Coverstitch Vs. Overlock: What Are the Differences?

Last Updated on February 28, 2024

Coverstitch Vs. Overlock: Coverstitch and overlock are two types of sewing machines used for different purposes. An overlock machine is used to sew the edges of fabric together to prevent fraying. It creates a finished edge that is both neat and durable. Overlock machines can also be used to sew seams, but they are primarily used for finishing edges.

Coverstitch Vs. Overlock
Image Source: Heirloom creations, Dreamstime, Canva

In contrast, a coverstitch machine makes professional-looking hems and ornamental stitching on knit textiles. It stitches a double row across the top of the fabric and a single row across the bottom. This stitching is commonly found on t-shirts, leggings, and other knit items.

Here, we will explore the differences between coverstitch and overlock machines, their unique features, and when to use each one. By the end of this article, you can make an informed decision on which machine to use for your next sewing project.

Can you use a coverstitch as an overlocker?

No, a coverstitch machine cannot be used as an overlocker. While both machines are used for sewing and finishing edges, they have different functions and capabilities.

An overlocker is designed to trim and overcast the edges of fabric in one step, while also creating a seam. On the other hand, knit fabrics can have decorated stitching and professional-looking hems thanks to a coverstitch machine.

Brother Coverstitch Serger, 2340CV
Image Source: Amazon

Attempting to use a coverstitch machine as an overlocker could result in damaged fabric and poor-quality stitch. Using the right machine for the job is important to achieve the best results.

Using a coverstitch machine as an overlocker is not recommended because they are designed for different purposes and have different capabilities.

So, you cannot use a coverstitch machine as an overlocker because they have different stitch capabilities, functions, and features. A coverstitch machine is designed for hemming and topstitching, while an overlocker is designed to create and finish seams, trim fabric edges, and prevent fraying.

Coverstitch vs. Overlock – What is the difference between coverstitch and Overlock?

Coverstitch and overlock machines are used in sewing but have different functions and capabilities. Here are the main differences between the two:

Stitch types

  • Coverstitch: A coverstitch machine produces a polished hem on clothing by stitching two or three parallel rows of straight stitches on the right side and a chain stitch with a looper thread on the back. This type of stitch is typically used for hemming knit fabrics, providing stretch and a clean finish.
  • Overlock: Also known as a serger, an overlock machine creates a seam, trims the edge, and finishes the edge in one step. It uses loopers and one or more needles to create an overlock stitch that encloses the raw edge of the fabric, providing a neat, clean finish. Overlock machines are used to create and finish seams on a variety of fabrics, including woven and knit materials.

Fabric edge finishing

  • Coverstitch: The coverstitch machine does not trim or finish the fabric edge, as it is primarily used for hemming and topstitching.
  • Overlock: The overlock machine trims and finishes the fabric edge, making it ideal for preventing fraying and creating a secure, clean seam.

Number of threads

  • Coverstitch: Coverstitch machines typically use 2 to 4 threads, depending on the specific model and stitch configuration.
  • Overlock: Overlock machines use anywhere from 2 to 8 threads, with 3- or 4-thread overlock stitches being the most common for home sewers.


  • Coverstitch: Coverstitch machines are specialized and mainly used for garment hemming and topstitching. They need more functionality compared to overlock machines.
  • Overlock: Overlock machines are more adaptable since they serve a wider range of functions, such as sewing and completing seams, fastening elastic, and producing decorative edges.

FAQs on Coverstitch vs. Overlocker

To further help, here are some answers to questions you may have about Coverstitch and Overlocker.

Can I use a coverstitch machine to create and finish seams like an overlocker?

No, a coverstitch machine is primarily designed for hemming and topstitching, not for creating and finishing seams. An overlocker is an appropriate machine for creating and finishing seams, trimming fabric edges, and preventing fraying.

Do I need both a coverstitch machine and an overlocker?

It depends on your sewing needs and the projects you work on. If you primarily work with knit fabrics and require a machine for hemming, a coverstitch machine might be enough.

However, an overlocker would be more suitable if you need a versatile machine that can create and finish seams on various fabric types. Having both machines can be beneficial for advanced sewers working on a wide range of projects.

Can I convert my overlocker into a coverstitch machine, or vice versa?

Some machines on the market can perform both overlock and coverstitch functions, but they are usually more expensive and may require extra steps to switch between modes. If you already own a dedicated overlocker or coverstitch machine, it is impossible to convert it into another type.

Which machine is better for sewing with stretchy fabrics?

Both coverstitch and overlock machines can handle stretchy fabrics well. A coverstitch machine is ideal for hemming and topstitching knit fabrics, providing stretch and a clean finish. Conversely, an overlocker can create and finish seams on stretchy fabrics while maintaining the fabric’s elasticity.

Are coverstitch and overlock machines difficult to thread and maintain?

Threading and maintaining these machines can be more challenging than a regular sewing machine, especially for beginners.

However, with practice and proper instruction, you can learn to thread and maintain coverstitch and overlock machines efficiently. Many modern machines also come with features that make threading and maintenance easier.

Can I use a regular sewing machine to achieve similar results to coverstitch and overlock machines?

While a regular sewing machine can perform similar functions, it will not provide the same professional finish and durability as a coverstitch or overlock machine.

You can use a zigzag stitch or stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine for hems and seams, but the results may not be as clean and polished as with dedicated coverstitch or overlock machines.

Video: Overlocker vs coverstitch – what’s the difference

Unlock the secrets of sewing mastery: Discover the key differences between Overlockers and Coverstitch machines with Katelynn Hegedus Sewing! Get ready to enhance your sewing skills and join the discussion in the comments!


So, understanding the differences between coverstitch and overlock machines is essential for any sewing enthusiast looking to expand their skills and create professional-quality garments. While both machines have their unique capabilities, they serve distinct purposes in sewing projects.

Coverstitch machines excel in hemming and topstitching, providing stretch and a clean finish, particularly for knit fabrics. On the other hand, overlock machines offer versatility with their ability to create and finish seams, trim fabric edges, and prevent fraying on various fabric types.

As you consider which machine to invest in, assessing your sewing needs and preferences is crucial. For those who primarily work with knit fabrics and need a machine for hemming, a coverstitch machine might be the best choice.

However, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to create and finish seams on a variety of fabrics, an overlock machine could be the better option. So, having both machines in your sewing arsenal can open up a world of possibilities, allowing you to achieve the professional finish you desire in your sewing projects. Happy sewing!

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