What Is a Cover Stitch Sewing Machine?

    by A. Elizabeth Freeman

    About the Author

    Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for OffOffOnline.com and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.


    A cover stitch sewing machine lets a home-sewer produce professional quality garments. Garment makers use the cover stitch to complete the hem on pants, shirts and skirts. The stitch consists of two rows of thread with a third thread looping around them. While some sergers may have a cover stitch feature, busy sewers may prefer to own a separate machine dedicated to the cover stitch.


    A cover stitch sewing machine produces the cover stitch for hems and for joining seams on knitwear. On the outside of the garment, the stitch consists of two rows of stitching. On the inside, the two rows are connected with an overlock stitch. The cover stitch requires two needles. The width of the stitch varies depending on what is being sewn, from narrow (3 mm) to wide (5 or 6 mm). Many cover stitch machines can also make a chain stitch. The chain stitch uses one needle and produces a straight line of stitching on the outside of the garment and a braided chain of stitching on the inside.


    Like sergers, cover stitch sewing machines use three or four spools of thread. The machines typically have differential feed, meaning the sewer can adjust the speed at which the top and bottom fabrics move through the machine, to achieve an even hem or a gathered or ruffled hem.


    A cover stitch sewing machine comes in handy for the seamstress who makes a great deal of clothing. A small business owner who designs and stitches garments would benefit the most from owning a cover stitch machine in addition to a serger, since she could switch from one machine to the other without adjusting stitches or removing the knife from the serger. A person who does not need the extra features of a serger but would still like to produce clothing with a professional finish would benefit from the simple features of a cover stitch machine.

    Types of Thread

    While most types of thread can be used in a cover stitch machine, serger thread made of spun polyester and sold on a cone performs the best, according to the manual for the Baby Lock Cover Stitch machine. Make sure that each spool of thread used at the same time is made of the same material and thickness to prevent fraying in the machine.


    Optional accessories are available for many cover stitch sewing machine models. For instance, special feet are designed to make gathered hems, pintucks or sew bias tape. A gathering foot and a foot for making cording are available for the some cover stitch machines.