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What is a Coverstitch?

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by Sara Snuggerud in Sewing Tips

We get asked all the time, “what machine sews this stitch?” as they point to the hem of their T-shirt. This stitch on store bought garments is called a coverstitch. A coverstitch is a professional looking hem that looks like two rows of stitching on the top and a serger like stitch on the back. The benefit of a coverstitch is its stretchability and the covering of the raw edge all in one pass. A coverstitch stretches the maximum stretch of the fabric – think aerobic wear, fleece, sweatshirt fabric, lycra and super stretchy knit fabric.

Coverstitch machines like the Viking Huskylock S-21 and the Viking Huskylock S-25 sergers offer utility stitches for those of you who want everything to look awesome all the time! A coverstitch can be sewn with two needles for a double stitched look or three needles for a triple needle finish.

For most people, the easiest way to achieve a coverstitch is with a serger/coverstitch combination serger. You get TWO machines in one!

For a coverstitch only machine, check out the Bernette B42 Coverstitch Only machine. If you already own a serger, the Bernette B42 is the perfect companion machine. The Bernette B42 will always be set up for coverstitching and the serger is always set up to serge. The ultimate time saver!

 

When coverstitching with two needles the coverstitch can be either narrow or wide. A narrow coverstitch is ideal for lighter weight fabrics and will keep the fabric from tunneling. A wide coverstitch setting is the preferred setting for a bit sturdier or thicker fabrics. It really all depends on the final look desired.

A side benefit of a coverstitch is that if you sew a seam and it is not correct, there is a loop on the back that can be pulled and the stitch practically removes itself! (Don’t worry, there is a secret way to lock this stitch so it will stay put when its perfect).

Of course, if only one needle is used in the coverstitch mode it creates the perfect 2-thread chainstitch! Watch this video to see the chainstitch in action.

Sara’s Time Saving Tip:

When sewing a project or a handful of similar projects, get all the sections sewn to the same step and then switch the serger to coverstitch for an afternoon of coverstitching. This is a much better use of your time than switching back and forth for a coverstitch seam here or there.

Coverstitch machines and stitches are not glamorous. Coverstitch machines at least are 10x easier to operate than when they first arrived for home users.

Not Using the Coverstitch Machine You Own?

If you already own a coverstitch machine and are not using it, we highly recommend the online Craftsy class “Coverstitch: Basics & Beyond” with Gail Yellen.

Lessons include getting familiar with your coverstitch machines, differences between all the hems options, working with bulky seams, coverstitching on difficult fabrics, coverstitching zippers and adding decorative threads to the coverstitch and chainstitch stitches.

This power packed class will guarantee you will master the coverstitch portion of your serger and remind you why and where to use the coverstitch stitches.

Over at SewingMastery.com we have completed videos on three models of serger and coverstitch combination sergers. These video can help you decide which model would be right for you!

7 Comments
  1. Fiona says:

    I have found that a dedicated CoverStitch like my Janome is far superior and much less hassle than the combo machines. I think people should know it exists before fighting to convert a serger.

  2. Connie Fisher says:

    What is the secret to locking the coverstitch hem threads that you mention above?

    1. Sara says:

      Here is a link to one of our videos that has the “secret” way to tie off a coverstitched seam. Go to the 3:00 minute mark to watch. https://youtu.be/Sxo_EObVexs

  3. Sophie says:

    Hi Sara,

    You look like a lady in the know! I don’t suppose you can shed some light on why my coverstitch machine is chewing up 2 layers of fleece, when a single piece works fine?

    Thank you fir you help in advance, I really appreciate it, I’m climbing the walls 🙂

    Kindest,

    Sophie

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Sophie,

      Thanks for reaching out. Your local sewing machine service person would be the best one to ask.

      Sara

  4. AmyInNH says:

    This looks nearly the same as what the front and back looks like using a pin tuck needle. I use pin tuck needles sewing the fabric edge seams on undergarments and it stretches with no issues. Am I missing something about coverstitch?

    1. Sara says:

      Hi,

      You are not missing anything. A coverstitch machine is what is used in the commercial industry. If you like the look of the hem on purchased garments, a coverstitch machine is the answer.

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