Overcasting Stitch for Fabric Finishing

These days, it’s not uncommon for home sewers of garments to use a serger to finish the edges of fabric.  A serger is a specialty machine used with multiple big cones of thread that is especially useful to sew knits, as it sews the seam and finishes the edges as the same time. Serged seams give a store bought look to the inside of a garment, and make a neat, sturdy finish that prevents unravelling of the fabric.

Are you a person who is quick to buy all the possible equipment, machines and gadgets for your craft?  I’m not – expense, space availability, and difficulty of use are some factors to consider.  I don’t have a serger, and would have to believe I really need and will use one before I buy one.  I think if I had a dedicated sewing room, and wanted to sew knits instead of wovens, I’d be more likely to buy a serger.

Arrow pointing to overcasting stitch

I sew with an inexpensive basic Brother machine.  I have finished seams in simple tops by a clean finish (turning and sewing), and by mock french seams.   I started to sew a shirt with sleeves and facing, and I needed a seam finish that would lie smooth and not add bulk.  The pattern recommends a 3 step zigzag, but I didn’t like the way it looked.

Previously, I had bought a special overcasting or overedge foot.  overcasting foot bar and rudder

It has a little piece of metal that is lined up with the edge of the fabric.  Used  with the overcasting stitch, number 17 on my machine,  it produces a finish that I am pleased with.

facing with overcast stitch

finished seams with overcasting foot While this stitch is very slow for a machine stitch, and uses a lot of thread, it produces a finish for the raw edge of fabric that looks similar to a serged edge. I did have a mishap when I started experimenting with the overcasting foot – I broke a needle!  The stitch width has to be turned all the way up to keep the needle from hitting the bar in the foot.  Oops!


Have you ever sewed a seam that looks good, and you turn it over and it’s a mess? That’s what happened to me sewing the hem on a shirt sleeve.  The lousy side is the side that is seen on the outside of the shirt.  Yikes!

uniform stitcheswrong side of fabric with bad stitches

Since it was the underside of the sewing, my first thought used to be that there was a problem with my bobbin, or perhaps my tension was off.  Now the first thing I check is the top threading of the machine.  I carefully rethreaded, and my stitches were back to normal.  I love it when a sewing machine problem is so easy to solve!

In this case, I had previously unthreaded the machine to wind a bobbin, and had made a  mistake in threading, something I don’t usually do anymore.  In fact, my machine and I are getting along really well lately, and I was able to finish my shirt.

6 thoughts on “Overcasting Stitch for Fabric Finishing

  1. KerryCan

    I’m impressed with your sewing knowledge and skill. I sit down at a sewing machine and just fritz out. I know if I practiced more, I’d get better but it’s so frustrating!

    1. Stitch It Again Post author

      Well, I’m still a beginner but I’m improving. That’s why I don’t want a serger; I’d rather master the machine I already have, and try out new feet.

  2. seweverythingblog

    Your overcast stitch turned out really nice. I would’ve thought the fabric might tunnel – but it didn’t!


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