What Is An Overcast Stitch

It is common knowledge that there are various types of stitches and you can apply them to your fabrics provided that you are skilled in using them. Although, some stitches are best suited for some sewing projects which is why this article is aimed at providing you with the knowledge of a particular type of stitch called the overcast stitch.

You may choose to make your overcast stitches by hand or by machine, depending on your preferences. In recent times, machine sewing is favoured by a lot of sewing enthusiasts. However, you can’t downplay the beauty of hand sewing. You can throw in a couple of decorative stitches to make your hand sewing look more beautiful.

You can use it on fabrics like silk and wool to give the insides of your material a sophisticated look. Also, the overcast stitch is used to finish the edges of household fabrics such as napkins, handkerchiefs, and tablecloths, to mention a few.

What is an Overcast Stitch?

 An overcast stitch is a unique sewing technique to close an unfinished seam or edge. It is usually used in sewing to prevent the unravelling of the fabric ends. Sometimes called whipstitch, is a method useful for stitching a few pieces together, finishing seams, applique and as a decorative element.

How to Make an Overcast Stitch by Hand

Depending on your preferences, you might decide to use hand sewing techniques. Using an overstitch for small sewing projects like napkins and handkerchiefs are usually enjoyable. It is relatively slower than machine sewing, but the speed wouldn’t be a problem when you get the hang of it. The process of making an overstitch by hand and using a machine will be shared in this article

Like all other hand sewing procedures, all you need to sew are;

  • Thread
  • Fabric 
  • Needle

Step 1: Choose the right needle


For a smooth hand sewing experience, it is necessary to use the right needle. Pick a needle that works for the kind of fabric you are stitching. Ensure that the needle isn’t too heavy to light in the type of material you are sewing.

Furthermore, I recommend you use a thread that matches the color of the fabric. Insert your line through the eye of the needle, then make a knot to secure the thread.

The next step is to insert the needle through the fabric just below the unfinished edge. Do this at the wrong side of the material to make the knot less obvious.

Step 2: Loop the thread

Loop the thread over the fabric edge and pass the needle through it. The needle should pass through the fabric from back to front at a small distance from where you first made the first stitch. 

Step 3: Pull the thread 

The next step is to secure the thread tightly. After you have made the first loop, it is crucial to pull the thread to ensure that it doesn’t come apart. However, do this gently so that you don’t crimp or bend the thread’s edges should appear smooth and flat when you are done. This makes your first overcast stitch.

Step 4: Loop the thread again.

Loop the thread over the edges again, pass the needle through, and move the needle from back to front. To make your work easier, let the loop be above the thread (with the hand attached) to wrap itself around the fabric’s edge without forming a knot. Otherwise, it might get rough and messy.

Step 5: Pull again

Pull the thread again to secure it tightly.

sewing machine

Step 6: Repeat

Repeat this looping and pulling steps until the fabric’s entire edge has been finished with the stitches. I recommend you keep your stitch even so that it looks neat and uniform.

Step 7: Ending your stitches

When you get to the end of your fabrics’ side, use a tacking stitch to end your stitches. Do this at the back of the fabric where you would typically take the next stitches. Then, tie a knot to keep it secure

That’s all you need to know to make an overcast stitch. It might take a while to perfect this sewing technique, but with time it gets easier.

How to Make an Overcast Stitch with Sewing Machine

Overcast Stitch with Sewing Machine

Sewing with a machine has several advantages over hand sewing. With a machine, you can sew faster and neater. To make things easier, you should get an overcasting foot. The overcasting foot runs along the edges of your fabric as you sew. It is equipped with a pin or a bar running through the centre. This controls the stitching process, making it appear lovely and flat.

Before you start sewing, you must carefully examine your fabric to determine what kind of overcast stitching to use. It falls into two categories; stretch and non-stretch. Let us start with how to sew an overcast stitch on a non-stretch fabric.

How to Sew an Overcast Stitch on a Non-Stretch Fabric

Sew an Overcast Stitch

Line up the two raw edges of your fabric beneath the overcasting foot you want to start your sewing. Then, sew down the edges. It runs smoothly because of the guide.

Alternatively, you could sew both edges with the overcasting foot separately. After that, you can join them together with a regular seam. It all depends on what you want to achieve with your overcasting stitch.

How to Sew an Overcast Stitch on a Stretch Fabric

Stretch fabric poses some level of difficulty when sewing. As a result, many people use a serger to finish the edges of their stretchy fabrics. An overcasting stitch is a good alternative; however, take special care when sewing.

Use an overcasting stretch stitch to stitch the seam and raw edges at once. Because these stitches are connected differently to the regular stitches, your overcast stitches wouldn’t come apart even when you stretch it.

There are several types of decorative stitches to overcast your fabric. Some of them are

  • Zigzag stitch
  • Knit stitch
  • Tricot stitch
  • Overlock stitch
  • Double overedge stitch

That’s all you need to know to make an overcast stitch with a machine. If done correctly, you can expect a neat and professional finish.

How to Use an Overcasting Foot

The overcasting foot makes your overcast stitch come out faster and with minimal stress. This foot works in combination with an overlocking stitch to produce a neatly finished seam. 

It has a guide bar that keeps the fabric aligned, so the overlock stitches will correctly bind the edge of the hem to prevent fraying. The resulting overcast stitches result looks like serging. However, the product is much better than trying to make an overcast stitch without the overcasting foot.

With an overcasting foot, you will be able to sew a perfect overcast stitch with less stress, and the stitches will be so much more uniform than without it. 

This foot has an edge guide that maintains the material on a straight line for a perfect edge. It also has a ‘pin’ or bars at the centre, so that the fabric lays nice and flat, overcasting the fabric edge without making it bunch up and wrinkle.

Related Questions

Will Overcasting Prevent Fraying?

Will Overcasting Prevent Fraying

Fraying happens when your fabric unravels at the edges. This is characterized by loose threading and messy edges. Overcasting is quite possibly the perfect solution for fraying fabric because overcasting of finishes the edges of the material and encloses it all in one step.

Are Overcast Stitches Used In Embroidery?

Yes, they are, in embroidery, an overcast stitch is a raised line stitch used on even-weave fabrics. You can use it for outlining designs. There are ways to make an embroidered overcast stitch. In the first method, a line is stitched to create padding.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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