Use a Twin Needle to Make a Reusable "Corrugated" Coffee Cup Sleeve

comments (13) March 5th, 2014     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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Keep your coffee hot and your hands cool with this reusable corrugated sleeve.
Twin-needle stitching adds subtle detail.
Rows of twin-needle stitches highlight the back of my simple little jacket.
Keep your coffee hot and your hands cool with this reusable corrugated sleeve.

Keep your coffee hot and your hands cool with this reusable "corrugated" sleeve.

Photo: Mary Ray

I think the twin needle is just the best. I've always been a fan of plain straight stitching, and this needle just doubles the impact. I basically use mine to add detail to a garment and to enhance a quilting design. But they're used a lot for heirloom sewing as well. (If you want to learn more about this, check out Martha Pullen's website. She wrote the book on heirloom sewing.) And they're great for hemming knits.

A twin needle is two needles on one shank. They come in a range of sizes and widths. You'll find two numbers on the package. The first refers to the distance between needles and the second indicates the size of the needle. They're available in a stretch version as well, and there are triple needles (called drilling needles), too. But before you run out and get one, be sure your machine has zigzag capabilities and a throat plate that will accommodate both needles. You also need two spool pins. You can wind a bobbin for the second thread source, but it needs to sit on its own pin for proper tension. Thread each needle separately to prevent the threads from twisting as you sew.


Twin and triple needles have one shank with multiple eyes.

I like using the narrow-width double needle to add details. It can turn an otherwise plain fabric into something special and bolster the look of a simple grid-quilted bag.


Twin-needle stitching adds subtle detail.


Rows of twin-needle stitches highlight the back of my simple little jacket.


I used a twin needle to quilt this purse-inspired by some pistachio-studded baklava.

For the cup sleeve we're going to make here, I wanted a raised look, so I used a 3.0mm-width needle. The fabric is cotton stretch twill. (Fabrics will react differently and may require some adjustment to the machine's tension, so always do a test sample). I chose to retain the "corrugated" look and inserted cording through the ridges, which I'll show you in a moment. For a flatter, striped look, simply press the ridges flat.

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Comments (13)

Fabric1869 writes: OMG thats like something out of a scify or horror movie... i didnt know double needles existed!
Posted: 8:57 am on March 26th
MimiSandra writes: Very cool sleeve. What holds the material together? Great idea.
Posted: 9:14 pm on March 8th
Eternal_Clouds writes: thats so cool my parents will totally love cause they are always on the go with coffee cup[s in hand but its always to hot so they have to use a napkin to wrap it with! how wasteful but now i have something to fix it with thanks:)
Posted: 3:37 pm on March 8th
ChildfreeTrophyWife writes: I've had problems finding a place around here that isn't less than 62 miles away to fix my Brother sewing/embroidery machine sooooo I bought a Bernina Activa 210. I bought some twin needles - one that is smaller that I could zig zag with and one that is larger that I can do straight stitching with. The mastery guide classes I took for the machine showed me (I specifically asked about twin needles and brought mine to class to have the teacher show me and give me tips) that we can feed cording through the hole in the needle plate and it will go under the fabric between the stitches so you don't have to do that by hand later. But I think the hole in the needle plate is only so big and won't do too large of a cording size.
Posted: 5:19 pm on October 11th
Judy_H writes: In reply to the Brother machine and the twin needle ---
As long as ANY machine can do a zigzag, you can use a twin needle, I have 4 differen brands of sewing machines and I use the Univeral needles on them and they all work fine.
The only controlling factor would be the width of the throat plate. Take the plate with you when you shop to verify the width will fit the size of the needle you want. But I think
they all would be OK. Good Luck
Posted: 4:24 pm on August 30th
ChildfreeTrophyWife writes: I would love to be able to have the twin needle capability on my sewing machine because this looks so cool. My machine does zig zag but when I looked up accessory feet and needles, etc. on the Brother website they didn't have twin needles for my machine (PE-400D). I'm wondering if it would be a waste of money, and might damage my machine, to buy generic twin needles somewhere. Any ideas on this anyone?
Posted: 8:04 pm on August 27th
MaryRay writes: Hey Everyone,
You need a zigzag capable machine so that the hole in the throat plate will accommodate both needles. If your machine only sews straight, chances are the throat plate has a single small needle hole.
You sew with a straight stitch, but since there is only one thread in the bobbin, it needs to go back and forth between the two top threads, forming a zag-zag looking stitch underneath.
To thread the machine, first thread one needle -- as you normally would. Then thread the other, following the same pattern. If possible, place one thread on one side of the tension disc and the other thread on the other side.
Hope this helps!
Oh, I like the comment about the woolly nylon thread. You can also just press after you've stitched and that will flatten out the channel between the rows of stitches.
Posted: 5:24 pm on August 25th
muttiinc writes: Hello! Mary Ray writes to check your machine for zig-zag nd to see if both needles will fit. When using twin needles is the machine set for a zig-zag stitch? This isn't making sense to me, but the underneath side looks like zig-zag! I love this look and would love to try it!
Posted: 11:53 am on August 24th
Creativeoutlet writes: I love this project. To respond to SusieQP: When using a twin needle I use the two spools and thread the machine the same way I do with one needle. On my Pfaff I can run one thread through the tension disk to the left and one to the right. Both threads must run through the tension disks - I do sew a little slower and my machine has a button to push to use with twin needles but (I think) it is for using twin needles with some of the other patterned stitches. Anyway DO NOT be afraid to break your machine. Most machines are very durable. Enjoy :).
Posted: 11:15 pm on August 23rd
SusieQP writes: Can someone explain to me how to thread the machine for a double needle? I've never done it, and I'm afraid to try it! I have 2 thread spool pins. Do I thread one thread through the machine and down into the needle, and then thread the other thread right over that one as if it is the only thread in the machine? One goes right over the other? It seems that they would get tangled up that way! I'm thinking that I must be missing something... I don't want to wreck my machine.
Posted: 8:11 pm on August 23rd
Karel writes: Love the way you used the cording to get the ribbed effect. To respond to GrammaVal's question about the twin needles for hemming knits: I've done this many times, and the trick is to get some Wooly Nylon thread and GENTLY wind it onto your bobbin BY HAND. Then when you use your twin needle for hemming, the wooly nylon on the back will stretch to allow your stitching to be flat. Otherwise, the zigzag stitch that's formed on the bobbin side has a tendency to pull the two rows of threads together. Of course if you like that raised effect, no need for the wooly nylon.
Posted: 5:20 pm on August 23rd
GrammaVal writes: How do you use twin needles to "hem knits"
Posted: 1:49 pm on August 23rd
keyka writes: Neat cup sleeve and I love that double needle! I didn't know such a thing existed. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 12:06 pm on August 23rd
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