September 20, 2014

Perfect coverstitch tutorial

Using a coverstitch machine is the best way to get professional-looking hems on knit garments – if you look at any knit garment from a store, chances are that it’s coverstitched! However,  while coverstitch machines are fantastic, it’s not uncommon to end up with a wavy hem, or stitching that doesn’t exactly catch the back of the fabric. So here is my perfect coverstitch tutorial! Over time and with practice you may be able to skip some of these steps, but they’re a good place to start.

Perfect Coverstitch Tutorial
1. Fuse knit interfacing tape to the entire length of your hem, on the wrong side of the fabric.
2. Serge the raw edge of the hem. This is really going to help with getting a perfect finish!
3. Fold up your hem and press.
4. At the side seam junctions, clip into the serging just up to the needle thread. Push the seam allowance in opposite directions – now, when you fold the hem back up there will only be two layers of fabric at the junction rather than three, and it’ll be much easier to sew over.
5. Use Wonder Tape to temporarily baste down the hem. First you stick the tape to the fabric, the peel off the backing tape and press the hem down.

6. Place the garment right side up on your coverstitch machine, and sew from the right side. Start on a piece of scrap fabric, and then “run on” to the hem (you can cut the scrap fabric off later).You should be stitching directly on top of the serged edge on the other side – you should be able to feel it with your fingers as you feed the fabric through the machine. Optionally, you can first hand baste through the serged edge to give you a guide to follow when you’re on the right side, but I find that feeling the serging underneath works well.

Use a tapestry needle to feed through the serger tails back into the stitching to finish. For the start of the seam, you can either feed the serger threads through in the same way, or pull them through to the back of the fabric and tie them off.
If you’re sewing in the round, like the hem of a t-shirt, it’s pretty easy: you can start anywhere (though I tend to start on the back) – just loosen the threads under your presser foot a little, slide the fabric under (it will create a temporary little loop over the side of the fabric), put the foot down again and start. When you get to the other end, continue over the original stitching by a few stitches. You can then pull the fabric out, leaving tails which you can then pull through to the back and secure with a hand needle.
And you’re done!
Coverstitch tutorial | Cashmerette

18 thoughts on “Perfect coverstitch tutorial

  1. Jenny, thank you for sharing this. I recently started working with knits. Your tips will help me improve my hems drastically.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hope it helps Basya!

  2. Karen says:

    If you are hemming a garment in the round such as at shirt hem, how do you start the seam?

    1. Jenny says:

      Good question! You can start anywhere – just loosen the threads underneath the needle a bit, push your fabric underneath and go. When you get all the way round, go over your original stitching by a stitch or two and you’re done.

  3. Rainpatter says:

    I use double sided fusible tape (1/2 or 1″) for my hems, which gives you the benefit of not having to measure, not having to add fusible interfacing tape, and not having to use wonder basting tape, it does it all at the same time. I never thought of serging the edges since the coverstitch does its own “serge”, does it add bulk to have both on top of each other?

    1. Jenny says:

      I like the wonder tape because if you don’t get it placed exactly right you can re position it but yes fusible tape makes sense as well! I don’t find it adds much bulk to serge and it gives a much cleaner finish than just cover stitching

  4. Gail says:

    This is great, Jenny! I am definitely going to try that scrap fabric trick, because I have trouble with the beginnings of my coverstitched hems coming undone. I think your technique will solve that. Thanks!

    1. Jenny says:

      I hope it helps! A drop of Fray Check never goes amiss either 🙂

    2. Jenny says:

      Though I should have mentioned that if you also give yourself enough thread at the beginning, using a hand needle to take the threads through to the back and securing them is probably the most fail-safe approach to avoiding unraveling

      1. Amity says:

        Bit of a delayed reply but regards the unravelling, if you use woolly nylon as the looper (bottom) thread, it seldom comes undone. Its also nearly impossible to unpck if you make a mistake ask how i know!!! You have to reduce your looper tension to allow for the stretch.

  5. Katy Patzel says:

    Great toot (my shortened lingo for tutorial)!

    1. Jenny says:

      That means something different in UK English Katy ;$

  6. Always helpful to have more tips on how to conquer my coverstitch machine. Just one question… ‘Wondertape’ what is it exactly? Sometimes things are labelled differently down here or I need to find a similar product. Does it wash away after use??

    1. Jenny says:

      hi Lizzy – the wonder tape mention above is a link to the product on Amazon – it’s basically double sided tape that dissolves when it’s washed, and doesn’t gum up your needle. It truly is wonderful!

    2. Yep. That sounds like heaven.

  7. Sarah Beth says:

    Can u please tell me how u secure ur beginning stitch noone on the Internet has gone over that!!

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Sarah Beth – the best way is to use a hand needle to take the threads on the top through to the back, and the knot them or thead them back through a few stitches to secure. At the end of your stitching, you can do the same

  8. Annie says:

    This is great! I like the serging first tip. I was looking at some RTW garments this morning and I noticed that the “higher end” one had a hem that had been serged first. I assumed it was just for looks but I am glad to know it works as a sewing guide as well. Just got a coverstitch last night and your tips will really help!

Let me know what you think!