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A Complete Guide to Coverstitching Sewing Machines

Do you struggle to achieve a genuinely professional hem on your garments? Many people think they need a serger or an overlocker, but a coverstitch machine can make it incredibly easy to finish hems and work with jersey-knits and activewear. While sergers might seem less expensive, the time you save can make it preferable to opt for a coverstitching sewing machine.

What Can a Coverstitch Machine Do?

Coverstitch machines can work with one to three needles and always have a looper thread that creates a stable hem or stitch. The loop thread is what makes the coverstitch different from an overlocker or a serger. With a one-needle coverstitching machine, you'll see a sturdy chain stitch on top of the fabric and the looping underneath. 

However, the two-needle and three-needle stitches are often what home sewers want to achieve that desirable and professional look. It creates two or three parallel lines on the top of the fabric and the looping produced on the backside. The two-line hem is the standard t-shirt hem that is known as the trademark professional hem. 

What You Need to Know about a Coverstitching Machine

If you have experience with a sewing machine, then a coverstitcher won't be much different. Coverstitch machines are the middle ground between a regular sewing machine and a serger. Typically coverstitch machines will have four threads, three top threads, and a looper. But, if you're looking to save money, you might choose a three thread option that still offers a double stitch option and has the looper underneath. 

Then there's the matter of tension. All coverstitch machines use either a dial or a lever to control the tension. The tension will change depending on the type of material and garment you're handling. Fleece and sweatshirts often demand less tension, so they don't cinch, but Jersey or knit Fabrics don't need that adjustment from the standard-setting. 

Finally, the adjustable presser foot pressure is a bit off from what most sewing machines have. But it does make it easier for them to hem anything. Thick sweaters and blankets to lightweight drapes are a breeze because you can simply adjust the presser foot pressure.

Accessories and Extras

Sewing machines have an almost endless volume of presser feet and extra attachments. And if you buy a sewing machine without a coverstitching feature, you will be able to purchase a coverstitch attachment and add it to any sewing machine. Fortunately, coverstitching machines have very few accessories or gadgets available. Although one of the complaints about coverstitching machines is that they're expensive, you're not going to have to go out and buy anything else for this machine. You should already have a hem ruler, pins, and other classic accessories for home sewers.

The only thing is that you might need for a coverstitching machine is a pack of Post-its. Money at home crafters and filters will use posted as a hem guide or a stitching guide. If you stitch over it, then you know you've gone too far, but it's as easy as pulling the Post-It out of place. 

Most coverstitching machines come with all of the feet options available for that model. Unlike a sewing machine where you have to go out and buy individual feet, you shouldn't have to go looking for a specialized foot for anything with a coverstitching machine. When coverstitching in the round, you should use the clear foot, whereas you should use the standard foot when you're topstitching. 

The Flat Hem 

The flat hem is what most people believe they'll achieve through a serger, and it is possible. But, with a coverstitch machine, it's less effort. Coverstitching machines are often very easy to thread, and because they're single-purpose machines, all you need to do is run the fabric through. 

For a basic flat hem, you fold the hem over toward the wrong side of the fabric and then catch the hem under the needles of the coverstitcher. Use the leading edge and ensure that both, or all, of the needles, can pierce through both layers of fabric at the appropriate distance from the edge. 

Start stitching and go until you reach the other edge of the fabric. When you're done, use a thin object to pull the needle threads from between the feed dogs and the presser foot. Always leave a bit of space when you cut the threads. Knot the ends, and you’re good to go! 

Rounded Hems

Most of the struggles with garments come in hemming the rounds. Necklines, skirts, and sleeve edges offer a bit of a challenge because those edges lay flat when professionally finished. The same process happens as with the flat hem. You must fold the hem into place with the appropriate allowance. Ideally, you'll press this hem and pin it down. Unlike straight edge hems, a rounded hem will generally lift and cinch. 

Start your rounded hems right near a seam, so the start and endpoints aren't so apparent. Then make sure that the needles straddle the cut edge. Then, stitch all the way around until you overlap over some of the beginning stitches. 

Handling Coverstitching Challenges

One of the challenges that people don't see coming is that it's difficult to undo a coverstitch. The stitching in these machines is meant to withstand all the tugging and pulling that comes with well-worn clothing. But, once you know how to unpick a coverstitch, it's pretty easy. Unravel in the opposing direction, and don't cut the threads, instead loosely pull them out of place by holding the one needle thread, then handling the looper thread on the other hand. 

Wavy hems can be problematic with a coverstitching machine. Although cover stitches are excellent for working with Jersey or knit fabrics that tend to stretch and pull, making a hem with a piled, thick, or slippery fabric can often cause a causeway to beat hems. To overcome this, you can loosen the presser foot, or opt for lightweight using or interfacing tape to hold the position while you sew it. 

GoldStar Tool

At GoldStar Tool, we try to make sure that you can find the best sewing machines all under one roof. Our sewing machines are pulled from the best manufacturers and put into one easy and convenient place so that if you need a coverstitching industrial sewing machine, you can find it alongside a domestic sewing machine that only covers the basics. Contact our customer service team if you have any questions or cannot find the right sewing machine for you!