If you look at most t-shirts and knit tops, they are hemmed with a cover stitch machine. At first glance, the cover hem looks very similar to a hem finished using a twin needle in the sewing machine; with two rows of stitching on the right side of the garment. The backside of the stitch is where the difference lies. The backside of a twin needle hem resembles a zigzag stitch, while the backside of a cover stitch looks like an overlock stitch and is used to finish the raw edge of the fabric.
In this tutorial, I’ll be using the Brother 2340CV Cover Stitch machine. The cover stitch is a very professional looking hem and the cover stitch machine is so simple to use! All you have to do is run your fabric through the machine and it hems and finishes the backside all in one step. Let me share a few tips with you for cover stitching success!
Press the Hem
It is important to press the hem before running the fabric to the machine. A nice crease at the hemline will prevent the fabric from twisting while stitching:
• Turn up the hem to the backside of the garment
• Press and use steam
• Use a tailor’s clapper to create a crisp crease
Choosing a Cover Stitch machine
Similar to a serger / overlock machine, the cover stitch machine can hold up to three needles and has a lower looper. Here we use the Brother 2340CV Cover Stitch machine.
These are the stitches you have to choose from:
2-thread narrow cover hem
2-thread wide cover hem
3-thread cover hem
The looper remains the same for all three of these stitches and the needles are very easy to move around.
• Line up the fold of the hem with one of the seam allowance guides on the cover stitch machine
• As you start stitching, usually left hand to guide the fabric and keep it aligned with the seam allowance line. DO NOT STRETCH THE FABRIC!
• Trim off any excess hem allowance, being very careful not to cut into the stitch or through the garment
That’s it! That is really how easy it is to create a professional looking hem from the front side and finish the raw edge of the fabric from the wrong side, all in one step. There might be a few things that need tweaking depending on the fabric, so let me share some troubleshooting tips with you.
What if you run your fabric through and everything seems to be stitching great, but when you pull the fabric out of the machine the hem is all rippled or wavy? This is usually a case that the fabric has been stretched. If you were very careful not to stretch the fabric as the fabric was fed through the machine, then check stitch length settings, the differential feed and/or the presser foot pressure.
Stitch Length – Increase the stitch length to a 4.0.
If the stitch length is too narrow, the fabric will tend to stretch. This is a very common problem in lightweight knits. Run the fabric through one more time with the longer stitch length and see if that has solved the problem.
Differential feed – Adjust the differential feed.
The differential feed controls how fast or slow the feed dogs move in comparison with the stitch. If you’ve ever gathered fabric with an over lock machine, you know what I’m talking about. Experiment with the differential feed settings and again test the stitch.
Presser foot pressure – Raise the presser foot pressure.
If the stitch length and differential feed did not solve the problem, try raising the presser foot up a little higher. The presser foot can be raised or lowered and should be adjusted depending on the thickness of the fabric. The knob for the presser foot pressure is on top of the machine. Simply turn the knob to the right to lower (or tighten) or to the left to raise (or loosen).
Skipped Stitches – Change the needle.
Skipped stitches can really be a problem because the back side of the hem will unravel. It might not unravel right away, but after a few washing your beautiful cover stitch hem will all come out. Analyze the rows of stitching and see if there’s one particular row that consistently has skipped stitches. Determine which needle coordinates with that row and change that particular needle.
The cover stitch is really simple and hopefully these tips will help you on your next hemming project!