Hemming a Knit Tee with Cover Stitch Machine

April 20, 2016By Angela WolfCover Stitch, Tutorial 18 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

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

coverhem 2

• Press and use steam
• Use a tailor’s clapper to create a crisp crease

coverhem 3

Choosing a Cover Stitch machine

coverhem 5
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:
coverhem 4

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
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• 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!
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• 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.


coverhem 13Wavy Hem
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.

coverhem 21Stitch 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.

coverhem 20Differential 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.

coverhem 5Presser 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).

coverhem 14Skipped 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!
Happy Hemming!



  • I always have difficulty when finishing the hem and then pulling out the fabric from the machine. Is there a trick to it. I have tired using the instructions in the manual and another tutorial I found on UTube but it has not helped.
    I would love any suggestions to smoothly remove the fabric when finished hemming an item.

  • Hi Angela
    Nice informative article.
    My question is what is you advice on how to remove the fabric from the coverstitch machine after finishing sewing a hem.

  • Thank you so much for this blog! Very interesting and surly informative. I’m surely going to enjoy this!

  • A mention of how to start and stop the hem and still keep a nice neat look might be a good addition to your tutorial. I find this to be the trickiest part.

    • Hi Meg,
      I will plan on doing a tutorial of that part with this machine, great idea! For starts, after you finish your line of stitches, which is usually in a circle, lift the needle to the highest position and lift the presser foot. The use your right fingers to loosen the tension release buttons on the top of each tension dial. (slide those to the right to release) then pull out fabric.
      If you are stitching on a fabric strip that is not a circle, simply stitch onto a scrap piece of fabric until you get the first piece of fabric out.
      A tutorial will definitely be helpful 🙂

  • Hello I recently purchased the brother cover stitch. I really enjoy it but would love a tutorial or class on using the extra feet especially the binding attachment. Thank you

    • I just bought the binder attachment for my Brother CV, too. I’d love a binder video, as well. Thanks for your help!!

      • Thanks for the comment, Kathleen! SO glad you’re enjoying Stitching Sewcial. Don’t hesitate to let us know if there are other things you want to learn about! We’ve got more great videos and projects coming your way!

  • l just love my brother over locker and find all the tutorial’s very interesting and just have to go and try all new methods out, would not be without my machine and different feet, keep the good work up.

  • Hi Angela,

    Have you done any other video on how to end the cover stitch when sewing in a circle. I have followed all the instructions you gave on this tutorial plus other UTube videos and the manual and still have difficulty releasing the stitches.

    If anyone has any suggestions, please help!

    • Hi Maria,
      Firstly, please note that the additional parts of your comment I have forwarded to customer service who should be reaching out to you directly for some one-on-one assistance! (They are great!!)
      Secondly, for help with the releasing of the threads, you have two choices.
      1. Stitch from piece to piece, using small scraps between pieces, leaving a scrap in your machine so you never have to pull the stitches out. (See more about this option in the article: Tutorial: How to add a Sporty Coverstitch
      2. I know that we all think twice before tugging, but on the 2340CV, DO as follows:
      Removing the Fabric:

    • Once stitched, move handwheel into the highest position until the needle are all the way up.
    • Raise the presser foot.
    • While firmly holding fabric, slide and hold the thread release buttons to the right on the needle thread to open the tension disc.
    • Slowly pull fabric directly backwards, not to the side.
    • Cut the thread that comes out on the topside of the fabric.
    • Slowly pull the fabric backwards again. This will help lock the threads.
    • Cut the looper thread.
    • Happy Stitching!

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