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The modern flair of twin needle quilting – embrace the zigzag


In our previous posts using SCHMETZ twin needles we looked at how to let your walking foot workits magic as well as free motion quilting.


Exploring a variety of quilting methods using SCHMETZ twin needle.
Exploring a variety of quilting methods using SCHMETZ twin needle.


Today we’ll use both of these techniques as we embrace the appearance of a zigzag.

How a twin needle makes a stitch

As we learned in part one, to make a stitch with a twin needle our sewing machine requires threethreads, two through the needles and one bobbin.

When the single bobbin thread catches both the right and left needle it forms a bridge between the two.

This gives the appearance of a zigzag stitch on the back even when you are doing a straight stitch.


Back of 1.6 straight line stitching
Back of 1.6 straight line stitching


The wider the space between the needles the more pronounced this false zigzag is.


The false zigzag formed by the bobbin thread is very noticeable on the back of straight line stitching with a 4.0 twin needle. Using SCHMETZ twin needle.
Back of 4.0 straight line stitching


Make the appearance of a zigzag work for you

We can choose to minimize the appearance of the zigzag by using a narrow twin needle.

A backing fabric with a busy print will also help hide the stitching.

I choose to embrace the zigzag and let it become part of my quilting design.

After all, we have already decided to do something unusual by using our twin needle for quilting.

If using a printed backing choose a thread color to accent the print so that your stitching will show.


Don't hide the bobbin thread, highlight it by choosing a thread color to accent your backing fabric. Using SCHMETZ twin needle.
Accent the colors in the print


Gridwork that alternates between stitching from the front and back makes wonderful use of the decorative element created by the bobbin thread.


Diagonal grid that alternates stitching from the front and back
Diagonal grid that alternates stitching from the front and back


We can highlight the appearance of a zigzag by adjusting the threading or stitch settings on our sewing machine. Some examples below, from left to right:

Thread the needles with one color and the bobbin with another for a more visible ladder effect.

Tighten the top tension and shorten the stitch length.

Thread the needles with one color and the bobbin with a contrasting color. You’ll get the look of a bordered satin stitch.

Use three of the same color threads and slightly loosen the top tension for a honeycomb appearance.

Variegated thread in the bobbin will give a different appearance, sometimes subtle sometimes extreme.

A wide twin needle, a slightly reduced top tension and all three threads the same color will create a pronounced honeycomb.


The appearance of the bobbin thread changes dramatically when we thread with different colors or make adjustments in tension or length to the stitch. Using SCHMETZ twin needle.
Adjust the stitch settings or thread colors to highlight the zigzag


Matchstick quilting stitched from the back looks completely different.

Be sure to draw frequent positioning lines on the back to keep this stitching square on the front.


Matchstick quilting looks completely different stitched upside down
Matchstick quilting looks completely different stitched upside down


Embrace the zigzag and twin needle free motion quilt your design from the back.



Accent whimsical free motion quilting by stitching from the back
Accent whimsical free motion quilting by stitching from the back


It’s OK to practice! Start with something small. Your friends will all wonder “how did you do that?!”

Join me again tomorrow for our final installment of the week as we double the fun and use our SCHMETZ twin needles for quilting with decorative stitches.


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Free motion quilting with a twin needle – instant ribbon stippling magic

Julie Plotniko is a quilting teacher, blogger and designer from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Teaching for almost 40 years, recent credits include Quilt Canada 2016 and 2017, many quilt guilds and groups throughout Canada and CreativFestival Sewing and Craft Shows in Victoria, Abbotsford and Toronto. When not on the road Julie works and teaches at Snip & Stitch Sewing Center in Nanaimo, BC. Her favorite things include free motion quilting (standard bed and mid-arm machines), precision piecing, scrap quilting, machine embroidery, blogging, designing and of course teaching. Julie believes that to see a student go from tentative beginnings to having confidence in themselves and their abilities is one of the greatest rewards that life has to offer.


  1. Sandy Allen

    I have a twin needle and didn’t know how to use it. Now I do thanks to these posts!

    • Hi Sandy
      I’m glad you enjoyed the information in this post.
      You might also want to look at my series More fun with twin needle quilting – creating a needle organizer.
      Check it out at QUILTsocial.

  2. Carrie C.

    I love all the tips and tricks. Can’t wait to read patt 5!

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