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Cover-Stitch 101

>> Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Read this in Bahasa

I am compelled to write this post to answer questions from readers about cover-stitches - a well-known seams used for the finishing of a "tudung"  (head-cover with ready awning) made from lycra or jersey fabric.

(photo: cover-stitches on t-shirt)

Cover-stitch is also known as "tshirt-seams" or double-stitch, as how some Malaysians  have renamed it. It came to my understanding, that the name originates from the overlock loop-stitching which "covers" and prevents fabric from fraying, and not the "double and parallel" stitches of the other side of view.

I remember, cover-stitch was made known to public when wearing "tudung awning" was once became popular, and that both jersey and lycra fabrics would require cover-stitching for the raw edge finishing. While many have not aware that, cover-stitch have longed been used for seaming our daily garments such as t-shirts, skirts and pants.

Cover-stitch consists of 2 rows of parallel stitches on one side, while lopping and overlocks both threads from the other. It overlocks the edge of raw fabric from inside, to prevent it from fraying.

2 straight stitches on top view.

A cover-stitch machine came with 2 needles and use 3 or 4 spools of threads - a pair to form the pair of straight stitching of the outer side, and the rest to form overlock-looping from the inside.

overlock stitches on the inside

Many would wonder if a combination of one-needle straight sewing machine and an overlock would result the same. Take a piece of a jersey fabric and form 2 parallel straight stitches on a side, and you will understand the struggle and why it is not possible. I knew it, because I have tried it, once ;)

So how does cover-stitch differs from an overlock machine? Overlock machine has built-in knife function that helps raw edge trimming during stitching, while cover-stitch machine doesn't have any. If such trimming is required, it has to be done manually with a scissor. Normal overlock stitching are  done on an edge of a fabric while overlocks of the cover-stitch machine can be formed anywhere on a fabric. The edge of a raw fabric (to be overlocked) need to be folded if using the cover-stitch.

manual trimming using scissor
overlock stitches (top) and parallel straight stitch (bottom) of a tudung

It is a lot convenient to form overlock stitches using the industrial cover-stitch machine as compared to the portable, especially for the finishing of a tudung, which are designed to have with "round" and "corners" edges. I would normally use pins after each folds, or sometimes perform temporary hand-stitches prior to finishing it using the cover-stitch machine.

my "babylock" cover-stitch portable


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Ros Ros
Passionate about sewing, embroidery and crafts, love to read and write, to give and receive, and to self-nurture. 
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