). This is great! Now I don’t need to feel like I must have a serger. I like the zig-zag on the back too. Yay!! I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me!

  6. 6
    Courtenay says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE & NEEDED to read this. THANKS!!!! I teach this in my sewing classes all the time.
    But I love that you have found a solution to those that don’t have the double thread option. But you also,
    visually explained the option of sewing with the double needle so nicely. Thanks I am sharing this link.

  7. 7
    Jo says:

    Such a great post! I was just looking at my machine the other day and wondering why it had two spool holders (duh!) This is perfect for finishing the knit dress I have planned for my daughter!

  8. 8
    Shantel says:

    great post! I am wondering though where you find your double needles? I seem to be having a hard time finding them lately! Even joannes hasn’t had them of late.

  9. 9

    This is a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. 10
    Sherry says:

    thanks for that! I do have a serger, but you can’t serge everything (like swirly tight curves) so this is a good one to try. What I seem to be missing though, is what STITCH setting is used?

  11. 11
    Marie says:

    Sherry, the stitch is just your regular running stitch, usually the first option on your machine.

    Question for Ashley: can you do a tutorial on working with knits? Help with the kinds of thread to use, tension settings, etc. would be VERY helpful. I’m new to knits, and am feeling rather intimidated ~ trial and error usually works for me, but I’ve somehow messed up three separate creations (much to the disappointment of my daughters.) Help?

  12. 12
    Sarah says:

    I love my double needle, but yesterday when I used it my machine kept skipping stitches. I unpicked, rethreaded, and started over but the problem didn’t go away. Any ideas what’s up and how I can fix the problem?

    • 12.1
      smoods says:

      Mine does too! I’ve tried all kinds of combinations of stitch width, tension, and length and it hasn’t helped.

    • 12.2
      Bobbi says:

      Sometimes the issue is a dull needle. Always use a new needle with a new project. Also, using the incorrect thread for the fabric you are using can cause this issue.

    • 12.3
      Sindia says:

      I had that problem too, I just changed the needle for a thinner one and it worked.

  13. 13
    MicheleN says:

    Thanks for the tip. Out of curiosity, what kind of sewing machine do you have and would you recommend it? I’m afraid that I might need a new one soon.

  14. 14
    SydneyB says:

    Another thing I do (because I’m cheap) is instead of buying two things of thread I make another bobbin and use it as my extra spool. Works like a charm, and sometimes I don’t want to have an extra spool of obscure colored thread poking around:)

  15. 15
    corinne says:

    Ashley, you are so brilliant. Thanks for sharing all these great ideas. Love the ideas in the comments, too!

  16. 16
    Alicia Hart says:

    I have been using my double needle and LOVE IT! It’s great for finishing edges on things that are reversible.

    You’ve done a lot of repurposing your own clothing, or hubby’s for kids clothing or totes/projects. It gave me inspiration. I just starting taking my daughters size 4 dresses and cutting them and putting elastic in a new waistline. I reorganize bows and buttons and made skirts that are a size 5/6 for my daughter. By the time she is done with it, it will be a total of 2-3 years she has been able to wear it. I love saving money and keeping a daughter happy because she doesn’t have to give away her treasured item.

  17. 17
    Penelope says:

    I too love my double needle! I used a very narrow one for pin tucks on a blessing gown. And I used one the other day to hem a skirt (repurposed t-shirt to a dress)

    When my littles had lost my detachable post for the second spool, I took a skewer and pushed it into playdough in the hole and let it dry there. Worked well enough until I found the post, which was cause for celebration like ice cream sundaes!

    I really love so much of what you share. I even covered a hole on that dress with the shirred flower. I had never used elastic thread before and I’m excited to try more with it.

    And Sherry… it is a zig zag stitch set at zero width (my machine shows a double needle on the dial). I use a longer stitch for hemming.

    • 17.1
      Alicia Hart says:

      Once you start shirring it’s like a little addiction that spreads. I started making barbie skirts by shirring the top so that the waist was tight and the hip area was loose. Then a couple piece of velcro and yeeha, all done.

  18. 18
    Danielle says:

    I never knew about double needles and I can’t wait to try it! I have always been intimidated by knits but this makes it seem a bit more approachable! Thank you so much for sharing!

  19. 19
    Holly says:

    I just used thread on a spare bobbin and put it on the same spool holder as my main spool. I ran my left side thread (bobbin) to my left needle and my 2nd spool (right) to the right needle. Worked great!

  20. 20
    Brittani says:

    Seriously … I don’t even NEED buttons. I sew almost exclusively for a two year old and a negative-three-month-old. No buttons at all. But I’m going to need to buy a new drawer for my notions box after I get done spending money on that website! :P

    Thank you, I totally love it! Also I love that they name their buttons and they have a Brittani! :)

  21. 21

    Wow. Thanks for an awesome tip. I recently bought a new machine and now I know what to do with that second spool. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a double needle. I learned something new today!

  22. 22
    Debbie says:

    Great idea here. I just wanted to added a tip about double needles. Recently, I broke my last double needle sewing swimsuits for my 2 granddaughters. In a pinch, I followed the instructions in my sewing machine manual for using 2 regular needles side by side and it worked great! I was able to finish the swimsuits on time (last night) and they look awesome.

    My “go to” machine is a vintage Singer Slant O Matic 401A which is a real work horse.

    Have a wonderful day!


    • 22.1
      Heather says:

      I have one of those, too, and tried two needles for the first time recently. Worked great until the threads tangled (and I’m pretty sure I followed the manual’s instructions to the letter). I tried threading the second thread to unwind in the opposite direction, per a comment below and it is staying untangled so far. Phew! I’m not sure all machines have this feature but I’m sure glad ours does!

  23. 23

    Great idea! The very best thread in the bobbin for working with twin needles is wooly nylon. Look for it where thread is sold. It is in the bobbin so don’t worry about having every color. It can be a bugger to get it beginning to wind on the bobbin winder but definitely worth the struggle.
    Wooly nylon is stretchy so it gives and services both needles beautifully. I use this type of needle set up and the wooly nylon when I hem knits and tee shirts. TRY it!

  24. 24
    Christine says:

    What a creative solution! Unfortunately, my sewing machine only has one little hole for the needle to go through (a 1957 Singer Featherweight from my Grandma’s friend), so I can’t try it out on my machine. Last year, I did find out (and quickly bought) there is an attachment that allows it to make a zigzag.

  25. 25
    Dana Nichols says:

    Brilliant! I wanted to use my double needle the other day, but didn’t have the spool holder so I vetoed the idea. Now I know just what to do next time I want to use it! Thanks!

  26. 26
    Kim says:

    This is awesome! Every time I go into Joanns they try to upsell me to the $1K plus serger because of the coverstitch option, although that would be NICE, now I can say “Ha!, I can do it anyway!” Thank you!!!

  27. 27
    Sewil says:

    Thanks for the idea. Your site is just wonderful.

  28. 28
    Lindsay says:

    I’m so excited to try this! Your tutorials are awesome and have caused me to really branch out! I got my double needle today and I have some elastic thread ready to be tried out as well!

  29. 29
    Abi Makes says:

    thanks so much for posting, i never even knew double needle existed, let alone how to use them, until i saw this :)
    my attempts are here –

  30. 30
    Carolyn says:

    Many thanks to you for the information about the double needle. I have been sewing for 61 years, since my mom purchased her first singer machine. I took the classes and was hooked. My first machine was a featherwieght, as someone mentioned earlier. Now just to let you know, that it is never to late for someone to learn a new trick. I did not know about a double needle either. Just checked and my Singer is equiped with 2 spool post and the throttle plate affords plenty of room to try the double needle. I will use the double needle often. Such a blessing. Thanks Again

    Someone mentioned a smaller double needle than a 4mm to use in sewing pintucks. Great idea, I will use that also.


  31. 31
    sewsally says:

    Question: can I use a double needle with my singer? I have not seen one made for singer, do they exist? I really want to use one! So professional looking!

  32. 32

    The tutorial is very interesting. I look forward to try this out on the new Singer 8280 I got for my daughter.

  33. 33
    Revival says:

    Thanks for the brilliant tutorial. Can I use double needles to attach elastic lace on stretch?

  34. 34
    Molly says:

    No matter what I do in terms of threading (thread and bobbin, two spools- one on a dowel taped to the side, two in glasses, threading with the bottommost thread guide and without, all thread tensions and all thread widths) I get one nice even row of stiches and one that skips multiple random stitches (i.e. cannot maintain the second thread tension and it gets bunched up). I’m 100 trials in and REALLY want this to work. Any ideas? (I am on a very basic singer).


  35. 35
    Lela Carlile says:

    I have used a drinking straw to slip over the existing spool holder and cut it to the length I need

  36. 36
    Evie says:

    To prevent tangling, whenever there are 2 spools of thread side-by-side on a spool holder the thread should unwind from OPPOSITE directions, not from the same direction. :)

    • 36.1
      Heather says:

      Thank you, I am going to try that right now!

      • 36.1.1
        Heather says:

        Yes, that worked MUCH better and I have two spools. I could sew for a while before it was a problem but it was still a pain. My machine even has you thread through different spots on the tension disks but it was still tangling. Now I can finish this project without dread.

  37. 37
    Pranita says:

    This is so cool! I bought a twin needle but left it unused for more than a year because I didn’t know how to use it. Very excited to try it out now, so thank you!

  38. 38
    Gigja says:

    Hi, I love my twin needle but the thread always breaks after a short while, it’s very frustrating, so I’m wondering if I am doing something wrong or if it’s the sewing machine or something else?

  39. 39
    kathy says:

    I am pretty new to sewing, but I really want to try out the double needle. My basic singer doesn’t have a second spool, so
    I was looking for a good spot to tape my dowel. I noticed a little plastic disk stuck on top of my machine, and wondered if Singer uses the same cases for their upgraded machines. So I pryed off the disk with a screwdriver, it was glued in. Under it was the place to put the auxiliary spool, yea! Can’t wait to get the replacement part I ordered and try it out, and I can always use your great dowel fix!

    • 39.1
      Suzanne says:

      Kathy — you are brilliant. I borrowed your idea on my Singer and pried off the plastic disk. Sure enough, there was a slot for an auxiliary spool. Thanks for sharing your clever idea.

  40. 40
    Karen says:

    Thank you for this innovative and creative solution to a potential problem! I took your advice and created a second spindle. I used a cosmetic brush (fan bristle type) with a thin, smooth handle. I cut off the brush bristles and stuck the handle in the hole just to the right of the bobin winder spool on top of my machine. When winding a bobbin I have to take it out, as it fills the little space needed to shift the bobbin to the right to lock it down for winding. Otherwise, I can happily use that little hole for my second spindle. I didn’t have my double needle yet, but I tried threading both colors through the single needle just to take it for a trial run. It sewed beautifully, making a very pretty two colored zigzag stitch. That in itself could be used creatively for a pretty two color top stitched seam. All in all, I love the fact that my machine can now use a double needle. VERY COOL. Thank you so much!

  41. 41
    Jane says:

    Do you have to have a double needle made for knits or can you use a universal double needle? The reason I ask is because when I went to the fabric store I could only find what is called a universal double needle.

  42. 42
    Ase Randi says:


    I have another tip to share, if one have two sewing machines. (I inherited my mother in law’s old machine, which is even older than mine). I simply put one machine behind the other, and use the spool holder of the other machine as the second spool holder.

  43. 43
    Danielle says:

    I am new to sewing and had a question about this tutorial. If I understood it correctly, to make the double hem you will need a double needle, 2 of the same color threads, and a zig zag presser foot? Therefore, if I wanted to make a single straight stitch once I was done with the double needle, I would need to change back to the single needle and regular presser foot? Can you leave the zig zag presser foot on there and change out the needle to make a straight single stitch? Since the regular presser foot that came with my machine allows me to do a zig zag stitch (without the zig zag presser foot) when else would I use the zig zag presser foot?

  44. 44
    ruqayyah says:

    Hi there, I’m just so glad i choose ur site/blog. thanks soooooo much. Your tutorial’s such a hit I’d rate it 10 stars out of 5. Pls how can i purchase those fabulous double needles, i live in Nigeria

    • 44.1
      Toju says:

      I also live in Nigeria. I buy my sewing accessories on Amazon whenever I have friends or relatives travelling… then I ship to their hotels to bring back for me. The only problem is whenever a needle or accessory breaks I virtually weep because it’s not like I can rush to the corner store to grab one!

  45. 45
    Cass says:

    thank you for this amazing piece of logic!! I have never used a twin needle before, but knew my machine could, and purchased everything I needed this week to make tights … including a twin needle. but today, I can’t find my spool pin – it is lost in the abyss that is my sewing stuff. SO … I’m no longer frustrated and I’m off to stick something onto my machine!!!

  46. 46
    Irena says:

    Brilliant. Love your tutorials. And all the comments learnt a lot thank you to all you lovely ladies .

  47. 47
    Etta says:

    I purchased my Sears Kenmore 40 years ago with a double needle. I have used that needle a lot right from the start.It has two posts for thread and two sets of tension discs for the needles. I have used it for many projects. Love your tutorials and great posts by other ladies.

  48. 48
    Emily says:

    This is a great idea but you have to watch that extra spool of thread. It can get sucked up by and wound around your hand wheel which can do a number on your machine… (the dealer told me horror stories about it in my sewing classes for my new machine). Maybe use an empty spool for the bottom? Thanks for the tips!

  49. 49
    Melanie says:

    I just saw another tutorial that said if you load your two spools of thread (or bobbins) with one unwinding from the top and the other unwinding from the bottom, the threads don’t tangle so much. I haven’t tried it, but it might be worth checking out.

  50. 50
    Anonymous says:

    Think this is a dumb question, but new to using sewing machine, do you still have to use the bobbin, when using double needles ??? confused, thanks in advance

    • 50.1
      Anonymous says:

      A bit of caution when using a double needle: Be sure your machine foot will accommodate a zig zag, as well as the throat plate. Otherwise you will have a broken needle. Many, if not all, Singer Featherweights came with a zipper-type foot and a straight stitch throat plate. To “Anonymous” – there are no “dumb questions”, we all have to learn by asking questions. Yes, you still have to use a bobbin when using a double needle. Also, a double needle does not take the place of a serger. Everyone who sews needs a serger – they are great! Shirley

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