Monday, January 1, 2001

Coverstitch: The Basics

What is a coverstitch?

A coverstitch is the twin or triple needle stitching you see on the hems of most ready-to-wear (RTW) knit garments. The top looks like parallel rows of straight stitching and the underside looks like serger loops which *cover* the turned down raw edge. Sometimes the "wrong" or loopy side is sewn on top as a design feature, especially in activewear.

Coverstitch machines can also stitch single needle chain stitches.

Are there coverstitch machines for the home sewer?

Yes. Many top-of-the-line sergers/overlockers have a coverstitch option. However, there are also currently 4 brands of stand-alone coverstitch machines, Babylock (which I have), Brother, Janome and Bernina.

There are subtle differences among all of the above machines, including price, available stitches, features, and accessories. Click HERE for a comparison chart.

There are also industrial coverstitch machines available to the home sewer which have even more stitching options, such as coverstitch loops both top and bottom at the same time.

Why would I want a stand-alone coverstitch machine?

Sergers/overlockers with a coverstitch option must be converted from overlocking to coverstitching. Some machines convert more easily and faster than others, but all combo machines *must be* switched over somehow in order to coverstitch. Because a coverstitch can be used on the garment in places other than just hems and because some sergers/overlockers are convoluted to convert, it becomes a time and hassle factor to keep switching back and forth between overlocking and coverstitching during the construction of a garment. A stand-alone coverstitch machine is always ready to coverstitch and keeps your serger/overlocker always ready for its best task. Stand-alone coverstitch machines also produce more consistent and pleasing coverstitches than combo machines because they are built and engineered for just this one task. This means the stand-alone machine's foot and the space for it do not have to be "second fiddle" to a serger/overlocker's knives and feed dogs.

How about accessories?

Most of the above 4 brands of stand-alone home coverstitch machines have custom accessories available. These include specialty feet, binders, fellers, and beltloopers. See the Comparison Chart.

In addition to buying "brand name" accessories from your dealer, generic "industrial" attachments can also be purchased on Ebay for considerably less cost. See the "Where to Buy" info on the General Tips page. The generics fit the Babylock without any modification and are nearly identical to the Babylock branded accessories. Slight modification and/or "rigging" is sometimes required to fit the generics onto the other home machines, but owners of all brands have reported success with attaching and using the generics. See the General Tips page for more info.

What is a binder?

A binder is an attachment for creating and attaching bindings in one pass on a coverstitch machine. You feed a precut strip of fabric through the binder and it folds the strip around the edge of a second piece of fabric, such as a neckline or sleeve hem, while you coverstitch the binding into place. Binders are available for a variety of finished binding widths and work so well that binding is a breeze!

This is one of the Babylock branded binder attachments for the Babylock Coverstitch machine:

And this is one of the industrial generic binder attachments I purchased from an Ebay seller. There is absolutely no difference (except price!) in design or functionality between the generics and the binders sold by Babylock dealers.

Below is a Brother branded binder attachment.

This is the Janome branded binder attachment, along with the plate needed to attach the binder to the Janome CP 900/1000.

Below are binders which will fit onto many overlocker/sergers with a coverstitch option. Some are "plain" or single-fold, and others are "2 fold" or double-fold. Plain binders will fold the binding strip in half, leaving the raw edges flat and unfolded (unfinished). The 2 fold binder will fold the binding strip in half and will fold under both raw edges resulting in the clean, folded finish you're probably more familiar with.

These are made by Babylock for the Evolve:

Below are examples of some of the generic versions. The attachment plates are adjustable and/or removable to adapt to your particular overlocker/serger and/or stand-alone coverstitch machine.

What is a beltloop folder?

A beltloop folder is an attachment which feeds a strip of fabric, turns under both raw edges toward center while you to coverstitch down the center of the folded strip. Belt loop sections can then be cut from the longer strip and applied around a waistband using your usual method.

What is a feller?

A feller (or folder) is an attachment which turns a hem, either single or double-fold while you coverstitch the hem into place. Because the fold down is precisely aligned with the stitching, no trimming from the reverse is necessary. Fellers are available to downturn and upturn, in a variety of hem widths.


  1. Debbie, which is the best size binder to start with for tee shirts and bathing suit edges? I would love a 3/8 - 1/2" size but can't seem to find one. I am thinking a style a type? Thanks so much....Lisa

  2. Is a feller/folder the same thing as a hemming guide? I'm looking at stand alone coverstitch machines and some say "feller accessory" and some say "hemming guide type 1 and type 2 accessory"

  3. Those Type 1 and Type 2 accessories are for the Janome coverstitch machines and are not quite the same as fellers. I don't have a Janome or those accessories so I can't really comment on the differences.

  4. Debbie,
    I can't thank you enough for all your pictures & sharing experience here! I am today the new owner of a Janome Coverpro 900 @ a great price & hope to jump right in to trying some knit projects. I already had a serger, so am comfortable with that machine. I am going to love what you've shown this machine can do. I will start practicing on some of my kids hand-me down t-shirts & make up some simple tote bags. Do you feel an extension table is a necessary addition?

  5. Thank you for creating and maintaining these and other coverstitch-info pages. This is truly a valuable resource.


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