We've been looking at seams and seam finishes in order to get a good-looking result on our seams both inside and out. Today, one of my favorites – the overcasting stitch.
Where to use Overcasting stitches
The overcasting stitch is one of the most versatile on your machine. My machine has 3 options, stitches 6, 7, and 8, for thin to medium weight fabrics, heavy fabrics, and stretch fabrics. That pretty much has everything covered.
The overcasting stitch can be used to finish the edge of your fabric rather like the zig-zag stitch we looked at before, but often gives a much neater finish. My machine came with an overcasting foot as standard and if you don't have one, I highly recommend getting one. You'll find that you will use it a lot.
The overcasting foot has an edge guide, so you run the edge of your fabric along the guide as you sew. It also has a ‘pin' or bar running through the center and this controls the stitch so that it lays nice and flat, overcasting the fabric edge without making it bunch up and pucker.
You can also use it to neaten both seam allowances together at the same time, or even on stretch fabrics – to sew the seam and finish the edge at the same time. If you don't have a serger and just use a regular sewing machine like me, this is one of the best options for sewing knit fabrics and getting a narrow finished seam similar to that you would find on a ready-to-wear garment.
How to sew an overcast seam
For non-stretch. Pick the correct stitch for your fabric. Line up the two raw edges of the fabric against the little guide and sew. It runs through nicely and neatly because of the guide.
I like to overcast the two edges together first, and then I go back and sew my regular seam on the seam allowance line. This gives a really neat finish. Press the overcast edge over to one side.
As an alternative, you could also sew your seam as usual, then use the overcasting foot separately on each of the raw edges and press your seam open if you prefer. It all depends on your fabric and your project.
For stretch fabrics. I use my stretch overcasting stitch and foot to stitch the seam and neaten the raw edges all in one go. It doesn't need me to go back again and sew another line of stitching, the stretch overcasting stitch does it all in one go.
You can then stretch the fabric as much as you like and that seam will stretch right along with it. Because the stitches aren't connected in the same way as a regular running stitch, there's pretty much no chance you'll pop those stitches no matter how much you stretch the fabric.
Do you have mystery stitches on your machine that look like these? Give them a try. Even if you don't have the special presser foot, you might still get a good result with these stitches. Get out some scraps and give it a go.
Previous posts in this series:
Part 1 – the zig-zag seam finish
Part 2 – the flat-felled seam
Part 3 – the French seam
Part 4 – the Turned Under seam finish
Part 6 – coming up next, the perfect narrow hemline