How To Use a Twin Needle to Mimic a Cover-Stitch Hem
Those two rows of stitches on t-shirt (and other knits) hems are not just for looks — but they do look cool, too! They allow the garment to stretch without breaking the stitches. Most commonly, these stitches are made with a cover-stitch machine. But in this free video sewing lesson from Craftsy instructor Angela Wolf, she shows you how to achieve an identical stitch (from the outside) with your own home machine! Watch it below, then make sure to check out her class, Tailoring Ready to Wear for 25% off!
Hi, I’m Angela Wolf. I’m a sewing instructor on Craftsy.com. I’m going to show you a quick tip here. Do you ever wonder how to get that really cool hem on t-shirts and knits? Not just t-shirts, but knit slacks — anything with stretch. How do you get that hem?
Well, here I have just a shirt that’s hemmed. You see the two rows of stitches. Underneath, it looks like this. It’s a cover-stitch machine. They’re really not that that expensive anymore. But in case you just can’t decide that you can jump the gun and get one of those yet, I’m going to show you how to do this same stitch. It appears like this on the outside, and it even stretches. That’s the whole reason for this because, look, it stretches. See that? It stretches, and it doesn’t break. If you would have done with a straight-stitch and pulled it like this, it would have broken.
So let me show you what you need for this: a twin needle, which you can see in stores and comes in two sizes. This is the narrow, and there’s a wide. I think there’s even one that’s even wider now, from what I’ve heard. But this is what it looks like. It’s two needles, and it goes into a regular sewing machine. You don’t have to have a special machine. It slides right in where your needle goes. The other thing is the needle-plate. A lot of us have two different plates that come with their sewing machines now. One has a real narrow dot here. This is for sewing with silks and really lightweight fabric because when you stitch, your fabric can’t bulk inside there. I know we’ve all had that happen, especially when we’re doing rolled hems.
So look on the machine here. This one’s a little wider. You can do a zig-zag stitch with that. So that is the plate that you would want. Don’t use this, because if you do, this is what happens. See that? There’s no way for that needle to get around. And needles will go flying.
Let me show you how easy this is. Remove your sewing machine needle that you’re using, which is just a single needle. And go ahead and put in this twin needle. It goes in just like your regular needle. Now if your sewing machine has the feature to press “twin needle,” go ahead and press “twin needle.” But if it doesn’t, don’t worry. But only do a straight-stitch. Do not do a zig-zag. Do a straight-stitch. And for a really good-looking stitch on a knit top, choose like a 4.0 or a 4.5. It looks the nicest. If you use a real small one, it kind of stretches your knit out, which is not very attractive. I’m going to atttach my foot here. Just a regular machine foot.
So here’s the fun part: threading this. You use two spools of thread. If your machine will not let you put two spools of thread on (like this one has two little slots for me). If it doesn’t have that, if you have a serger, back your serger up and use one of those spools and run it through. Very easy.
So I’m going to take both of these threads. I’m using two different colors on purpose, just so you can see what this looks like. You would obviously use something that would match your top. Here you go. And we’re going to thread the machine with both threads at the same time. Just pretend that they’re just one. Do not use your automatic needle threader. It won’t work on this. So I’ve trimmed my threads.
Now just grab one of the threads. It doesn’t matter which one. And just thread it. There you go. See that? One went through one needle, and don’t worry if you need a pair of cheaters—go ahead and grab them. Or they also have these really cool needle-threaders that are just handheld. Those work great for this, too. But you thread the needle the exact same way you would one needle except you have two threads, and you’re threading both of them. So there’s the other one. Pull it through. Pretty easy.
So here we go. We have our length set to 4.0 on this. I just grabbed a swatch of fabric. So your hem would be folded up like this. You do not need interfacing or anything like that, you’re just folding up your hem. If you find out that your fabric is stretching when you do this, just lower your tension. That’s it. But usually this works just great.
So let’s go. Let’s sew. I’m just going to stitch. So let’s see what we have here. This is quite the combination of colors. But here we go: we have two rows of stitching, which is exactly what we saw. Let me bring my other shirt up here. This is the one from the cover-stitch machine. It looks exactly the same from the outside. Nobody would ever know that you did not use a cover-stitch machine.
Now let’s see if it stetches. It sure does, and nothing’s breaking! So what does it look like on the back? Just a zig-zag! This is the cover-stitch, and this is a zig-zag. Who looks at the inside of your tops anyways, except for you? So it’s the outside the matters.
Again, this is Angela Wolf. And for more tips like this on altering clothes, join me on my Tailoring Ready to Wear class on Craftsy.com!