Sewing a stretchy fabric like knitwear or a T-shirt is tricky. Firstly, the stitches should be firm so that it does not come out quickly. Secondly, it should not interfere with the unique nature of the garment, i.e. stretching. If you use a regular sewing machine, then the stretching capacity of the garment will be affected. This is where a cover stitch machine comes into the picture.
What Does Coverstitch Machine Do?
A coverstitch machine is a specialized sewing machine that is used to hem knit stretchy fabric like T-shirts, velvet, and stretch cotton. It provides a perfect finish to the garment.
The machine makes use of single, double, or triple needles along with a thread looper below the machine for sewing, which provides strength and stretchiness to the fabric. Some high-end models even have four or five stitch options.
The fabric’s front side comes with one, two, or three rows of running stitches depending on the type of stitch selected. The backside of the fabric has criss-cross lines formed by the looper thread that provides a perfect finish.
Professional sewers mostly use the cover stitch machine for sewing hems on pants, sleeves, and necklines.
Different Types of Stitches in a Coverstitch Machine
A cover stitch machine basically does three types of stitching. The stitches come with a looper underneath to hold the stitch.
- One needle
This is the most simple stitch that can be done with a cover stitch machine. This stitch provides a single line of running stitches on one side with a chain stitch on the other.
- Two needles
This is the most commonly used cover stitch. In this type of stitch, two needles are used to create a narrow or wide stretch of stitches. A narrow stitch is typically used in light fabric and prevents tunneling between stitches. A wide stitch, on the other hand, is used for stitching sturdy fabric.This helps to hold the fabric in place.
The width of the stitches can be adjusted by removing any of the needles. You can remove the left or right needles to create two parallel lines with a narrow width. If you want to make two wider lines of stitches, then the needle in the center can be removed. Whichever method you use, you should remove the needle that is not in use so that it is easy to sew.
- Three needles
Three needle stitch comes with three parallel lines of running stitch on the front side with a complex thread pattern on the other side. This stitch provides strength and stretchiness to the fabric in addition to creating a decorative look. By going for different colored threads, you can create a beautiful yet a perfect finish to the garment.
It is always advisable to stitch using two and three needles in a piece of cloth and then decide which stitch to use on the final fabric.
How to Use a Coverstitch Machine?
Stitching with a cover stitch machine is rather easy. First, fold the hem towards the backside. Now, iron on the fabric so that the hem remains in place.
Next, you should raise the presser foot and place the fabric underneath. While placing the fabric, make sure to line it up with the seam allowance guide. This helps prevent wavy edges and uneven hemming. Once done, you can lower the presser foot and start sewing. While sewing, make sure that the needle is catching both layers of fabric.
Once you reach the end of the fabric (or where you want to stop the stitch), you should raise the presser foot and the needles to the highest point. Now, using some thin object, carefully pull the thread towards you. You can now snip off the thread. To cut the looper thread, pull the fabric along with the thread to the machine’s backside. Cut the looper thread and put a knot.
Common Problems While Using a Coverstitch Machine
- Wavy hems
Sometimes, wavy hems might appear while stitching because of the presser foot stretching the fabric. This typically happens with thick or stretchy fabric. When this happens, you should loosen the presser foot pressure. Basting the hem with a sewing machine also helps to avoid wavy hems.
Tunneling happens when the fabric between two or three rows of stitches raises up, thus creating a mountain-like effect. Tunneling can be rectified by loosening the looper’s tension until the fabric between two rows of stitches becomes flat.
- Using the wrong needles
You should always use the needle as recommended by the machine manufacturer while sewing in the cover stitch machine. Or you can go for needles that work with all brands. While inserting the needle, you should ensure that it sits properly in the needle bar slot before the sewing starts.
- Not threading the machine properly.
While threading the needle, you should ensure that the presser foot is lifted up. This releases the tension plate. If the presser foot is down while threading, you may not get the right tension, and the sewing will not come out properly.
What to Consider Before Buying a Coverstitch Machine?
You should consider the following before purchasing a cover stitch machine.
- Go for a good quality machine
A cover stitch machine is a big investment. You might be tempted to go for a less expensive one to save money. But this can result in a low-quality stitch. If you cannot afford a brand new machine of top quality, you can consider going for a secondhand one. Under no circumstance should you opt for a low-quality machine.
- Check the type of machine
Cover stitch machines come with two-needle and three-needle options. Coverstitch and serger combination machines are also available in the market. There is another type called the top cover stitch machine that can sew decorative double-sided cover stitches. You should consider all these features before finalizing on one. Most of the sewers prefer a double cover stitch machine.
- Check the features of the machine.
The machine you purchase should have a free arm facility so that you can sew narrow sleeves and tubes without much difficulty. In addition to this, you should also check whether the presser foot is adjustable so that you can easily manage material of different weights.
- Check the accessories.
Sewing accessories for a cover stitch machine varies from brand to brand. For eg; elastic presser foot or binder attachment may not be available for all brands of machines. You should check all the accessories available and buy the model that meets your requirement.
- Check reviews online
Before finalizing on a particular brand of cover stitch machine, you should check online for reviews. You can check sewing discussion boards or Facebook groups and decide which brand to go for. Another option is to check Youtube videos that demonstrate the threading and stitching using various brands of cover stitch machine. This helps you to make a wise decision.
Is It Worth to Invest in a Cover Stitch Machine?
If you are a sewer, then a cover stitch machine is worth an investment. But this machine does only one function, i.e. sew hems on stretchy fabric. Thus, you should invest in a cover stitch machine if you stitch a lot on stretchy fabric or knitwear garment. In addition to stretchy fabrics, you can also use it to make jeans, finish necklines, and create decorative seams.
Using a cover stitch machine saves a lot of time as you need not rethread and change over from one machine to another while sewing. Place the cover stitch machine in one corner of your room, and you are good to go.